Robot Framework for Mobile Test Automation
Robot Framework is a test automation framework for acceptance test-driven development and...
Mobile device usage continues to grow exponentially. There are currently more than 3 billion mobile devices and tablets used worldwide today. So, it is no surprise that businesses are making sure they have a foothold in this ever-expanding market by creating mobile applications to be used on hand-held devices: eCommerce, banking & finance, healthcare, gaming, entertainment - all are making the move to include mobile to engage with the customer; customers who expect a seamless, bug-free experience. This brings a call to action to mobile application testing, and for the most part, the playbook has been written given web-based testing experience.
However, although basic testing strategies are largely the same, the tools needed for mobile application testing can wildly differ from that of the web, including the need for devices to test on. It is every tester's goal to execute fast, reliable, high-quality, and cost-efficient testing, so choosing the right devices, virtual or physical, can have a huge impact on delivering just that. Today, two solutions are offered: emulators/simulators and real devices. Let’s take a moment to explore what emulators/simulators actually are, the pros and cons of each solution, and which one to use when.
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An emulator is a software program that imitates the hardware and/or software of a target device on your computer. Emulator programs behave in the same manner as a real device, as if the device was plugged right into the computer but set in an all-virtual environment. By creating a virtual environment that mimics a target device’s hardware and/or software, developers and testers are able to test basic functionality of an application running on an emulator. For example, Android offers an Android Emulator that is available to install, configure, and use from Android Studio SDK manager to test mobile applications.
A simulator is a program that creates a virtual environment that mimics the internal behavior and configurations of an application on a target device’s operating system. A key difference between emulators and simulators is that simulators do not mimic the hardware of a target device. Instead, a simulator spins up a virtual environment of a target device’s operating system to run applications within the virtual operating system to build and test against. Like emulators, this virtual space can be used by developers and testers to test basic functionality of an application, though simulators lack the hardware functionality testing that emulators offer. An example of a simulator includes Apple’s Apple Simulator that is offered as part of Xcode tools and promotes developers and testers to test various iOS applications on simulated iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Apple TV iOS environments.
There are many pros to using emulators/simulators. They are best used in the early stages of the SDLC to build and test applications as they are being developed. However, emulators/simulators come with quite a handful of drawbacks and limitations. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of emulators/simulators:
Of course, as said before, nothing beats the real deal like real devices. Testers are able to attain the truest, most accurate testing when executed on real devices, along with collecting real-time data to further be analyzed for optimization. However, real devices can be hard to come by and have their own share of drawbacks. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of real devices:
It is clear that In the most ideal world, real devices would be in abundance and readily available to be used for all stages of testing at no cost. But, unfortunately, that is not the world we live in today. So, that begs the question 'which one to use?'. Do I put forth more money for real devices and get all my testing done on said devices? Or do I save my money and test on emulators/simulators and hope for the best when I push to production? The answer is: the two are not mutually exclusive and a combination of both is recommended. The true value of emulators/simulators is that they are a placeholder for testing needs until the need has exceeded what emulators/simulators offer. From there, it is ideal to procure real devices, in some way, to complete the continuous testing cycle. From very early stages of development and far-left testing, emulators/simulators will allow you to complete your testing at minimal cost to you. As we shift right, through the testing cycle, there is no replacement for the real deal that are real devices, even at a price; because the money put forth for real devices will save you money in the long run as you release cleaner, more efficient, and enjoyable mobile applications.
Looking to understand which mobile solution to use?