Low test coverage across mobile apps can have serious and expensive consequences. Consumers already have higher churn rates and shorter attention spans on mobile, meaning that most apps are set up to fail by hyper-competitive business environments and rising consumer expectations. Considering that the average app loses 77% of its daily active users (DAUs) within three days of being downloaded, application quality is paramount to succeeding in this rapidly growing and extremely challenging market. 

Exacerbating these challenges is the fact that bugs can take longer to fix since they are often distributed on public app marketplaces like the Apple Store and the Google Play Store that require approval processes and the fact that customers typically need to take action to update the app on their devices to see the bug fixes. 

In order for companies to maximize the value of their mobile apps, test automation solutions need to level up to the speed of agile development, reduce infrastructure and management costs, and democratize mobile app testing. 

Mobile App Testing Is Falling Behind 

Despite the growing impact of mobile applications for businesses bottom line, testing teams continue to struggle to manage the quality of their mobile apps. Many teams heavily rely on manual testing, which is slow, time-consuming, error-prone, and inevitably leads to gaps in coverage and delays time to market. 

Automated testing with mobile apps is often just as tedious and is technically challenging. Mobile test automation tools are cumbersome to implement, time-consuming to manage, and can be  limited to specific platforms. It’s not just the automaton tools that are a challenge to implement and scale, it’s also the devices that the tests are ultimately run against. Whether the devices are real or virtual, managing them in house can be technical, cumbersome and expensive, and using third party device farms comes at a cost.

Top Challenges of Mobile Application Testing

Manual mobile testing is slow and inefficient: Like software testing for web applications, manual testing is difficult to scale for mobile applications. As mobile applications become more complex, device models and operating systems multiply, and enterprises adopt continuous delivery, manual mobile app testing will continue to be a bottleneck for development teams.  

Scripted test automation tools are complex and high maintenance: Common scripted tools like Appium, XCUI, and Espresso are used to automate mobile application testing, but are brittle, complex and not always supported cross platform. Enterprises either need to hire additional QA engineers or SDETs to scale and maintain testing, or force QA teams to rely on already over extended developers for support. Either approach is expensive and liable to slow delivery timelines. 

Device management is time-consuming and expensive: Real and/or virtual devices are necessary for automating mobile application testing, but both options pose efficiency, accuracy and cost-management challenges for mobile testers. 

Keeping up with different device models and operating systems quickly introduces scalability issues since there are over 24,000 distinct types of Android mobile devices, which could be operating on any of the 14 major Android OS versions. There are also over 30 types of iPhones with 17 possible operating systems. Testing all possible combinations, particularly with shortened delivery cycles is, let’s face it, impossible. 

Teams who manage a fleet of real devices for testing are experiencing pronounced pain especially as companies continue to adopt hybrid or fully remote work models. Having adequate resources available for distributed testing organizations is unsustainable, particularly as budgets are likely constrained for 2024. Similarly, third-party device farms can be expensive and unreliable. 

Virtual devices are an alternative to testing on real devices and are a cheaper and more scalable approach. Mobile developers use virtual devices throughout development typically relying on platform specific IDEs like Android Studio and XCode, but expecting a manual tester to set up virtual devices locally for running E2E regression tests is unrealistic and ineffective since using local virtual devices can come with parallelization limitations which in turn,  extends the time to market. 

Mobile automation testing is specialized and siloed: Most enterprises look for consistent user experiences across their web and mobile applications, yet their development and testing processes are heavily siloed. Separate teams using disparate testing tools often leads to tech sprawl, inconsistent user experiences, overburdened teams, and defects discovered late in the software development life cycle. Or worse, in production. 

Mobile applications have become more complex: As enterprise adoption of mobile applications have become widespread, the technologies used to develop them have evolved. There are countless ways to develop mobile applications, and the underlying technology has a profound impact on the way in which tests can be automated. 

Webviews are a great example; commonly used to display web content inside a native application. A benefit to this approach is the ability to manage content outside the code base, which makes it easier for non-mobile developers to make changes to in-app content and provides a faster time to market since the content circumvents the app store. As a tester, it’s not always obvious if you're interacting with a native component or a webview component, but from an automation perspective, there are critical differences. Despite their popularity in mobile app development, most automated mobile testing tools struggle to effectively test Webviews. 

Mobile App Testing For a Digital-First World

Enterprises need a better solution for managing the quality of mobile apps as their value continues to grow and development cycles continue to accelerate. Slow, inefficient mobile testing will continue to accelerate costs to companies as more and more consumers adopt mobile applications to achieve their goals. 

Time-pressed software development teams need streamlined platforms that unify the performance of cloud-based testing, the ease of low-code test creation with fully managed device infrastructure, and the power of AI to make mobile application testing match the demands of modern development and digital-first consumers. 

Build the Future of Mobile App Testing with mabl’s Private Beta Program 

Mabl is building a cutting-edge automated mobile app testing solution designed to help enterprises create high-quality mobile applications. Nominate your team to participate in early access to our limited private beta program, even if your company isn’t a current mabl customer. Accelerate end-to-end testing with low-code test creation with devices in the cloud, extend your tests with Appium scripts and API requests, trigger cloud-based test execution in parallel, and reduce test maintenance with mobile-centric AI-powered auto-healing. Request access now.