Why Access to Devices is Still a Concern (and What to Do About It)

Android application testing is notoriously challenging. There are at least 24,000 different Android devices in the world made available by over 1,300 brands. Even for developers well-versed in the conundrum of Android fragmentation, those stats are still shocking.

Why Android fragmentation will always exist

Apple does have multiple products, product versions, and OS versions, but the combinations created by iOS are nothing when compared to those created by Android.

There are three main factors involved:

  • OEM custom features
  • Internal hardware
  • Android version being run

Those 1,300 brands all have various products and product versions, not to mention vastly different hardware features, such as screen size, resolution, and shape.

That means there will only be more devices with more particularities.

The failings of device emulators

  • They have increased processing power that does not match mobile processing speeds
  • Screen resolutions and image rendering aren’t guaranteed to be accurate
  • External conditions (like the effect of loud noise on sensors or slow network connections on task completion) can’t be tested
  • Internal hardware differences (like CPUs and GPUs) aren’t tested

The most reliable way to get Android device coverage

Humans! Mobile testing is synonymous with manual testing because of complex nature of mobile apps and how intimately they’re used. Testing on actual devices is a must for deploying for supported devices with absolute confidence.

Every app is different, so the needs of every team are different. Some apps (particularly games) require extensive manual testing to ensure that the product is interfacing with sensors properly and the graphics are on-point.

For most apps, responsiveness can’t be sacrificed, and the multitude of available screen sizes are reason enough to require manual testing.

Why mobile testing should be left to the experts

The temptation to NOT cover all necessary devices means that the user experience goes unsupported. Similarly, the temptation to leave a certain extent of mobile testing to the users equals poor app ratings and low adoption.