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Unlocking Superior Testing Results: Real Devices Vs Device Clouds

Development teams often have a tall order when testing apps, platforms, and websites on devices. With an unending list of device makes, models, and configurations to consider, device clouds offer quality assurance (QA) teams a simpler and more efficient way to perform tests remotely on multiple real devices hosted on a cloud. 

Although device clouds have several advantages, such as improved time-to-market, reduced costs, and instant access to modern and legacy devices, they cannot entirely replicate the results from testing on real devices with actual users in intended locations.

In this blog, we’ll explore the key reasons device clouds can’t replace real device testing. 

Understanding Real Device Testing

Why Device Clouds Can’t Replace Real Devices 

While there are several areas that device clouds excel at, they have their fair share of drawbacks, too. 

Network Latency

In device clouds, network latency can be a hidden problem that causes significant issues. When you access devices remotely, unexpected outages, slow network speeds, and other connectivity problems can make it seem like your product is slow and unresponsive. 

In addition, network issues can cause your automation scripts to fail, leading to wasted hours of manual testing. Your team may not immediately realize the issue is network latency, not the product itself. This problem can become a bottleneck in the product development process, slowing down your team’s ability to deliver new features and functionality as quickly as possible.

On the other hand, when you use a physical device to test your product, any issue you encounter, including network connectivity problems, is a genuine concern that could potentially harm your user experience. Testing on real devices can help you identify and resolve mission-critical issues before they impact your customers.

Security Testing

Device clouds usually rely on physical devices located in a specific area. However, depending on the device cloud provider, your access to different locations and devices may be limited. This makes it challenging to test security across all regions and geographies.

Although you can use a proxy server to test your application in a different location, there is no guarantee that the results will be accurate. If your industry is subject to stringent security and privacy laws, using a proxy server may not be able to capture the authentic experience of your users in a particular location or region. As a result, companies must invest in real device testing in areas where customers use their products to test security and privacy properly.

Hardware Configuration

Public device clouds operate on a shared device model, where multiple clients often access the same device remotely. Device clouds must ensure that each device is immaculate by wiping the device clean before offering it to the next client. However, this sanitization process makes it challenging for device clouds to replicate real-life hardware configuration issues, such as battery life, RAM performance, processor speed, storage devices, app interactions, and graphics card capabilities. 

This is why comprehensive testing strategies should include real device testing. Real devices allow teams to test hardware-specific problems across different makes and models. This approach provides a more accurate and precise test environment to identify issues and deliver superior-quality products to end-users.

Real-World Testing

Another major drawback of device clouds is their inability to simulate real-world user experiences accurately. Since these devices are remotely accessible, your QA team develops scripts that evaluate the performance and reliability of your app. However, users may interact with your app or platform differently than your team. They may use various devices, have different network speeds, and work on different operating system versions, etc. These differences can significantly impact the user experience and may lead to unexpected issues that are difficult to identify and address through device cloud testing alone.

Therefore, testing your app with real users is crucial to obtain more accurate results. This type of testing allows you to see how users interact with your app in real-world scenarios and helps you collect feedback to make necessary improvements. 

Localization Testing

Using real devices, you can identify potential bugs and optimization opportunities that may have gone unnoticed with device clouds. This can enhance the quality of your products and services and improve your reputation and credibility in the new market.

Payments Testing

Financial institutions may consider using private device clouds when they test their payment systems. Private device clouds are device clouds that offer exclusive access to devices in their cloud. However, private device clouds can be expensive and may not provide a complete picture of how the payment system would behave in the real world.  

Enabling a Cost-Effective Device Testing Strategy

Device testing is critical to the success of any global app or platform today. Although various strategies and best practices are available, finding the right combination of virtual, cloud and real device testing can be challenging. Some companies may buy several devices for their QA teams to test in-house, while others may ship devices to their employees for testing. However, success for both approaches hinges on your ability to target the right users and devices for your testing efforts. Moreover, they are challenging to scale and require considerable cost commitments and tedious management to verify and collect results.

While public cloud devices have some advantages, such as improving test coverage and velocity, they still fall short when testing regional requirements, hardware configuration, and security verification. Therefore, as a best practice, device clouds should be used to perform reusable and repeatable tests with high passing rates. 

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