Pro and cons of mobile app testing methods

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Computers and laptops, which were the preferred equipment for personal and professional computing alike, have since given way to mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and other smart hardware. The mobile revolution is well underway and has changed how businesses operate forever. Now development teams must create agile development processes that meet user standards and hardware requirements, but this is easier said than done.

Mobile devices pose an issue unlike any hardware that came before them. There are a number of makes and models from manufacturers, each with different features, capabilities and operating systems. While the art of developing for these devices is certainly a challenge, mobile software testing is also a feat in and of itself. There are a number of mobile application testing types that teams can leverage, and each comes with its own pros and cons.

1. Performance testing

Application performance testing gauges an app's ability to withstand the pressure and traffic that users exert on a regular basis. For example, if too many users are on at once, it could slow down an app's response time and negatively impact its performance. The strength of this testing type is that it involves a number of evaluations to ensure that the system has optimal behavior under heavy workloads and that the app can respond quickly to any sudden traffic spikes. These aspects will be essential to verify as it could mean the difference between keeping and losing users.

However, there are also some weaknesses to this testing approach, namely that it requires tools and constant efforts for support. In a piece for IBM's The Mobile Enterprise blog, contributor Patrick Fan noted that performance testing tools can easily identify hardware bottlenecks, but some organizations may need multiple solutions to cover the front-end and back-end of performance. Organizations also can't rely on one test to gauge app performance; they must execute multiple tests and take the average to get the full picture of how the software is performing. This takes a lot of time and effort, but it's worth it to ensure that the program performs well across mobile platforms.

2. Functional testing

With this testing type, quality assurance teams evaluate how well the system is delivering functional requirements. QA runs these tests by feeding input and comparing actual versus expected outputs. This approach is a significant factor in helping teams determine if they are measuring up to user demands and how to improve their features. Software Testing Fundamentals noted that there are some great benefits to functional testing like simulating system usage and eliminating system structure assumptions. This will be important to reaching a range of devices and providing a consistent experience across platforms.

There are a few downsides to functional testing that teams should know about. The first is that functional testing is time-consuming and intensive when done manually, as there's a high likelihood for redundant testing activities. Organizations would likely look to test automation integration to take care of these issues, but this effort can introduce additional challenges. Functional testing can also miss a lot of logical errors, which requires extra time and effort to evaluate thoroughly or go back and change issues after release. By involving testers from the very beginning, they will be able to create better functional test cases that adhere to user requirements.

3. Security testing

Mobile devices are increasingly being targeted by cyberthreats like malware, and this can lead to major breaches of sensitive data. For this reason, security testing is absolutely essential to ensure that an app's data and network security acts according to defined guidelines. The good thing is that this method will help keep information and users safer, and can mitigate defects early on.

The bad thing about security testing is that it's not a perfect science. As soon as protection solutions are introduced, cyberattackers are making better threats to breach the system. There are simply a lot of areas to cover, especially when mobile devices have so many different variables. TechTarget contributor Greg Reber suggested using security assessment methodologies, but noted that these tools may only identify a limited range of issues. Organizations would still essentially be blind to some problems until they are fully manifested. Teams must look into new testing tools and gauge the best ways to pump up security to deter threats.

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