Performance testing is a key element in the mobile app testing pipeline. You’ll be able to track and predict performance changes for spikes in connection quality (3G, 4G, LTE), the change in a user’s location, increased traffic loads, and so on.
When it comes to mobile apps, you also need to test the product on different devices to see if the performance is affected by the change in screen dimensions.
In this post, you’ll find out more about what it means to performance test mobile apps as well as get to know about tips and hacks that can improve the tester’s workflow.
By definition, a mobile application is a type of software designed to run on a mobile device – a smartphone or a tablet. They can be web-based or independent. Mobile apps rarely allow multitasking due to limited software capacity, one-screen constraints, and comprehension quality.
While porting a PC app into a mobile-based project can be a way to go, in order to harness the full power of device-specific features, developers tend to build mobile software from the ground up.
Mobile app testing is executed in order to assess the performance of the application in a simulated environment (or several) in order to predict a user’s experience after a software’s public release.
For testers, performance assessment normally means running parallel tests of the system response on a range of devices, checking the app’s performance at peak points of traffic loads, and ensuring that it’s stable under poor internet connection and supports device-specific transactions.
The overall process of mobile app testing is divided into the following stages:
When development teams face time constraints, there is a temptation to skip mobile app performance testing. Doing that, however, is a no-go – otherwise, a tester would ignore oblivious bugs and the app would likely not be approved by distributors (Google Play Market for Android and App Store for iOS).
The list of objectives a tester achieves thanks to performance testing is quite extensive. It includes:
Building a strategy from scratch can be challenging for newly funded startups. The good news is the app performance test approach is similar for apps in all industries and any scale.
In order to successfully execute performance testing, a project manager has to come up with a strategy. Normally, a step-by-step performance testing plan consists of the following steps.
Performance testing will only be as good as its goals. When setting objectives for each case, make sure they correspond to business scopes of building an app. A tester’s top priority would be to assess the functions of the app that are crucial for lead generation – the cart feature for e-commerce stores, the registration and contact form, and so on.
At this stage, the testing team gets to know the architecture of the product to the best extent possible – including its presentation, business, and data levels.
By setting benchmarks for testing, you’ll be able to tell if the execution was a success or a failure. For mobile app testing, the following KPIs are worth consideration:
Testing all the features of the app all at once without prior selection of cases is a common trap for a beginning tester to fall into. Instead, it’s better to outline multiple packet scenarios that are crucial for the app’s reliable performance.
After you have assured crucial features work properly, feel free to move in deeper and test less significant scenarios.
The testing environment is crucial in order to understand the user experience of the app the way people will after it’s live. In order to speed up the testing process, QA specialists mostly use system emulators.
Such tools do a good job of emulating the basic parameters of an operating system and allow testers to get a sense of the look and feel of the interface. However, to assess the performance of features that require camera permission, GPS, and other device-specific functions, it’s better to use real hardware.
Testing should fit into a company’s general development framework. For Agile, the tester should be ready to implement the principles of continuous integration. If a company is using Waterfall, a tester should align their workflow accordingly – this means embracing regular bug reports and regression tests.
Adopting the same methodology for testing as for development allows both parties involved to be on the same page regarding the project, improve communication, and speed up the decision-making process.
Due to the fact that mobile devices are connected to the internet through third-party carriers, the latency and bandwidth of the networks can vary. Keeping the carrier network differences in mind allows a QA specialist to optimize the app’s performance and improve user experience.
Environment setup is capable of determining the accuracy of tests and the number of insights a QA specialist can gather out of any executed test. Setting up an environment for an app or mobile website performance testing consists of the following steps:
Mobile app testing is often even more challenging and tedious than that of PC software. A large variety of devices, increased mobility of users, the use of device-specific features – all of this can turn into a roadblock for a tester.
Here’s a list of the most common challenges when performance testing mobile apps:
There are two approaches testers use to assess the performance of mobile apps. The first one is to test the server-side performance of the product. This way, the development team is capable to check the logic and the readiness of the app. The second one is to assess the performance of the app on a device (either physical or emulated). This way, a tester will be able to see the end product from a user’s point of view.
Here are the most popular tools for server-side performance testing.
JMeter is the most widely-used tool for mobile performance testing. It’s an open-source tool with extendable functionality (thanks to plugin support) and an easy-to-use interface. There’s a wide range of testing features – including multiple load generators and controllers.
The software can also be used for volume and availability testing. JMeter supports data visualization tools and HTML-rich reporting.
The development team provides users with comprehensive documentation that makes it easier to master the tool.
Gatling is an open-source tool for performance testing founded in 2012. The key features of the solution include:
Gatling is simple and easy to use – thus, it’s a good fit for junior performance testers However, developers shouldn’t mistaken a simple interface for the lack of functionality – in fact, Gatling allows you to conduct tests with up to 600 concurrent users. The tool has two executables – for running tests and recording them.
After testing the server-side performance of the app, the team runs a code on the physical devices in emulated environments. For such testing, the following tools can come in handy.
Sauce Labs is a cloud-based test platform. It covers 800 different browser types to create a controlled bug-free environment for testers. The tool allows you to run parallel tests that don’t interfere with one another.
Sauce Labs allows developers to handle large testing volumes and automate mobile tests with little programming knowledge.
Appium Studio is a free tool for mobile performance testing. It’s widely praised around the web thanks to a code that’s easy to read and write, a wide variety of supported tests, and a unique XPath.
Appium Studio gives app testers access to device-specific features – including TouchID, barcode scanning, and many more.
Robotium is a tool for automated testing supporting both native and hybrid Android apps. The framework gives developers enough freedom – you’ll be able to write custom systems, functions, and test scenarios.
Selendroid is a framework designed for Selenium – a widespread testing tool that allows QA specialists to test multiple Android apps simultaneously and switch between cases. With the tool, you can use several emulators at once. The downside of the tool is that a tester has to write code via Selenium 2 API.
Testdroid is a handy tool for both manual and automated tests. You’ll be able to record the execution process and sort through test cases and their respective reports. The tool is free to use – it has dozens of proprietary open-source plugins as well as its own API.
Mobile app performance testing is quite complex. There are dozens of activities a QA specialist needs to perform in order to ensure the product works as required.
The most common examples of performance testing are the following:
Mobile performance testing is efficient if handled by a team of certified professionals. At PerformanceLab, we offer QA resources for mobile applications in finance, retail, insurance, hospitality, and other industries.
Our team makes a point to reduce testing cost as well as shorten the amount of time needed to deliver an app to market. We’ll assign a dedicated project manager to a team of testers working on your app, and you’ll be able to contact an account manager in order to get reports and status updates.
The team of testers at PerformanceLab is also fully integrated with software engineers and DevOps working on your project. We adapt to our client project management methodology as well to ensure the workflow will be as smooth as possible.
Take a look at our services to know more about PerformanceLab. If you’d like to have us on board for your next project, contact our team – we’ll reach out in no time!