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A 5-Step Guide to Mobile App Testing Automation

Software developers and testers are always looking for ways to reduce testing time and get more accurate results.  Mobile app testing is the most important component of mobile application development life cycle, but it’s also one of the slowest processes and costliest activities in terms of time and money.

For this reason, many organizations have already embarked on the journey toward automation of manual mobile testing. Whether you’re new to automated testing or an experienced QA professional, this guide will help you get started with your own automated tests quickly. After all, who doesn’t want to accelerate software quality?

Let’s take a look at five aspects to consider when setting up your first test automation project for Android apps:

  • Environment Setup
  • Test Automation Framework Selection
  • Test Cases and Maintenance
  • Performance of Automated Tests vs. Manual Tests
  • Benefits of Mobile App Testing Automation

It is important to note that before you start automating your tests, you should have some idea about the test cases you’ll be running automatically.  This includes both positive and negative cases – this is your app’s “happy path”. Then, you need to consider how these test cases will fail so that they can give the appropriate errors or exceptions whenever something goes wrong.    It may seem like a time-consuming task, but it will save valuable resources later on in the project when debugging issues becomes much easier.

The last thing to keep in mind is that automation testing tools and frameworks need to be compatible with your organization’s technology stack.  Mobile app testing can also leverage performance data collected from manual tests and contribute it back to the overall project.

Let’s take a look at each one of these aspects in more detail:

1) Environment Setup for Mobile App Testing Automation

Even if you choose automated testing tools that run on any operating system, it is best practice to create separate virtual machines (VMs) or physical devices for automation tests and use them only for automated testing purposes. This ensures that they don’t interfere with other apps and functions on the said device and thus provide accurate results.

For iOS automation, Xcode is required; whereas, Android rely on Java SDK, Android Studio, and associated tools.  You can use Eclipse IDE for Android automation, but Java is no longer supported in this environment.

2) Test Automation Framework Selection

There are many open-source test automation frameworks available to help automate tests for your mobile app developer, including Appium, Calabash, Espresso, UI Automator, Robotium, XCUITest – all of which have their own pros and cons. It’s important to keep in mind that not everything can be tested automatically because there are several user interactions with the device that fall outside of the realm of automated testing (e.g., touching or swiping the screen).

3) Test Cases & Maintenance

Writing good test cases will save you time later on in the project. It’s a good idea to start with simple test cases and build on top of them as you go along.  Test automation tools like Calabash, Appium, UIAutomator, Robotium can help you create your app screens dynamically. This saves time by eliminating the need for manual scriptwriting or image captures.

4) Performance of Automated Tests vs. Manual Tests

You may be wondering how much mobile testing automation will cost and whether it will work better than manual testing. Let’s begin with price comparison between automated and manual testing approaches:

  • The total cost for an engineer working 40 hours per week is $40/hour (less than 1 cent per automated test)
  • The total cost for a tester working 40 hours per week is $40/hour (2 cents per manual test)
  • The total cost for an engineer working 20 hours per week is $20/hour (5 cents per automated test)

The answer to the question of how much mobile testing automation will cost obviously depends on your project specifics. It’s also important to keep in mind that automation tests take more time to execute than manual tests, so you’ll need several people – not just one – executing them simultaneously.  Speed matters when it comes to testing mobile apps, so try to optimize the performance of your automation framework based on the latest devices and follow best practices like limiting concurrent executions of automated tests if necessary.

The last aspect of mobile app testing automation you should consider is how performance will affect the results. As mentioned earlier, automated tests take longer to execute than manual tests and thus may not be ideal for time-sensitive test cases like load testing. The good news is that you can always add more test cases (e.g., periodic checks) to your framework and pick the ones which fit your project’s specific requirements and goals – this way you’ll get a broader spectrum of coverage rather than just basic validation.

5) Benefits of Mobile App Testing Automation

Mobile app testing automation is the process of executing tests on mobile devices without manual intervention; this is achieved through setting up a framework that controls the information input, executes tests, and collects data to determine if the application is meeting performance standards. Mobile app testing automation can be performed using various open-source test frameworks like Appium, Calabash, Espresso, UI Automator, Robotium, XCUITest etc. The benefits of mobile app testing automation are reduced cost for organizations with low budget constraints to execute automated tests and an increase in accuracy because no human errors are committed by unstructured testers.

This concludes our list of the most important aspects of mobile app testing automation that all developers and testers should keep in mind when deploying their framework. If you have any questions about mobile app automation or would like to learn more about our platform, feel free to leave a comment below or contact us directly via email.

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