Tools of the Mobile QA Trade

tools for qa trade header

In our last blog post, we provided an overview of the mobile QA process. This week’s article dives a little deeper into the QA engineer’s toolbox to take a look at what software supports their work when testing a mobile app or website. It might be an emulator or even mirroring software to help them record a mobile app in action on an iOS or Android device.

Let’s take a closer look at some stand alone emulators and other applications used by QA teams involved in mobile testing.

Mirroring Software helps when Testing Mobile Devices

Even considering the overall convenience of mobile device emulators, most QA professionals prefer to test with an actual piece of hardware. It is truly the best way to properly benchmark an app or website’s performance on a mobile footprint. Desktop computers are too powerful to properly simulate the speed in which an app runs on a smartphone or a tablet.

QA teams use mirroring software, like Reflector on the iOS platform and Mobizen for Android, for two major reasons. Mirroring allows the tester to view the app in action on a larger screen giving them a better view of the user interface. They are also able to make a recording of the interaction with the app or website being tested.

Being able to record an app’s user interface in action definitely helps when logging bugs and other issues with the software’s performance. Having a visual recording of an app also allows software engineers to more easily replicate any issues discovered by the QA team.

Stand Alone Mobile Emulators

While both major mobile app development environments — Apple’s Xcode and Google’s Android SDK — contain built-in emulators, some QA teams prefer to use stand alone emulation software to perform their mobile testing. In the Android world, some device manufacturers, most notably Samsung, offer their own emulation software, providing benefits when testing user interfaces for a specific device. The company even has a web-based emulator for the Galaxy Tab.

A variety of Android emulators are actually aimed at end-users, allowing them to run games and other Android apps on their Windows computers. QA teams are also able to take advantage of these emulators in a pinch. BlueStacks and GenyMotion are two of the more popular examples of stand-alone Android emulators.

In addition to the iOS and Android platforms, emulators exist for some of the less popular mobile platforms, including BlackBerry, Java Micro Edition, and Windows 10 Mobile. Redmond also provides an integrated mobile emulator as part of the Visual Studio IDE, in the same manner as Apple and Google.

The wearable market is still in nascent stage, but emulators for the Apple Watch and Android Wear help QA engineers test apps targeted at these platforms. Expect more examples in this arena as wearables see wider acceptance from consumers. When it comes to most mobile testing, however, smartphones and tablets remain the focus for app and website development.

Stay tuned to the Betica blog for upcoming articles as we continue to explore the wide world of QA!