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Manual vs Automated Testing for Mobile App – Which One Do You Need?

Manual vs Automated Testing for Mobile App

Developing a mobile app for business is quite accessible for developers today. 

With access to various toolkits and new programming languages, mobile app testing has become common. Every mobile app developer is leveraging this task these days.

However, as mobile app designs become more complex, their usage across different browsers, operating systems, and network bandwidths also becomes intricate. 

To ensure a mobile app functions correctly, it is important to test the app and confirm it works optimally.

An app designed to perform effectively on an iPhone doesn’t guarantee it will work well on Android tablets or similar phones. Test automation is a method where a developer repeatedly tests different releases. The following approach allows for more frequent testing and covers more in-depth scenarios. It ensures the mobile app becomes seamless and delivers the best user experience to customers. 

The Mobile App Testing Basics 

mobile app testing

In the easiest terms, mobile app testing has two approaches. 

You can either opt-in for mobile app manual testing where you utilize humans to test the applications across a range of devices. The other one is mobile app automated testing, where you create coded instructions that test the application in different scenarios. 

Both of these testing methods have their own pros and cons; their validity can eventually change over time based on the application’s lifecycle. 

In practice, almost every custom mobile app development company in the USA combines both. 

What is Manual Testing for Mobile Apps? 

manual testing for mobile app

Manual testing requires human testers who interact with a mobile application directly. A task force of humans is set aside to check the app’s functionality and usability across a range of devices. In this method, the tester performs a series of actions such as entering data in forms and fields, checking for error handling, validating all primary functions, and checking the layout alignment and the app’s overall design.

Manual testing of a mobile app simulates real user interaction. The team uses the app under different conditions. Here are the different types of actions performed during manual testing:

Functional Testing 

There are five steps to perform functional testing for a mobile app.

The first step is validating the app’s installation and launch. The task force verifies the app is installed correctly from the app store. They also ensure the app launches without experiencing any errors.

The second step involves running tests to check the navigation. This includes testing the app’s screens and going through its menus.

The third step is to test the mobile app for different input types. The task force enters data in forms and fields to check its validation and error messages. During this phase, they also validate that all primary functions of the app are working, such as login, registration, and transaction features. If the app has other specific features such as camera integration or GPS, the task force also validates those.

Last but not least, the task force uses manual testing tools to test how the app handles invalid input, network failures, and other error conditions.

Some mobile app testers intentionally perform incorrect actions. This ensures proper error messages are displayed on the mobile app screen during the functionality testing phase.

Usability Testing 

The first aspect of usability testing is examining the User Interface (UI). The task force checks the layout, alignment, and overall design of the app. This ensures it is visually appealing and consistent. They also test the app in different orientations, such as portrait and landscape. This verifies that the interface adapts smoothly and remains functional.

The second aspect focuses on User Experience (UX). During this phase, the task force assesses the intuitiveness of the app’s workflow. They verify that navigation and controls are user-friendly. They ensure users can easily perform tasks without confusion. This includes ensuring that buttons, icons, and menus are logically placed and easy to use.

The third aspect is accessibility. The task force tests the app with various accessibility features. This ensures it is usable by people with disabilities. It includes using screen readers, enabling high contrast mode, and checking the app with larger text settings. They ensure that the app is accessible to all users, regardless of their physical abilities or impairments.

Through these comprehensive usability tests performed using manual mobile app testing tools, the task force ensures that the app not only functions well but also provides a pleasant and accessible user experience for all potential users.

Performance Testing

The first step of performance testing is Load Testing. The task force measures the app’s performance under normal and peak load conditions. They check how the app behaves when multiple users are accessing it simultaneously or when it is handling heavy data processing tasks, ensuring that it maintains performance standards under varying loads.

The second step is Stress Testing. During this phase, the task force evaluates the app’s stability under extreme conditions, such as low memory availability or limited battery power. They push the app to its limits to identify any potential weaknesses or points of failure that could impact user experience under stress.

The third step focuses on Response Time. The task force tests how quickly the app responds to user actions, measuring the loading times of various screens and functions. They ensure that the app provides a smooth and efficient experience, with minimal delays between user input and app response.

Compatibility Testing

The first step of compatibility testing is Device Compatibility. The task force tests the app on various devices. This includes different models, screen sizes, and hardware configurations. They ensure that the app functions correctly across a range of devices. This provides a consistent user experience regardless of the hardware used.

The second step is Operating System Compatibility. During this phase, the task force ensures that the app works seamlessly on different versions of the operating system. They verify that the app maintains its functionality and performance across updates and variations in the OS.

The third step in compatibility testing is Network Compatibility. The task force tests the app’s performance under different network conditions. This includes Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, and 5G. They also verify the app’s offline functionality and how it handles network interruptions. This ensures that users can rely on the app in various connectivity scenarios.

Security Testing 

Moving on to security testing, the task force delves into Authentication and Authorization. They verify the integrity of the login and logout processes. This ensures that users can securely access and exit the app. Moreover, they scrutinize user permissions and access controls. It further confirms that the app maintains strict security measures to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access.

In the realm of Data Security, the task force leaves no stone unturned. They ensure that sensitive data, such as user credentials and personal information, is encrypted and stored securely. It eventually safeguards the app from potential breaches. Furthermore, the task force conducts thorough tests to identify and address vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection and XSS attacks

All these practices fortify the app’s defenses against malicious exploitation.

Localization Testing

Turning attention to localization testing, the task force begins with Language Support. They carefully verify the app’s functionality and display in various languages, ensuring seamless usability for users worldwide. 

From Mandarin to Spanish, they scrutinize every aspect to guarantee linguistic accuracy and user satisfaction. 

Cultural Appropriateness is the next focal point. The task force ensures that the content resonates appropriately with different locales, respecting diverse cultural sensitivities and norms. 

From imagery to text, they review each element to ensure cultural relevance and acceptance across various regions.

Exploratory Testing

Now, onto exploratory testing, where the task force employs Ad-Hoc Testing. 

They perform random testing, exploring the app’s functionalities without predefined plans to uncover unexpected issues. With a keen eye for anomalies, they go through the app’s features to identify drawbacks and also check different areas of the app that require improvement. 

Session-based testing is the next strategy employed. The task force conducts time-boxed sessions, focusing on specific areas of the app to delve deeper into its functionalities. 

With structured testing sessions, they aim to uncover nuanced issues and assess the app’s performance against predetermined criteria.

Regression Testing

Lastly, regression testing takes center stage, starting with re-testing. 

The task force revisits previously fixed issues, rigorously testing them to ensure they do not resurface. With a vigilant approach, they validate the effectiveness of past resolutions, maintaining the app’s integrity and stability over time.

Continuous Testing concludes the regression testing phase. The task force diligently conducts regular tests after updates to catch any new bugs or issues that may arise. 

Through continuous vigilance, they strive to uphold the app’s quality standards and deliver a seamless user experience with each iteration.

The Importance of Manual Testing

Manual Testing for Mobile App

Manual testing is an indispensable aspect of the software development process as it provides a human perspective on the application’s functionality and overall user experience. By assuming the role of end-users, manual testers can uncover potential issues and provide valuable feedback. 

They go through the application, perform typical user actions, and assess the application’s behavior, ensuring it functions as intended and meets user expectations.

Moreover, the manual testers can identify problems related to performance, battery consumption, and overheating, allowing for timely resolution before the final release. 

The insights from the task force performing manual tests on applications will enhance the application’s quality and usability, making the app’s user experience more enjoyable. 

Finding Out the Number of Devices for Manual Mobile App Testing

The scope of mobile testing can be extensive due to the diverse range of devices and operating system versions available in the market. 

While it may be ideal to test on every possible combination, it is often impractical due to time and resource constraints. 

The key factors to consider when determining the number of devices for testing include the complexity of the application, the target audience, and the desired level of test coverage. 

A practical approach is to focus on the most recent and widely used versions of the operating system and target devices with varying hardware configurations. 

Based on these considerations, organizations typically maintain a test lab with a manageable range of 10 to 20 devices, taking into account the geographical distribution of their user base.

The strategy ensures you get an app tested without experiencing any overwhelming resources. 

Pros and Cons of Manual Mobile App Testing 

Pros of Manual Testing: 

  • Increased accuracy and precision: One of the biggest advantages of manual testing is the human element. Real people can provide valuable insights and feedback on the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). They can identify issues that automated tests might miss, such as aesthetic inconsistencies or confusing navigation. This leads to more accurate testing and a product that better meets user expectations.
  • Better for complex, dynamic scenarios: Manual testing shines when it comes to handling intricate and multifaceted situations. Mobile apps often involve diverse user interactions and use cases that are challenging to replicate with automated scripts. Manual testers can thoroughly explore these scenarios, ensuring the app functions flawlessly in various real-world contexts.
  • Detects bottlenecks early: Human testers can quickly identify potential roadblocks and bottlenecks in the app’s development process. They can provide immediate feedback, allowing developers to address issues promptly and optimize the app’s performance before release. This saves time, effort, and resources in the long run.
  • Faster bug identification and resolution: Manual testers can swiftly replicate and identify the problem when a user encounters a bug or issue. This expedites the bug-fixing process, as developers can pinpoint and resolve the issue without spending excessive time on detection.
  • Comprehensive coverage of use cases: Mobile devices present a unique set of complexities, including varied screen sizes, input methods, and hardware capabilities. Manual testing can effectively address these challenges by testing the app across different device configurations, ensuring compatibility and a seamless user experience.
  • Utilizes existing team strengths: Unlike automated testing, manual testing does not require hiring specialized automation engineers. The existing team of testers can conduct these tests, leveraging their expertise and familiarity with the product to identify issues and suggest improvements.

Cons of Manual Testing:

  • Time-intensive: While manual testing offers benefits that automated testing may not, it is undeniably more time-consuming. Creating automated test scripts can be faster, especially for repetitive and frequent tests, allowing testers to focus on more complex tasks.
  • Impact on team productivity: Manual testing can be a drain on team productivity, as it requires a dedicated team of testers to execute the tests. This means fewer resources available for other critical tasks, potentially slowing down the overall development process.
  • Challenges with high-traffic apps: Scaling manual testing for high-traffic mobile apps can be difficult. Most companies may not have the bandwidth or personnel to effectively test the load and performance of an app with a large user base.
  • Financial constraints for startups: The costs associated with manual testing, including tools and maintenance, can be a burden, especially for small startups. With limited resources and a tight budget, the return on investment in manual testing may not be as high, making it challenging to justify the expense.
  • Prone to human errors: Despite the advantages of the human element, manual testing is still susceptible to human errors and biases. Testers might overlook issues or introduce inconsistencies, affecting the test’s reliability. Manual testing may not provide the same level of consistency and repeatability as automated tests.

What is Automated Testing?

Automated Testing for Mobile App

When we talk about automated testing, the first thing that comes to our mind is the use of tools such as Selenium or Appium. Both of these automated testing tools are good for driving the application’s user interface and checking the expected results. However, this checking requires a series of commands and inspection points. They are usually stored as coded instructions in the form of a computer program. 

Within these tests, a myriad of actions, such as clicks or typed characters, are orchestrated, along with multiple verification points. Once these tests are established, they can identify defects in the application, typically within minutes of committing changes to version control. Automated testing shines when it comes to repetitive tasks, periodic executions, and early bug detection, freeing up valuable time & resources. 

Why Do I Need Automated Testing? 

As your application scales up, it becomes more mandatory to perform tests. Automated testing is key to speeding up the testing process and reducing both cost and time-to-feedback for critical errors. 

With automated testing, the time required for frequent releases is decreased, allowing for faster feedback and reducing the time for error correction from days to just minutes.

Automated testing will allow you to: 

  • To overcome repetitive test functionalities and make your app error-free which you may experience in manual testing; your test cases will eventually have a more predictable outcome. 
  • To easily set up and run many tedious test scenarios in tandem. 
  • To save precious time for testing on multiple devices. With automated testing, you can simply run the tests on device simulators instead of real devices. 

Most Popular Tools and Frameworks Used In Automated Testing for Mobile Apps

Tools and Frameworks for Automated Testing for mobile App

These tools and frameworks allow the task force to automate the testing process, which saves time and precious resources. Every tool in the arsenal has its own strengths and unique features so the choice depends on your specific requirements and the nature of the business project. 

Selenium:

  • Selenium is an open-source automated testing framework used to test web applications across different browsers and platforms.
  • It provides a playback tool for authoring functional tests without the need to learn a test scripting language.
  • Selenium offers Selenium WebDriver, which allows you to use various programming languages to create reusable scripts and testing frameworks.

Appium:

  • Appium is a widely used open-source mobile testing framework that supports native, hybrid, and web applications on iOS and Android platforms.
  • It is built on the WebDriver protocol, allowing tests to be written in various programming languages, including Java, Python, and JavaScript.
  • Appium is known for its flexibility, enabling testers to use the same code for testing across different mobile platforms.

WebDriverIO:

  • WebDriverIO is a Node.js-based testing framework that works with Selenium WebDriver.
  • It provides a simple and intuitive API, making it easier to write and run tests.
  • WebDriverIO offers a variety of features, such as built-in element selection, command-line test runner, and support for parallel test execution.

Cucumber:

  • It is a testing framework that follows the Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) approach, using a natural language format that is understandable to both technical and non-technical stakeholders.
  • It allows the creation of living documentation and ensures that the software behaves as expected.

Robot Framework:

  • Robot Framework is another open-source, generic test automation framework that can be used for acceptance testing, acceptance test-driven development (ATDD), and robotic process automation (RPA).
  • It is keyword-driven and can be easily extended with new keywords and libraries, making it highly flexible and customizable.

TestCafe:

  • TestCafe is a commercial test automation framework designed to be fast and easy to use.
  • It supports multiple programming languages and offers excellent cross-browser compatibility, making it a versatile choice.
  • TestCafe is particularly well-suited for web application testing.

Cypress:

  • Cypress is a newer testing framework known for its fast, easy, and reliable testing for anything that runs in a web browser.
  • It is often chosen for front-end testing and can handle end-to-end tests, integration tests, and unit tests.

Is Manual Testing More Labor Intensive? 

Yes, manual testing can be more labor-intensive, especially when compared to automated testing. The manual approach requires human intervention and effort at every step, from test case design to execution and analysis. Testers need to set up the test environment manually, execute each test step, observe the results, and then document and report on the findings. This process can be time-consuming and resource-heavy, especially for large and complex systems. 

However, a purely automated testing approach may not be ideal either. There are certain types of tests and aspects of software quality that are better addressed through manual testing. 

For example, user experience, usability, and certain aspects of functionality may require a human touch to evaluate effectively. 

Concluding Thoughts 

A workable mobile app testing strategy integrates both, manual tests as well as automated tests within the software development lifecycle. 

Both of these approaches have their own fair share of benefits. However, if you want to deliver quality and maximize your benefit, go for a ratio of 80% automated to 20% manual testing. It can serve as a starting point, but the actual mix may depend on the specific needs of the software project. 

Are you in search of a reliable testing expert to perform manual and automated tests for your software products? Branex offers the ultimate solution for mobile app testing and legacy application modernization services. We are not only your local mobile app developers but we also ensure that your mobile app runs smoothly without suffering downtime. 

Have a digital plan for a mobile app? Branex is your ultimate mobility solution.

Ashad Rehman

Ashad is a tech-savvy wordsmith. He translates complex topics into clear, engaging narratives, empowering readers to navigate the ever-evolving tech landscape with confidence. Read his informative articles and get an enjoyable journey in the heart of the tech world.