Mobile Testing Coverage Strategy: OS Families vs. Minor OS Versions?

As the author of the Factors coverage magazine, I am often asked about the operating system (OS) testing strategy.

Some teams would state that testing on the Latest, Latest – 1, and Latest -2 for Android is sufficient, and for iOS testing on the Latest and Latest -1 would satisfy their coverage risks. I actually say that it is not about covering the specific minor OS version, but covering sufficiently the representative OS families. In this post, i will explain my recommended strategy.

Mobile OS Versions Market Share

Late September 2017, Android platform is led by top 5 OS families (4.x, 5.x, 6.x, 7.x and latest 8.x).

In fact, Android 4.x includes 2 families – JellyBeans and KitKat, with the latest being more widely used and popular.

OEM’s are very late in updating their smartphones to the latest OS version, and when they do, they only update the most recent smartphone versions and not the legacy ones that in many cases, cover a large user base.

For Android, as we can see above, any app developer that supports the global market, cannot disregard a market share of 15.1% like the KitKat holds – KitKat is by far not a Latest -2 or even – 4 OS platform. Testing, therefore, an Android App needs to go quite far in the history of the Android OS versions to provide sufficient and risk-free testing.

iOS isn’t that simple either. This platform, especially after the recent iOS11 release, is now split into 3 major OS families that include iOS9.3.5, iOS 10.3.3 and iOS11.0. Each iOS family supports quite important devices that were left behind and did not receive the most up to date iOS update. As an example, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad Mini 2 are stuck on iOS9.3.5, and iPhone 5C, iPhone 5 and iPad 4th Generation are stuck on iOS 10.3.3.

 

While the above market share still doesn’t reflect the iOS11 new market share, there is still 9% of iOS9.x users out there and there will be at least a similar number for iOS10.x once most users shift to iOS11. As in Android, here also we see 3 major OS families that need to be included in the testing strategies.

Beta Testing

Many organizations are being naive to the market innovation, and are not taking advantage of the public beta releases and developer previews coming from both Apple and Google. Android Oreo (8.0) and iOS11 were available for testing prior to their general availability release, however, many teams didn’t leverage this and are finding late in the game the defects, and in many cases, are hearing about them from their customers.

Above is the iOS11 GA bug that was reported, while below is an Android Oreo OS version specific defect that impacted many end-users.

 

Recommendations

Each customer has its unique user base, target geographies and in many cases also access to the user’s analytics.

Customers should follow the following guidelines

  • Monitor your user base and build a test lab that addresses the top user’s devices/OS permutations (use your own analytics)
  • Learn and monitor the market trends like the above so they do cover in addition to their analytics the major OS families (5-10% and above market share should be highly considered)
  • Testing on public OS beta’s is a must. Google Pixels, iOS Simulators as well as desktop web beta versions are always available for testing from day one
  • Mix device manufactures with the selected OS families to maximize the coverage (e.g. Samsung XX/Android 6.x, LG XX/Android 5.1.x, etc.)
  • Cover real environment testing to identify real-life glitches like mentioned above and as we see often in the market.

 

Happy Testing!

 

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