Automating Mobile App Testing: How to Get Started


Mobile app automation is a key to faster testing, extended test coverage, and better performance of the application. Mobile applications are more complicated than web ones, they have more users, need to work on a wider device range and more OS variations. It also has reacher functionality than a web app. That is why testing is particularly important for launching a mobile application.

In this article, we will speak about automating mobile app testing. You will learn about different types of mobile apps and tests used in mobile app development. We will tell you, how to start automating an existing mobile application. We will also consider the five most popular mobile automation testing tools.


Specifics of mobile testing

Mobile app testing is more challenging than testing web or desktop ones due to the following reasons:

  • Wide variety of screen sizes and hardware characteristics of mobile devices
  • Broad variety of mobile devices: smartphones and tabs, different brands, i.e. Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, HTC etc
  • Different mobile operating systems, their versions and modifications — Android and iOS
  • Frequent updates of the operating systems and the need to constantly test and update the app to ensure that the functionality is not affected.

There are also three types of mobile applications:

  1. Native applications are built specifically for Android and iOS operating systems. They are corrected directly with the smartphone’s hardware and are faster and more reliable in terms of performance
  2. Hybrid apps look and feel like native ones, but are compatible with different operating systems. They are easier to build and maintain, but have slower performance and offer less functionality than native ones
  3. Mobile web apps are server-side applications used via native mobile browsers. They are developed and tested like web apps.

Types of mobile app testing

There are many types of mobile applications that must work seamlessly at the different types of operating systems and devices. To come up with the different technical aspects, several types of mobile app testing are used.

1) Functional testing

It’s the fundamental testing activity in the mobile app development lifecycle. It ensures that all app features work as expected across all devices, operating systems etc. Functional testing is run from the end user’s perspective.

The goals of functional testing:

  • To ensure the product’s quality Functional testing helps the team to catch the potential issues and to fix them before the product is released to the public
  • Customer satisfaction This testing type prepares the software for the use of the end-users. It takes into account the ways the customer interacts with the application. With automation, the team can create logical and successive test cases and efficiently manage them
  • Reducing the risks If the issue is detected after the product release, defect management becomes far more expensive. Thorough functional testing reduces the risks of failure and saves companies significant amounts of money.

Some functional testing scenarios include the unit and integration testing as well. Usually, functional testing covers the following points:

  • Launching and stopping the app
  • The use of memory
  • Re-launching the app after the interruption
  • Interacting with calls and notifications while the app is running

The best practice is to use virtual devices for unit testing and real ones for testing the work of the application.

2) Performance testing

Performance testing checks, how the application works under different conditions. It also includes load testing, stress testing, spike testing, and volume testing. The following aspects are tested during performance testing:

  • App launch (normal — 1-2 seconds)
  • Battery consumption
  • Memory consumption
  • Compatibility with hardware \ other software
  • Using network connection

Optimized performance improves the user experience and satisfaction.

3) Compatibility testing

Compatibility testing is done to ensure that the mobile application works properly in combination with different devices, operating systems, versions, hardware, and software. There are several types of compatibility testing:

  • Hardware compatibility testing
  • Operating system compatibility testing
  • Software compatibility testing
  • Browser compatibility testing
  • Device compatibility testing
  • Network testing
  • Software version testing

This testing type makes sure that the application correctly interacts with all components of the device.

4) Installation testing

Here you ensure that the application downloads properly from App Store or Google Play and the installation is fast. This is the first impression of the user, and you must make sure that the installation is smooth. Here you also will test if the updates are seamless and the uninstallation process is smooth is fast.

5) Security testing

The sensitive information of the users must be safe and sound. You can take care of this with security testing. There are different types of mobile security testing:

  • Penetration testing This is a fake cyber-attack against the application to detect exploitable vulnerabilities. Penetration testing involves the breach of different app systems: APIs, frontend \ backend servers to find vulnerabilities that can be subject to code injection attacks.
  • Vulnerability testing This is an automated surface-level identification of security breaches in the app environment.
6) Real user condition testing

You are to ensure that your app works properly in all conditions, not only in ideal ones. Real user condition testing includes the following things:

  • Connection loss
  • Screen rotation
  • Conflicting applications
  • Low battery charge
  • Interrupting the app by incoming calls, messages, push notifications

This will give you a true look at the experience of the end-user.

7) Accessibility testing

This testing type makes sure that the application can be used by all users, including those with disabilities — vision or color blinding, hearing, other physical and cognitive conditions. It includes the following things:

  • Color contrast
  • Compatibility with screen magnification software
  • Speech recognition
  • Special keyboard

Making the app accessible to all groups of users will improve the reputation of the company and even help to avoid fines.


How to start mobile test automation

To get started with mobile app testing, you need to develop a strategy. Only in this case, the testing process will be smooth, and the coverage and efficiency will be the highest. Now we will give you a brief algorithm for developing a test strategy for mobile app automation testing.

1) Gather testing requirements

This is the first thing to do before developing the automation strategy. Without a clear understanding of what needs to be automated, it is impossible to create the test plan and to design the entire strategy.

During requirements gathering, the team decides on using the devices for testing, simulators \ emulators, operating systems, and versions of software. This will help the developers team to handle the commands, integrations, processes, and improve the collaboration between the development and QA team.

2) Create test plan

At the test planning stage, you will decide on what you will actually do. A good test plan should contain the test objectives and scope, the required resources (people, software, and hardware), and the test schedule.

At the planning stage, you should prioritize the test cases that will be run. Not all test cases are equally important.

3) Decide what can be automated

Actually, the more you automate, the better. Due to test automation, you will reduce the time-to-market of your software. But, do not automate the tests that the manual QA engineer can do cheaper or more efficiently.

Top 3 testing types to automate:

  1. Unit testing Unit tests should be the highest priority for your automation since they are fast, easy to debug and reusable.
  2. Integration testing Here you check that all modules of your application interact as expected. Integration testing is done during all development cycles, and its automation will save you a great amount of time
  3. Functional testing The main point of any application is the correct work of all its functionality. For functional testing, there is a great number of frameworks that will match your codebase.
4) Have a defect management system

With a bug tracking system, you will be able to centralize the test repository and assign the tasks. If your project is more sophisticated, with a lot of configurations, workflows, and data set, issue tracking functionality might limit you. In this case, you’d better invest in a test management system.

5) Simplify test reporting & analysis process

A test reporting system will help you to present your test results in a structured way. You will be able to see the test coverage and make sure that all the bugs have been fixed. The test report tools will present the analytics of the testing process with diagrams and tables that will point out the challenges both in the development and testing process.


Top 5 test automation frameworks for mobile testing

For you, we have prepared an overview of five automation testing frameworks for Android and iOS applications.


Browserstack is a web & mobile testing platform that gives the opportunity to test the websites, mobile apps across all browsers, operating systems, mobile devices, and emulators. It allows running hundreds of tests simultaneously, debugging with video recordings, automated screenshots, and logs.

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  • Able to run location-specific testing
  • Emulates any browser, device, or operating system
  • Supports cross-browser and cross-platform testing
  • Stable performance
  • Intuitive interface, smooth learning curve


  • Doesn’t have a mobile version
  • Consumes many resources
  • High price
  • No live chat support

XCUITest is an open-source testing framework developed by Apple for iOS UI test automation. It is used for testing the interface of native iOS applications built on Swift or Objective-C language. It can run both on simulators and real devices.

2 Automating Mobile 300x154 - Automating Mobile App Testing: How to Get Started Benefits:
  • Doesn’t need to install anything
  • Intuitive environment
  • Direct support \ update by Apple
  • Rich documentation and tutorials designed by Apple
  • Speed of work
  • Test recorder


  • Doesn’t support cross-platform testing
  • Strong iOS development skills are required
  • Test recorder supports only basic actions
  • The framework is developer-orientated

Appium is an open-source automation framework that supports all types of mobile apps: web, hybrid, and native. It has a client-server architecture and a standard API — so, the code written with Appium doesn’t require recompilation or altering.

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  • Supports the majority of programming languages (Java, Ruby, Python, PHP, Javascript, С#
  • Supports automation on physical devices and simulators
  • Can be integrated into CI\CD process
  • Compatible with Selenium
  • Rich documentation


  • Slow launching
  • Synchronization issues
  • Long installation process

Espresso is an Android testing framework that follows test-driven development. It offers a simple API that is easy to learn and that is updated along with new Android versions.

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  • Frequent updates and support of the newest Android versions
  • Automatic synchronization
  • Simple workflow and fast feedback
  • Easy integration with Android studio


  • Supports only Java programming language
  • App source code is required
  • Doesn’t support cross-platform testing

Robotium is an open-source testing environment for writing automation tests for Android applications. It has full support for native and hybrid apps. With Robotium, it’s possible to write scenarios for functional, system, and acceptance testing that span numerous Android activities.

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  • Fast writing of short test cases
  • Automatic synchronization
  • Fast test execution
  • Automatic decision-making
  • Supports both the apps with source codes and APK-files


  • Can’t process Flash and web-components
  • Processes only one app at a time
  • Can’t imitate the work with programmatic keyboard
  • Can’t interact with notifications
  • Slow performance on old devices


Since mobile applications are more complicated than desktop or web ones, you should pay more attention to their testing. Having read this article, you know, how mobile app testing is held, what is the most important, and how to get started with mobile app automation. You are also aware of the most popular testing frameworks in the market.

If you have a mobile application that requires automating, please contact our team. We will design a mobile testing strategy, and offer the best variants for you.

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