February 3, 2015

Mobile Apps Win Out: Top Testing Considerations


Hostway Team

SEO and web icons setToday's mobile device users understand the impact that those devices have on their lives – not only in day-to-day tasks, but in the workplace as well. In the current enterprise environment, mobility is more important than ever, and this trend isn't going anywhere.

Just a few years ago, a number of experts predicted that mobile web apps would become the go-to functionality on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. However, recent research shows that mobile HTML5-based websites haven't taken off the way these individuals predicted, and that native applications are still king.

Mobile apps reign supreme
Guardian contributor Charles Arthur recently noted that while there were predictions that users would shift away from mobile-native apps toward Web applications accessible via their mobile browsers, this transition has not taken place.

A study from analytics firm Flurry underscores this, finding that users now leverage mobile websites even less than before. Typical web app use decreased from 31 minutes a day on average in mid-2013 to 22 minutes in 2014.

This is bad news for mobile HTML5 web apps, particularly since today's users are spending even more time on their devices – the average individual now spends approximately two hours and 42 minutes a day on his or her smartphone, up four minutes from last year. More than two hours of that time on mobile apps.

"[O]ne thing is clear – apps have won and the mobile browser is taking a back seat," Flurry noted, according to Arthur. "Now every company in the world including Google is adjusting to that reality."

The importance of mobile app testing: Top considerations
As organizations build their own websites and mobile apps, it is critical that they keep their competition in mind. According to statistics compiled by Statista, there are currently more than 2.5 billion applications available between Google Play and Apple's App Store. With this abundance of options, application creators cannot afford to have bugs or errors in their applications: Users will simply abandon these programs for something else. This makes testing an app's performance essential.

Experts recommend the following best practices for mobile app testing:

  • What platforms will support it? An obvious first consideration, as uTest contributor Jessica Fleet notes, is the platforms on which the program will be utilized. If your app is solely for iOS devices, testers will have a smaller number of aspects to test. However, due to the fragmentation of the consumer mobile market, many developers are drafting different versions of their apps for the main platforms, making testing more complex."Ensuring that mobile apps are working on all type[s] of devices supplied by major brands and on all the platforms is challenging," Fleet wrote.
  • How complex are the user interactions? Fleet also pointed out that different device types engender a variety of ways to interact with their apps to complete tasks. For instance, Apple devices come equipped with Siri, which allows for hands-free interaction with many programs. During testing, teams should keep these gestures in mind and test to ensure that each interaction – hands-on and hands-free – work appropriately. This is just one example of the ways in which applications for multiple operating systems must cover all the bases.
  • What privacy and security concerns exist? In the current technological environment, users are much more careful about their personal data and ensuring their own privacy. For this reason, teams must pay special attention to the security measures included in the application and test to guarantee that there are no vulnerabilities related to how the application saves or transmits data. Any loopholes could provide cybercriminals with access to sensitive user information.
  • What features and functionality will the user want? Overall, when testing, teams should put themselves in the user's shoes. This can help them examine the app with a different lens and ensure that each feature and capability works as it should.

Tune in for the next part of this series, where we'll examine how to ensure your website is optimized for mobile.

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