Within the past decade, the number of hardware options at our disposal has increased dramatically. Not only do we have desktops, which have been a staple for over 30 years, but we also have mobile options in the form of laptops, tablets, smartphones and other emerging smart devices. For the past decade, mobile devices have become just as critical if not more so to our daily functions as desktops. Organizations are increasingly developing applications for both mediums, but the question here is which should be tested first?
The testing differences
Desktops and mobile devices are two completely different animals, which means that you likely won't use the exact same agile testing methodologies for both options. The big differentiator here is just the fact that there is a lot more variety across mobile hardware, creating significant complications for testing efforts. As Segue Technologies noted, desktop applications can be tested across a number of hardware types because the operating systems and requirements are more likely to match software capabilities. In fact, Unix-based OSes (e.g. Linux, OS X created by Apple) and Microsoft Windows are virtually the only systems that developers have to worry about when testing for desktop applications.
Mobile testing, on the other hand, has a complex ecosystem that challenges all testers. First, there's the fact that new mobile hardware is produced nearly every year. Think about how many different kinds of iPhones are operational and being serviced right now. While the iPhone 4 is slowly fading into obsolescence, there are many people that still use these devices, even though the iPhone 7 is expected to debut this year. Not only are there numerous devices versions being manufactured by a provider, but each new phone and tablet gets upgraded features and capabilities. The iPhone 7 will likely have a much better camera and bigger screen size than the iPhone 4, for example. These vastly different requirements make it especially difficult for testers to create reusable scripts and evaluate everything in a timely manner.
Which should come first?
If your organization is focusing on maintaining and supporting both hardware types, your best bet is to test for desktops first, as it's considerably less complicated than mobile. ConversionXL noted that aiming for a single device category will help establish and execute tests faster. Teams will be able to test desktop applications more quickly than they could for mobile, making desktop the logical choice to start with for any team.
"The more tests you run, the more money you (can potentially) make. If you set up tests targeting only a single device category, it will take less development and QA time per test, hence you're able to launch tests faster," ConversionXL stated. "Every day has value – and every day without a test regret by default."
For businesses developing for multiple types of equipment, test management solutions will be essential. These solutions will help keep track of test cases even in the most complex of testing environments. As organizations aim to make use of different hardware options, testing desktop applications first could help deliver timely updates and provide more time for mobile efforts.