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Mobile Testing Lessons Learned from Other Applications

By Product Management | May 22, 2015

CATEGORIES: Mobile Quality

You’ve likely heard the phrases “imitation is the best flattery” and “learn from your mistakes”—and certainly both of these are true when it comes to mobile technology. However, something rings even truer than these tried and somewhat cliché sayings, and that is, “learn from the mistakes mobile testers have made before you.” The standard way to do that is connecting to other experts online and educating oneself by:

  • Reading the best online QA-related blogs and forums
  • Following QA experts on Twitter and Facebook
  • Trying every single mobile testing tool everyone else is using
  • Learning new techniques that encompass creative approaches to mobile testing
  • Trying to break an app by using it in ways it is not meant to be used

Checking App Updates

The above things can be helpful, but there is a simple activity that will provide even more insight. The way to glean invaluable information is to compare updated releases of apps with prior versions and see what changes were made by the developers. You will quickly see that many changes are mandated by navigation mistakes and bugs that were missed by QA testers in prior versions. Looking at the apps’ update texts will yield free and helpful insights on the app’s intended versus actual behavior.

It is not necessary to look for apps to analyze. It is as simple as reading all the updates of the app every time you are going to install a new version of one you currently use. In doing so, you will learn about bugs in the previous version which have been fixed, as well as cool new features that have been added. Here are some of the important mobile testing insights that can be gleaned from reading update texts.

  • With tens of thousands of different devices out there, it is impossible to test an app on every one, but you need to pick and choose a representative selection and perform thorough testing on each. Update texts often show the action that caused an app to perform a force close on the device.
  • Speed and reliability should be the priorities, so take a look at the “improved loading process” update on the list, which indicates details about the app’s performance, in particular for users who are impatient.
  • Mobile app widgets can freeze a device or consume too much battery power, both of which will be included in the update text. The number of fixes clearly reveals that more rigorous testing of widgets is required.
  • Too many features will bring an app to its knees and users will abandon it. At the same time, users expect a steady stream of feature updates, and each new release of OSs will demand updates even if users do not. Adopting a minimum viable product strategy allows adequate testing and getting the necessary functionality in front of users as quickly as possible.
  • Too often, there are bugs in features that are critical to the bottom line of a business, such as sign-in or payments. Users who encounter these bugs will simply abandon the app and shop elsewhere. Sign-in and payment features must be tested rigorously for exceptions.
  • Requiring too many permissions will reduce the possibility of users installing the app. These fixes are often seen when the app gets updated and the developer has streamlined this process to a minimum number of required permissions.

With 1.6 million Android apps available today, those with poor functionality, bad user experience, or a lack of interesting interactions will be ignored and fall into the bottomless pit of discarded apps. Creative, insightful mobile testing is an essential component of development and it truly pays to learn from others’ mistakes. Once the app has launched, it is critical to perform ongoing analytics, which will reveal insightful data for your next release in much the same way as others’ update texts helped you create your app.

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