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Oleksandr Mazur, QA Automation Engineer & Mentor

Jun 24, 2023 10 min read

Mobile Automation Testing: Where Do You Start?

Mobile apps are becoming comprehensive today. According to Statista, people downloaded around 255 billion mobile apps in 2022, up from 140 billion in 2016, so it's no surprise that mobile app testing automation is on the rise. You might wonder, "Where should I begin with this mobile automation testing?" In this article, we are ready to answer all your questions.

Mobile Automation Testing: Where Do You Start

Do you need to automate mobile testing?

Automation for mobile testing is the process of using special software tools and scripts to automatically execute test scenarios and check the functionality, stability, and interaction of a mobile application on different devices and platforms. Automated mobile testing allows for greater efficiency, speed, and accuracy of mobile application testing. It helps to detect errors, flaws, and incompatibilities of the software on different devices and versions of operating systems and also provides coverage of a broader range of test scenarios.

With proper planning and tool selection, automation can improve the quality of your mobile app testing. Considering all the above points, automated testing of mobile applications is necessary for your project.

Necessary note: a typology of mobile applications

Mobile apps are usually built to provide specific functionality or services to users, ranging from productivity tools to social networking, gaming, entertainment, e-commerce, and more. To better understand the process of creating mobile automation tests, it is necessary to understand their typification to consider all the features. 




Each type of application has advantages and limitations, and the choice depends on the project's needs, budget, and target audience. Every mobile application requires its approach, testing, and a separate list of tools.

Features of mobile testing automation

It is important to focus on features of mobile automation tests, which include several essential aspects:

01

Testing may require spending on cloud services that provide access to virtual devices or emulators to run tests on various mobile devices. These services usually allow you to choose specific phone or tablet models and different versions of operating systems.

02

Some features, such as Face ID, can only be tested on real devices, so it is vital to determine which devices are required for testing during the test documentation phase.

03

Not all frameworks support mobile automation, so you must choose a suitable framework, for example, WebdriverIO with Appium, which allows you to interact with a mobile application.

04

Automated mobile tests can be slower than web testing for several reasons, such as additional delays on external services and limited device resources.

05

App distribution platforms such as Google Play and App Store have specific requirements and policies that must be met to publish apps.

06

Finally, application limitations related to operating system versions must be considered to ensure compatibility and correct operation of automated tests.

Steps of Mobile Testing Automation

Step 1: Preparation of the application for the automation process

Developers should add unique and easy-to-use locators for elements, such as accessibility IDs. This is especially important for native and hybrid applications, although web applications usually already have such locators. Depending on the used mobile automation testing tool, developers must create a version of the application that can be inspected - debug version (dev mode). This will allow access to the application code for further automation. Methods for creating such a version of the application are usually described in the documentation of the development framework.

Step 2: Choose a set of technologies for automated testing

Depending on the available technologies on the project, a set of technologies must be chosen for automated testing. This includes selecting a programming language and a testing framework and, depending on the needs, a cloud-based testing platform that provides access to real or emulated devices (Android) or simulated devices (iOS). For example, platforms that can be used are BrowserStack, SauceLabs, and TestingBot.

Step 3: Creation of test documentation for automated testing of mobile apps

If the project already has test documentation, its suitability for automation is evaluated. Manual test cases are reviewed and decided which ones will be automated.

Step 4: Set up environments and reporters according to mobile automation testing standards

Installation of most frameworks and tools on working machines and synchronization of the framework with the cloud testing service. Selection and configuration of reporting that displays test results.

Step 5: Automation of written test cases for mobile testing automation

Automated test cases are developed, considering the possibility of using one framework for all platforms. Of course, in the case of a considerable difference in the interfaces of different platforms, each platform may need a different approach. However, developers usually try to make an interface with a minimum of differences and create one code of automated testing for all platforms.

Step 6: Running test cases and analyzing the results

Test cases are launched in one or more threads in headless mode. Cross-browser testing is also done for web applications. After the automated mobile tests are performed, the results are analyzed, and bugs are reported. The reports are given to the project manager to assess the system’s quality and take further measures to raise the quality of the product. The primary stages of mobile testing automation are listed, suitable for most applications, but do not forget that they may vary depending on the project’s complexity.

Our frameworks and tools for mobile automation testing

We have prepared a review of the most popular frameworks and tools of automation for mobile testing. Our prepared list will help you familiarize yourself with the advantages and disadvantages of the most famous tools.

WebdriverIO

WebdriverIO is a framework for automating web, mobile, and desktop application testing using Selenium WebDriver. This framework is open source and has very extensive and informative documentation.


  • speed;
  • a time-tested framework that is regularly updated;
  • convenient API.

  • only works with JS/TS.

Selenium

Selenium is a framework that lets you automate the testing of mobile applications on various platforms, including Android and iOS. Selenium was initially designed to automate web applications, but the Selenium WebDriver extension allows you to use it to automate mobile applications.


  • many people know this test framework;
  • the ability to write in the following programming languages: JS/TS, C#, Python, and Java.

  • obstinacy, clearly inferior in simplicity to new frameworks;
  • speed, unhurried;
  • difficult to set up and use.

Appium

Appium is a cross-platform, open-source platform for automating mobile testing. This allows you to automate mobile testing using the same test code on different platforms, including Android and iOS. An exciting feature of Appium is that it also supports the following Espresso and XCUITest under the hood.


  • cross-platform support;
  • support for various languages and frameworks;
  • rich documentation.

  • setup complexity and experience requirements;
  • slow startup;
  • lengthy installation process.

Espresso

Espresso is specially designed for testing Android applications and provides advanced features to ensure speed, reliability, and ease of testing. It offers a simple API that is easy to learn and updated with new Android versions.


  • frequent updates and support for the latest Android versions;
  • automatic synchronization;
  • ease of use.

  • dependency on UI elements;
  • supports only the Java programming language;
  • does not support cross-platform testing.

XCUITest

XCUITest is an automated mobile testing framework designed for testing iOS applications. It is designed specifically for this platform and provides many opportunities for fast and reliable application testing.


  • support for asynchronous operations;
  • possibilities of interaction with all elements of the user interface;
  • speed of work;
  • doesn’t need to install anything.

  • only used for iOS;
  • the complexity of the setting;
  • does not support cross-platform testing.

BrowserStack

BrowserStack provides developer teams instant access to a cloud platform that allows them to comprehensively test their websites and mobile applications for functionality, performance, and visual appeal so they can release bug-free software faster and at scale.


  • supports cross-browser and cross-platform testing;
  • high speed and stable performance;
  • ease of use through an intuitive interface.

  • high usage cost;
  • spending a lot of resources.

SauceLabs

SauceLabs is a cloud-based automated testing platform that specializes in web and mobile application testing. It provides a cross-device, operating system, and cross-browser test environment that allows developers and QA engineers to run tests on various configurations efficiently


  • cross-platform;
  • cloud infrastructure;
  • a wide selection of browsers and devices;
  • simplified test management

  • cost;
  • dependence on Internet connection;
  • limitation of own resources (restriction of the ability to configure the environment according to one's own needs).

Our tips for creating mobile automation tests

Creating automated tests for mobile apps can be challenging, but it's worth the effort. If you want to improve the quality of your app, here is a list of our tips for creating automated tests for mobile apps to help you along the way:

01

In mobile automation, assigning short unique selectors to the elements to be tested is crucial, as this affects the response speed of the application.

02

Using a framework that supports writing cross-platform tests is a best practice.

03

It is recommended to use the same selectors for all platforms.

04

Considering that the same test works stably in both local and cloud environments is essential.

05

Configure reporters for different platforms to get timely test results reports, considering their features.

06

To prevent the pesticide effect recommended to duplicate automated tests with manual ones periodically.


Conclusion



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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you provide advice on choosing a mobile app automation approach?

If you need help automating mobile applications, contact our team. Our experts are ready to address any inquiries and offer comprehensive support in the automation of mobile applications.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of automated mobile application testing?

Benefits over manual testing include the speed of testing, automatic feature testing, and integration with other tools. However, the disadvantages can be the complexity of preparing automated scenarios, the limited ability to test the user interface, and the cost of setting up a test environment.

Do you need programming skills for the automated testing of mobile applications?

Preference is given to programming skills for the automated testing of mobile applications. Many automation tools are programming-based or use custom scripting languages to create automated tests.

How does mobile automation testing differ from desktop testing?

Mobile testing considers factors such as different screen resolutions, device fragmentation, touch gestures, mobile-specific functionalities (e.g., push notifications), and varying network conditions.

Do I need to write a separate test for iOS and Android?

Not necessarily. Tools like Appium allow you to write a single test that can be executed on both platforms. However, due to platform-specific features, sometimes it's necessary to have separate tests or conditions within tests.

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