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Know When Your Mobile Application Needs Test Automation

Almost 4 billion people spend the greater part of their smartphone use time interacting with apps. The number is already huge, but it keeps growing, which both excites and intimidates mobile app development companies. Add the user's insanely high demands and you'll get a very competitive market. To be successful on it, developers must make sure their apps are perfect by thoroughly testing them. To start with companies opt for manual testing, which provides more flexibility scaling back on costs. However, as the app grows and updates releases become more frequent, manually performed testing usually gets slower and less effective in particular aspects. To keep the pace of intense development and expanding requirements, developers should consider resorting to automated testing.
March 22, 2021
Before we jump into the "when" part, let's learn more about the manual and automated mobile testing approaches, define their strengths and weaknesses, and find out what are the most profitable scenarios of using them.
Manual Mobile App Testing
Manual Testing is a type of software testing that implies that test cases are executed by an engineer manually without using any automated tools. A manual engineer simulates the real user's flow trying to identify bugs, issues, and defects in the application. Despite manual type is the most primitive approach of all testing types, it still helps to find critical bugs providing many crucial benefits.

Advantages of mobile app manual testing:

  • Easier to identify and handle app crashes
  • Replicates the real user experience
  • More accuracy in user interface testing
  • Cheaper and faster for small projects and MVPs
  • Enables testing complicated and sophisticated use-case scenario

Disadvantages of mobile app manual testing:

  • Overwhelming similar routine test cases
  • The possibility of human error makes it less accurate
  • Requires dedicated human resources to perform on a regular basis
  • Some scenarios are impossible to test manually (this works both ways)

There are a lot of reasons why manual mobile app testing remains relevant throughout the development lifecycle. Imagine the situation where a user bumps into a bug in your mobile app. In this case, only a manual testing engineer can replicate this issue and delegate it to the development team. The time spent between user-reported issues and fixing it vital for the business you run, and manual testing will cope with this task much faster.

Another significant advantage of manual testing is connected with covering the most complicated use cases. There are many factors, such as device compatibility and UI interactions, which simply cannot be tested using the test automation approach. What is going to happen if the user of your mobile app is running multiple apps at the same time? How will your app perform if the user receives a phone call, or сollapsed the app to send a text message? Such things as navigation gestures, device permissions, and connectivity, need human vision and manual testing to offer a high-quality and error-free user experience.

Manual testing fits best when it comes to:

  • Usability testing. Human observation makes it possible to determine how user-friendly a mobile app is. Also, it can help to figure out the efficiency and convenience of the product under the test.
  • Exploratory testing. Testing mobile apps on the fly requires knowledge, analysis, experience, intuition, and creativity.
  • Ad-hoc testing. Like the previous one, this type is about keeping the testing process informal and unstructured, aiming to break the testing process in order to find possible defects or errors at an early possible stage.
Automated Mobile App Testing
Test automation (also automated testing) is a software testing technique that, in contrast to manual testing, requires special software tools to execute test scripts. While scripts are basically written by automation engineers, test suites (consisting of scripts) are performed by computers. That's why it is called "automated".

Advantages of mobile app test automation:

Disadvantages of mobile app test automation:

  • Slow and wasteful for a simple feature, small mobile app or an MVP
  • Code and configurations are typically specific to different mobile apps
  • Cannot find errors it wasn't programmed to find.
  • Some scenarios are impossible to test manually (this works both ways)

Simply put, automated tests have every advantage a computer does over a human. They are way faster at test execution and can run test suits 24/7, even when there is no one at the office.

But keep in mind that creating automated test scripts is a time-consuming and costly venture. It doesn't completely replace manual testing, just undertakes the most tedious tasks. That's why it's important to carefully select what test cases you automate. If you decide to opt for the automated approach, prioritize testing the core functionality of your mobile app. That will provide more space for the manual exploration of user experience and key features.

Automated testing fits best when it comes to:

  • Regression testing. Frequent code changes bind a developer to test his app for regression with each new release. And automated testing is the best choice for it. It will allow you to run regression tests quickly.
  • Performance testing. When testing the speed and performance of a mobile app against thousands of concurrent users, automation is obviously helpful. Or even essential.
  • Cross-platform testing. The ability of the app to carry out its function on a variety of platforms and constantly changing platforms raises the typical case for automation.
  • Repeated execution. Repetitive and long-running tasks are destined for automated testing.