Mobile phones have evolved well beyond their once solely utilitarian value thanks to the plethora of applications available on the market. With almost 4 million mobile apps available for download so customers have a bevvy of options to choose from. This highly-competitive supply and demand means you must ensure that the quality, usability, and security of your mobile app not only meets expectations but exceeds them. 

This is the power of mobile app testing. 

But it takes organization and planning to ensure you can iterate through the software development life cycle quicker and – ultimately – out to market sooner. Knowing the types of mobile app testing and their functions can help. 

10 Mobile App Testing Types and Approaches

1. Functional Testing

Functional software testing ensures that the application is, well, functioning, correctly. This type of testing focuses on the main purpose and flow of the app, ensuring that all its features are responsive and meet specifications.

It pays to keep in mind that: “only 4 out of 100 unhappy customers will complain directly to a company — the other 96 will churn without providing feedback. Since it’s 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one, unlocking that silence is key.” – thinkJar

In addition to the mobile app’s specific functionality, there are other scenarios one should test for to limit errors, including but not limited to checking if:

  • The application installs and launches correctly
  • The users can sign-up and login
  • Text boxes and buttons function properly
  • Push notifications render correctly

Related: What’s the Difference Between Functional and Nonfunctional Testing?

2. Usability Testing

Known as user experience testing, usability testing checks how user-friendly the app is in terms of ease of use and intuitiveness. Ideally, usability testing revolves around the entire app-driven customer experience with insights that include the identification of bugs and recommendations for ways to improve the customer experience, both in and out of the app. 

Engineers, marketers and product people all want to test whether or not the end-to-end “app-driven” experience is world-class. To that end, it’s important for app usability testing to be done with real people, on real devices to quickly identify and fix usability issues prior to app release.

This type of testing is more art than science and requires skilled usability QA testers to facilitate tests and capture insights that mirror actual users or customers of the app.

Keep in mind the following: 

  • Good layout and design
  • Intuitive
  • Response time

Did you know most users prefer applications that launch within two to three seconds after they’ve opened the app? Because usability testing is subjective, you should understand your target end-users and their preferences. Consider asking them to test the product themselves. 

Other best practices for usability testing include: 

  • Thoughtful setup of usability test scripts and feedback questionnaires.
  • Integration of usability questionnaires within test cycles so testers understand the usability testing instructions, can access the online questionnaires and provide feedback as part of their testing tasks.
  • Results analysis and feedback summary with actionable insights and recommendations for improving the overall customer experience.

3. Compatibility Testing

Compatibility testing is a type of non-functional testing that is critical to ensure your mobile app works on various operating systems, devices and applications, network environments, and with particular internal hardware specifications. 

Specifically, you should know if: 

  • The app is compatible with different operating systems and their various versions (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.)
  • The app performs well with varying networks and their parameters (bandwidth, operating speed, etc.)
  • The app is compatible with different browsers (Google, Firefox, Safari, etc.)
  • The app is compatible with different devices (screen size, data storage, etc.)

There are also two types of compatibility testing to consider: 

  • Backwards: testing the mobile app behavior with older software versions
  • Forwards: testing the mobile app behavior with new — including beta — software versions

Related: Step-by-step Mobile Application Testing Process

4. Performance and load testing

Performance testing checks how well the mobile application performs under a particular workload. These tests are important to ensure your app isn’t malfunctioning. 

Performance and load tests check for the following: 

  • Device performance: Start-up time, battery consumption, memory consumption
  • Network performance: Delays or errors in receiving information
  • API / Server performance: How quickly and in what format data is transferred

Additionally, your app should have built-in back-up and recovery functions that save or recover user data that could be lost for any reason. This is where you would test that capability.

5. Security Testing

80 percent of users would “uninstall an app due to security”. As such, it’s imperative you understand and respect security testing. 

From Tinder to travel apps, some applications ask for user’s personal information. If yours does, too, you absolutely must guarantee confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity of the app. That’s why your QA testing must prioritize data security and test app behavior under various device permission schemes.

Related: 8 mobile app security threats

6. Installation Testing

Also known as implementation testing, installation testing is performed to check if the software is installing and uninstalling properly. 

Additionally, installation testing ensures updates are also uninterrupted and error-free. This includes understanding what happens if a user doesn’t update an app.

7. Localization Testing

From translating in multiple languages to converting to local currencies and adhering to local regulations and legal requirements, it’s important to ensure the app is accessible and usable in a wide variety of markets. That’s where localization testing comes in. 

Consumers routinely skip past apps whose graphical or UI elements are misaligned with their culture, language, or device accessibility – they expect flawless experiences that are localized for their needs and preferences. Want to beat your competitors on the global market? According to research conducted by AppAnnie, fully localizing apps is how you do that. 

At the same time, localization testing continues to be a challenge as half of all QA teams lack the necessary test coverage and access to the resources needed to test localization.

8. Manual Testing

Mobile app testing is a complex process involving various mechanisms and different skill sets.  
QA teams use manual testing to ensure that the final product really works as intended. With a specific role to play, manual testing is used to explore use-cases that may not be all that obvious – expert human testers working in short intervals to swarm the application can deliver exceptional results.

Additionally, we simply can’t automate some types of tests… and shouldn’t. These include: 

  • Physical interface tests
  • Complex tests
  • Exploratory testing

Related: 13 Reasons Why Manual Testing Can Never Be Replaced

9. Automated Testing

As we’ve pointed out before, there are some cases where manual testing is the better option. However, some QA tests are either too tedious or too complex for human testers. That’s why smartly executed automated testing, alongside manual tests, can help assure quality and release better products, faster. 

A few automated testing best practices and challenges include: 

  • The thoughtful design, build, and maintenance of accurate test scripts
  • The alignment and integration of existing engineering workflows with your automated testing process
  • The creation and maintenance of your test automation framework, including infrastructure
  • The management of test runs and setups
  • Rigorous reviews to validate test results and defects
  • Careful monitoring and rapid response to noise and flakey tests

10. Mobile Device Testing

Mobile apps would not exist without hardware and operating systems. So, we also need to think about mobile device testing to ensure software and hardware quality. There are several testing types specific to mobile including: 

  • Interruptions – Interrupt testing evaluates how an app reacts to interruptions and if it resumes to its prior state. Common mobile app interruptions include loss of battery power, in incoming phone call or text, notifications, and app updates. 
  • Location-based Services (LBS) – Using geo-data from a mobile device, location-based services provide real-time information, entertainment or security. They are also used by consumers to “check in” while experiencing life on the go, like a visit to the local Starbucks or while attending a concert.
  • Biometric – Mobile devices often include biometric sensors that include face recognition, fingerprint and hand geometry, iris recognition, and even DNA or insulin levels. 
  • NFC payments – Near Field Communications (NFC) allows mobile devices to communicate with a payment terminal enabling contactless payments.  

Related: Top Mobile App Testing Devices and Operating Systems

The result of intelligent effort

As author John Ruskin exclaimed, “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.”

Now that you have a better understanding of different mobile application testing types, it’s important to create a plan of action. If you’re ready to put in the effort and take your testing to a whole new level, schedule a quick demo today.

Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of digital marketing, PR, and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in communication and storytelling.