How To Adapt to Mobile Testing Complexity Increase Due to External App Context Features?

If you follow my blogs, white papers and webinars for the past years you are already familiar with the most known common challenges around mobile app testing such as:

  • Device/OS proliferation and market fragmentation
  • Ability to test the real end-user environment within and outside of the app
  • testing both visual aspects/UI as well as native elements of the app
  • Keeping up with the agile and release cadence while maintaining high app quality
  • Testing for a full digital experience for both mobile, web, IOT etc.

 

If the above is somehow addressed by various tools, techniques and guidelines there is a growing trend in the industry in both iOS and Android platforms that are adding another layer of complexity to testers and developers. With iOS 10 and Android 7 as the latest OS releases but also with earlier versions, we start to see more abilities to engage with the app outside of the app.

imessage-apps-2-800x525

If we look at the recent change made in iOS 10 around iMessage, it is clear that Apple is trying to enable mobile app developers better engagement with their end-users’ even outside of the app itself.  Heavy messaging users can remain in the same app/screen that they’re using and respond quickly to external apps notifications in various ways.

This innovation is a clear continuation to the Force Touch (3D Touch) functionality that was introduced with iOS 9 and iPhone 6S/6S Plus that also allows users to click on the App icon without opening the full app and perform a quick action like writing a new facebook status, upload an image to facebook or other app related activities.

Add to the above capabilities the recent Android 7.1 App Shortcuts support which allow users to create relevant shortcuts on the device screen for app capabilities that they commonly use. More example that you can refer to is the Android 7.0 split window feature – allowing app to consume 1/2 or 1/3 of the device screen while the remaining screen is allocated to a different app that might compete with yours on HW/System resources etc.

So What Has Changed?

Quick answer – A lot 🙂

As I recently wrote in my blog around mobile test optimization, the testing plans for different mobile OS versions is becoming more and more complex and requires a solid methodology so teams can defer the right tests (manual/automation) to the right platforms based on supported features of the app and the capabilities of the devices – testing app shortcuts (see below an example)  is obviously irrelevant on Android 7.0 and below, so the test matrix/decision tree needs to accommodate this.

appshortcuts

To be able to test different app context you need to make sure that you have the following capabilities from a tool perspective in place and also to include the following test scenarios in your test plan.

  1. Testing tools now must support the App under test and also the full device system in order to engage with system popups, iMessage apps, device screen for force-touch based testing etc.
  2. The test plan in whatever tree or tool is being managed, ought to accommodate to the variance between platforms and devices and allow relevant testing of apps–>features–>devices (see my referenced blog above for more insights)
  3. New test scenarios to be considered if your app leverages such capabilities
    1. What happens when incoming events like calls or text messages occur while the app interacts within an iMessage/Split screen/shortcut etc. also what happens when these apps receive other notifications (lock screen or within the unlocked device screen)
    2. What happens to the app when there are degraded environment conditions like loss of network connection, flight mode is on etc. – note that apps like iMessage rely on network availability
    3. If your app engages with a 3rd party app – take into account that these apps are also exposed to defects that are not under your control – Facebook, iMessage, others. If they are not working well or crashes, you need to simulate early in your testing activities such scenario and understand the impact on your app and business
    4. Apps that work with iMessage as an example might require a different app submission process and also might be part of a separate binary build that needs to be tested properly – take this into account.
    5. Since the above complexities are all dependent on the market and OS releases, make sure that any Beta version that is released gets proper testing by your teams to ensure no regressions occur.

I hope these insights can help you plan for a new trend/future that I see growing in the mobile space that IMO does add an extra layer of challenges to existing test plans.

Comments are always welcomed.

Happy Testing!

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