Mobile Test Automation in 2018: Biggest Challenges and Emerging Trends

Mobile Test Automation in 2018: Biggest Challenges and Emerging Trends

That — in a mobile-first future (turned into present) — mobile test automation will challenge manual testing's “supremacy” is no news for anyone. And it sure looks that 2018 is going to be the year when automation will have a huge impact on the mobile QA and testing space.

So, what are the emerging trends in mobile application testing this year? And how are the new approaches any different from the 2017 ones? Which broad technology trends will be shaping them? What challenges to expect?

What are the mobile test automation tools to add to your toolbox and the best practices to leverage for pacing up the whole testing process? For coping with the pressure of an increasingly tight release schedule without compromising quality?

Let's get you some answers now:

1. About Mobile Test Automation: Beyond the Obvious 

The conventional definition goes something like this:

“Software that drives the user interface and compares actual results against expected results."

Yet, there's much more to automated mobile app testing tools' role than “just” automating test execution. This is just a small and nonetheless time-consuming part of the whole process.

Instead, you can use these tools to their full potential for streamlining the entire testing process performed on your mobile software. 

… for actually leveraging that dead time that you'd otherwise be investing in waiting for them to set up your build and deliver you the results.

2. 3 Key Challenges to Expect When Doing Mobile Automation Testing

Reducing costs, boosting your team's productivity, speeding up your app's delivery process... these all come at a cost.

Or better said: 

All these benefits come along with some key challenges that your team will need to be prepared for and to properly address.

Challenges such as:

  1. accepting, then adapting to a reality where time is a scarce and therefore highly valuable resource; mobile apps keep getting released at an intimidatingly alert pace, your own future mobile app will require constant and frequent updates, so... time will definitely not be on your side and you'll need to adjust your whole mobile test automation strategy accordingly
  2. and speaking of strategy and strategizing: just implementing an automation tool for mobile testing and expecting it to run a “one man/tool show” is scarcely enough; multiple, strategically selected tools will need to be leveraged and an entire strategy set in place for a successful automated testing process of your app
  3. your tested mobile app will need to provide a seamless user experience, to ensure an error-free end product, while incorporating some robust security measures for protecting sensitive data; these are your automated testing process' 2 main objectives, which call for comprehensive testing solutions

And the list could go on with the challenge of:

  • synchronizing your testing tool stack with your individual team members' skills
  • the “risk” of ending up with false “alerts”, depending on the given environment and device's stability...

Yet, I shall stop here with the challenges that you'll need to expect once you launch your mobile test automation process (and maybe dedicate them an entire future post).

And carry on with the trends in automated testing on mobile to consider and to tailor your strategy to this year:

3. 8 Most Influencing Mobile Test Automation Trends in 2018

If in 2017 leveraging automation tools for mobile testing meant mostly:

  • using an open source framework 
  • applying continuous testing

… this year new trends impacting QA teams' approach to automatic mobile app testing emerge. Let me point out to you 8 of the most influencing ones:

3.1. Tailoring Your Automated Testing Strategy to Suit All Devices, All Sizes

Just consider all these possible scenarios that your testing strategy will need to fit perfectly into:

  • older iPhones, with smaller screens (a certain button in your app might be difficult to spot, and therefore unclickable, on those specific devices)
  • even older mobile devices might present compatibility issues

It's crucial to include as many devices as possible in your mobile test automation strategy. And to run your tests on them all.

And the solution here can only be that of embracing innovation. 

For instance:

cloud-based phones + a script

… makes the “magic formula” to leverage for coping with the challenges in the 2 above-mentioned scenarios.

Continuous innovation I mean! Backed by continuous testing across multiple test automation platforms.

This is the surest way to adjust your entire automated mobile testing strategy for ensuring that your app's responsive and secure across ALL devices.

3.2 The Need to Keep Up With an “Aggressively Tight” Release Schedule

Keep up with the fast pace or... be left behind!

Since mobile apps' release cycles will be getting tougher and tougher, you should expect and adapt to the following key consequences:

  1. challengingly shorter testing schedules
  2. constant and frequent updates aimed at continuously improving the user experience
  3. less time for writing stable test code and integrating it into the given framework
  4. and moreover, your code will need to run simultaneously on all mobile platforms

Time will definitely not be on your side this year, whether you're in the development or in the testing team! Despite this... expectations in terms of efficiency will continue to grow.

3.3 Automating the Setup of Data

Have you ever tried to estimate just how much time you invested in setting up the entire test “scenario” instead of actually... testing your mobile app?

Creating users, setting up a history etc.

Of  course, the first solution for streamlining the entire process of “setting up the preconditions to a test” that comes to your mind is:

leveraging testing tools that would provide the user interface

And yet, this would only lead to... more dead time and more maintenance effort to invest in case something wrong happens.

Instead, consider this solution for speeding up mobile test automation when dealing with a considerable pile of setup code:

a database export/import feature that would set up a text file by user, group or account

3.4 Enhanced Visibility for Every Quality Metric

Transparency becomes of critical importance as the testing process grows more and more complex and the testing framework gets constantly upgraded.

Therefore, when selecting the mobile test automation tools to integrate into your strategy, consider those that provide enhanced visibility for every quality metric.

This way, with every quality goal there, easily accessible and visible to anyone in your team, tracking down and retrieving all previous tests and identified issues becomes far easier.

And less time-consuming. Testing-related queries and failure rates and time spent on certain issues will be much easier to handle.

3.5 Higher Automation Coverage

Both a major challenge and a powerful trend, the need for enhanced test coverage is something that you can't afford to overlook when setting up your testing strategy.

And this, whether you go for an open source platform or for a licensed tool.

Make sure that your chosen testing platform provides you with high test coverage. That every single issue with your app gets addressed.

In this respect, just consider the new technologies determining all these emerging mobile test automation trends:

  • chatbots
  • AI
  • virtual reality

Your mobile test automation strategy will need cover these technologies integrated into your app, as well. And to ensure that they're properly functional.

3.6 Implementing ID-Led Tools and Testing Center of Excellence

With new testing challenges that are headed your way, leveraging a stable testing platform with

  • testing frameworks
  • emulators
  • desktop browsers
  • a wide range of mobile devices

... will only go from might to must.

And the main benefits that you'd be “reaping”?

  • ensuring your app's quality
  • higher test coverage
  • fewer inconsistencies specific to the given testing environment

Where do you add that such a setup would enable you to update your mobile test automation framework nice and easy.

3.8 Slowly Moving Away from the “Automate Everything” Trend

This year is all about leaving the “automated everything” — or, better said, “naive automation” —  behind.

And considering just how deep it would be reasonable and efficiently enough to automate. No need to automate code that never breaks and that, moreover, is frequently updated, too.

This would only lead to high-maintenance effort and a frustratingly slow rerunning process.

Instead, maybe a few GUI cheks, just to make sure that nothing large has broken, followed by some manual testing for emergent risks, might be enough. No need to overdo.

Since efficiency (time-efficiency here included) is the whole point in leveraging mobile test automation tools after all.

The END! Stay tuned now, for we're not done exploring this topic.

Do expect a handful of trending mobile automating testing platforms & tools trending this year in my future post!