Bugging off the bugs! – Mobile Testing vs Web Testing

It has been way over 3 decades since the first mobile phone was launched. Like us, the phone evolved through phases and traveled a long way from stone age to the mobile and smart age. Today, we have one of the most precious technological advancements with us in the form of smartphones. With the advent of time, these phones evolved with ridiculously smart features. Today, we practically run our daily lives with them. But, with great power comes great responsibility. And with great apps being developed, comes a greater responsibility of testing them efficiently. Special complexities and nuances make the mobile app testing a unique skill for testers.
Mobile app testing and web testing are not the same and here’s how.
Complexity of supported platforms:
Gone are the days when there was one phone, one operating system, and the same apps. Testing the web applications for different browsers might be a bit of a pain. But wait there, my good old friend. With multiple devices (phones,tablets, phablets,smart devices etc.) and a hoard of mobile phone producing companies across different platforms ( iOS, Windows, Android, Blackberry and others) it all reaches a whole new level. The icing on the cake is the revolutionary new devices launching every year. Pretty challenging, don’t you think?
It’s not that you have to keep pace with the technology but you actually need to run to catch up with it!
User Interaction
The Computer Science of the fourth grade taught me that keyboard, mouse, and joysticks were the only input devices. Going forward with this knowledge the web apps have to worry only about these as an input source. The real challenge is with the mobile apps. The man-machine interaction has reached unbelievable levels of perfection. Your smile triggers a camera click, so does your wink. The wave of your hand, movements in the phone’s direction and much more. The apps are practically taking inputs from every possible contact point available. This makes the testing job a hardcore one. With features like speech recognition and text to speech and vice versa with Google Apps, Siri and Cortana we are bound to wonder what’s next!
In desktop and browser universe, the apps were to the point. They were either desktop or web based. But with the hybridization of apps in the mobile world, it is very important to understand the difference between the native apps, HTML5 applications, and hybrid apps. It’s not just their names but their behaviors and features which are also different.
Hookups and breakups
It’s true. As fast a user gets hooked to an app, he breaks up fast with it too. Frequent installations, uninstallations, updates of the app and the OS. There are a ton of changes that an app or an OS undergoes within a matter of few days. A tester needs to be on top of these and keep a hawk eye view on all of them.
Emulators and simulators
The developers always have access to the platform or the browsers they were building stuff for. The virtualization was always trustworthy in a Desktop Computer. However, the mobile devices rely on the emulators and simulators which are not completely the true representation of the devices. A tester needs to be aware of their capabilities and limitations.  Only then he can decide what can be tested and what cannot.
Push Notifications and interruptions
Interruptions and mobile devices are like the Siamese twins. They always exist in a conjoint state. SMS, push notifications, calls and all other sorts of interruptions is what I am talking here. As a tester, it is very important to ensure that the applications have the minimal effect due to these interruptions. It is also important to ensure that the app doesn’t cause any interruptions to the phone functioning and works within the boundary defined. Remember the pain of your phone heating up due to certain apps or that frequent annoying restart and blank screens? Well, there is more to this aspect of interruption testing which we will deal with in the last segment.
Mobile specific non-functional testing
The apps add more branches to the testing tree. Nonfunctional testing has many aspects, the performance of an app being the obvious one. But the other areas of data consumption, storage consumption, performance in various battery conditions, trails, logs etc. are very important checkpoints for an app tester.
The advancement of technology is at such a pace that there are limitless possibilities in the realm of mobile app testing. The present and future is bright for aspirants willing to pursue a career in testing.
Do you fancy yourself as an enthusiastic mobile app tester? Well here’s your first checkpoint, Bug-a-Sur Hackathon. Test out 3 to 5 apps and report any and all bugs. In return, the biggest bug found will win you attractive prizes and major street cred!
Ready? Get-set-hack!

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