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App Development


Manual Vs. Automated Testing for Mobile Apps

Testing is often found to be one of the biggest bottlenecks when it comes to the software development life cycle, and with the constant pressure for speed and coverage in QA, automated testing is often used to complement manual testing.

There are inherent strengths and weaknesses in manual and automated testing that cannot be overlooked. In the end, an app is something developed by humans to be used by humans. This means that automation by default will fall short compared to manual testing conducted by a human tester. However, a human will fall short when compared to the speed and breadth that automated testing has the potential achieve. When trying to get the best result, a mix of both manual and automated testing will most likely be needed.

In this article, we will go over the benefits and drawbacks of each method and how to get the best out of both worlds with the right tools.

Manual Testing for Mobile Apps

Benefits of manual testing

  • Testing the user interface accurately and quickly
  • Experiencing and testing the app as a real user to replicate the final experience
  • Identifying and reproducing reported issues easily
  • Tackling complicated issues and use cases
  • Testing small changes and projects faster and more cost effective

Drawbacks of manual testing

  • Human error affects accuracy
  • Tests have to be repeated manually each time
  • Tedious testing tasks are much harder
  • Huge coverage requires a lot of resources, like tester headcount and access to a wide array of devices

Uses for manual testing in mobile apps:

  • Exploratory Testing: As an approach, exploratory testing values the tester as an integral part of the test process. This needs a manual tester to benefit from their insight, creativity, and knowledge.
  • Ad-hoc Testing: By definition, ad-hoc is an informal testing type. It's aimed at breaking the system, therefore, it cannot be performed in a planned manner. It needs a tester to behave irregularly to try and break the system.
  • Usability Testing: The manual tester can get a feel of the final user experience. Using the app like it's designed to be used will help determine how user-friendly the app is and human input is key in this.

Automated Testing for Mobile Apps

Benefits of automated testing

  • Performing tedious and demanding tests faster
  • Testing many devices
  • Automated tests can be used repeatedly
  • Fast, efficient, and accurate results
  • Multiple automated tests can be done at the same time
  • For large mobile apps, automated tests are more cost efficient

Drawbacks of automated testing

  • No insight into user experience from a visual point of view
  • The cost to get automated tests up and running is high due to code needed
  • Wasteful in smaller-scale situations
  • Still some human error since automation test is programmed by a human and requires its own testing
  • Needs specific configurations and code for each mobile app

Automated testing in mobile apps is used for:

  • Regression Testing: One of automated testing's greatest strengths is the ability to have a test script ready to run whenever. One of the best ways to utilize automated testing is with constant small changes when you want to make sure they won't have any negative effects.
  • Performance Testing: Unlike usability testing, performance is more of a numbers game. Testing how fast, responsive, and stable an app is on different devices or under different conditions is something automated tests thrive at executing. The scale and accuracy of the results make automated tests essential for performance testing.
  • Repeated Testing: After an initial cost of coding and configuring a test script, over the long term automated testing becomes very cost efficient. Being able to repeat tests with no extra tester resource costs makes it much easier to test and get results.

Getting the Best Out of Both Worlds

Both methods of testing clearly cannot get optimal results on their own. It is worth noting that one of the biggest issues for mobile test teams can sometimes come from both methods of testing. Kotobin’s study says that QA organizations still struggle greatly with implementing test automation and that it is “cost/time-prohibitive”. Also, the lack of real devices to test on is a huge issue when it comes to manual testers. For smaller-scale apps, manual testing is more cost efficient and is the best choice, generally. And while automated testing has a lot of benefits and covers a lot of testing ground, it still cannot compensate for human insight. Knowing when to use each is the true test of a talented mobile team and also when to use both at the same time.

Using the Right Tools

Regardless of which method of testing is being used, having the right tools is key to getting the best results. Instabug is the comprehensive solution to collect insights about your app across its entire lifecycle. Empower your mobile team to test and release with confidence through comprehensive bug and crash reports and real-time user feedback.

Instabug will help you detect issues while testing, while also providing you with all the data you need to reproduce and fix issues faster. In production, monitor your app’s health and track issues as they happen so you can act quickly and keep negative reviews to a minimum.

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