In 2018, users downloaded 194 billion mobile apps, compared to 178 billion of apps installed in 2017. How can interpret this fact? Well, mobile product quality defines the chances of survival. In a world of ‘DevOps’, test automation is undoubtedly the key to finding bugs and ensuring app quality in a timely fashion. Yet, manual device testing is still a critical part of a solid mobile app testing strategy to ensure a flawless reputation and smooth operation of apps on the real devices your customers use.
Always Test on Real Devices for Reliability
You know what users do with apps that freeze and crash whenever they’re trying to use it. They delete it faster than you can say continuous testing. Before you roll out an app, testing it thoroughly is a must.
When it comes to what to be used for testing, some mobile teams may still incorporate emulators in their strategy. Sure, using emulators is a much cheaper and easily accessible option. But only testing on real devices helps you get reliable and valuable testing feedback, regardless if you do manual device testing or automated testing on real devices. After all, users run apps on real devices, not emulators. A mistake or a missing parameter in an emulator could produce false positives and false negatives in testing, which eventually misguide your testing results.
Speaking of real device testing, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have an army of physical devices in the office. In fact, the challenges of acquiring and maintaining devices have been pushing more app development companies to turn to test on cloud-based real devices. This approach gives them access to a wide range of smartphones, tablets and operating system versions while saving budget and time.
8 Common Use Cases of Manual Device Testing
In many cases, automated testing is still the best way to improve test efficiency and get instant developer feedback. However, there are some scenarios that it’s not very technically feasible to automate the tests or it may cost a lot of resources to automate a small test step. That’s why even though automated testing is getting more credit, manual device testing is still playing a significant role in the whole software development lifecycle.
Testing manually on real devices is a more efficient method at project start when test strategy and requirements are being prepared or aren’t set yet. If the project is small and the scope of features is modest, you can test the functionality and usability of your app manually quickly and cost-effectively. This type of testing will also let you test the user interface of an app accurately, quickly identify crashes and reproduce the real user experience precisely.
Let’s take a look at a list of common use cases of doing manual app testing on real devices.
1. Instantly Replicate Bugs Users Report
Using a real mobile device lets you replicate a reported issue quickly. Following a user’s bug report, developers can go through the exact steps that led to a given problem and understand where and why the bug popped up.
Manual testing on a real device is way more effective in this case compared to automated testing, where a developer would need to set up the testing framework, insert requirements, set up scenarios and only then run tests.
2. Verify Device Compatibility
If there are any compatibility problems with one specific mobile device, you can see what caused it by doing manual testing on that one particular real device. Only by installing an app on a device can you truly see if it operates as intended and if there are any compatibility issues. Once you’ve found them, you’ll be able to eliminate these issues before they annoy your users. Also, compatibility testing is not a frequent, repetitive task, so you wouldn’t want to apply automated testing to it.
3. Check UI/UX Interactions Quickly
Manual testing on a real mobile device is probably the most popular approach to UI testing. Your QA team can determine immediately if the app’s UX is functioning as intended. They will also see if all the graphical elements meet the app’s requirements and guidelines. Manual device testing allows developers to reproduce real user interactions with the app and catch interaction bugs before users notice them.
4. See How App Responds to the Standby Mode
The Standby mode is a standard for all modern mobile devices. As a developer, you have to make sure that the app responds as expected to the idle mode (when there is no network access, the app doesn’t sync, it doesn’t run any tasks in the background). It is essential to test the standby mode manually to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with the app and the app works as expected.
5. Check Device Permissions
QA engineers typically test new device permissions manually, especially when they assume these permissions aren’t going to be used a lot. By contrast, it only makes sense to automate testing for critical permissions that are going to be used all the time. In cases when an app requires logged in users to run and maintain numerous levels of permissions, manual testing on a real device is the best choice.
6. Verify App Connectivity
The correct operation of many apps depends on network connectivity. If that is the case with your application, it’s best to test the app manually in a real network environment to see how it behaves if the connectivity drops.
By testing an app manually on a real device, you’ll be able to make sure its performance is consistent in different network circumstances. What if a user was sending a message as he was leaving the coffee shop where he was using the WI-Fi? Testers need to make sure that the message gets to the server when the Wi-Fi network is lost and the user’s phone switches to a cellular connection. What better way to do that than on an actual device?
7. Check App Navigation Gestures
Android guidelines strongly recommend interacting with an app manually to test the accessibility of your application and “put yourself in the shoes of the user.” You always need real people to interact with your app on real devices to see if there are any problems with the navigation. For instance, users with larger fingers will not be able to tap comfortably on small tabs, located closely on a small part of the screen. You will never discover this issue unless you test manually.
8. Check App Performance While Other Apps Are Running
What happens to your app when a user receives an incoming call? What if they get a notification from a messenger? These and many other questions need to be answered when your app runs in parallel with other apps. The best way to check what happens is to test its behavior manually, juggling between your and other apps. The app under testing should remain in the same state as it was before it went to the background. If you test the app’s performance manually on a real device, you will be able to spot any glitches or hang-up instantly.
Manual device testing is still an essential part of verifying mobile app quality. This traditional approach is a good fit for the projects’ initial phase when the team is just planning out its testing strategy and requirements. It is irreplaceable when it comes to quick UI interactions check-up, replicating a bug quickly or checking your app’s performance simultaneously with other apps. More than that, manual device testing lets you test navigation gestures accessibility and connectivity like no other approach.
While emulators simply emulate the experience, you can see exactly what your users experience and see what they see only when you’re testing an app on a real device. Bitbar is an emulator-free zone, where you can test your app manually against any of hundreds of real devices in the cloud. Make sure that every user of your app gets the best possible experience now.
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