Mobile app testing in real-time

Dan Mcfall, CEO, Mobile Labs, discovers how a mobile device cloud makes manual testing happen in real-time

What is the role of manual testing today for mobile app testing? While the testing world pushes for increased automated testing, manual testing still has an important role to play.

While automated testing is often faster, especially for regression testing, manual testing puts human judgement and creativity at the fore – does everything look right? Are there new or non-obvious paths? How might a user misunderstand what’s being presented? Is there something a test script might know to do that some users will not find easy or intuitive? What happens when the user makes a mistake or does the unexpected? The human tester can also make qualitative assessments of the look, feel, and appeal of the app.

Cloud-based testing is especially important to manual testing because a large variety of devices and OS versions can be checked quickly. But, such cloud access can come with internet lags that slow the work down or even cause some events to be missed. With smooth action, however, cloud-based manual testing can equal the speed and accuracy of having dozens of devices in-hand, something almost no one has. The answer lies in implementing real-time manual testing leveraging a high-performance mobile device cloud that excels in three distinct areas – device access, interactivity and productivity.

Improved device access

Without an organised and instantaneous means to share devices, managing mobile devices is a time-consuming process, and due to the ever-increasing number of smartphones and tablets, purchasing multiple devices for testing is expensive. For mobile developers and testers that are located in different offices worldwide, or even on different floors of the same building, sharing devices in real time is virtually impossible. Sure, devices can be shipped, but waiting to receive devices in transit is a huge time constraint and can lead to major delays. But it is not much better if the device you need is down the hall in the locked office of a colleague. The goal for modern mobile testing is to be faster and attempting physical device sharing leads to a huge strain on time, cost and productivity.

While many testing teams have attempted solutions like using personal devices, the only reasonable way to have sufficient coverage of form factors, models, and OS versions is to have a large pool of devices that everyone can use. A mobile device cloud stores such a pool in one central location where the devices are always charged, accounted for, can be reserved and scheduled, and are ready for instant access anywhere in the enterprise.

In-hand vs. interactivity

What does manual testing look like if testers do not have a device in hand? Manual testing with a mobile device cloud enables testers to login to a portal from a computer. Upon login, manual testers can see available devices and choose the needed one. The device’s display contents are shown in real time on the engineer’s monitor and it appears to the tester as if the physical device is in his or her hands. All user interactions with the device are initiated with the workstation’s keyboard and mouse.

Whether the team decides to implement a mobile device cloud on-premises o keep secure dedicated devices in a data entre, the devices are available 24/7 and easy to find in real time. A mobile device cloud offers the added benefits of allowing testers to reserve devices ahead of time, allowing devices to be used more efficiently.

Productivity gains

The world moves fast and so does mobile app testing. By taking devices out of testers’ hands, manual testers can test in real-time thanks to not having to wait for physical devices to become available. A smooth, high-performing device cloud can replicate the results achievable on an in-hand device and improve productivity in other key areas.

Manual testers can use the mobile device cloud to view multiple devices side-by-side for comparison and can save multi-touch gestures. Reporting bugs are faster because a mobile device cloud allows manual testers to copy and paste text and add screenshots to a defect report.

For apps that rely on geographical location to function properly, such as navigation, restaurant, or retail apps, a mobile device cloud helps manual testers rapidly test through location simulation by changing the GPS location of a device.

Furthermore, when new apps are developed or when an updated app release is ready for testing, a mobile device cloud makes installing apps across devices fast. Apps can be installed in real time if the cloud is integrated with the build system so that new builds are installed automatically.

With all the buzz around mobile automated testing, the role for manual testing might seem diminished. But, in order to release top-quality apps quickly, manual testing must be part of the mix. The most effective enterprise mobility teams embrace strategies that erase the challenges of manual testing and transform it into real-time testing that improves speed, quality and agility.