iPad App Testing – A Mobile App Tester’s Perspective

Now the relatively recent world-wide phenomenon of the mobile app has become accepted as a major factor in software development. The question has been asked by software developers and software testers alike…should these iPhone apps or iPad apps be tested any differently to the more traditional windows based or mac based application? the answer is ‘yes’ but only to a certain extent. Good software testing principles can be applied to any software regardless of the platform. So, yes…they should be testing differently but not entirely. The differences to some extent than traditional software applications are mostly obvious and some rather more obscure. Firstly an iPad app and (iPhone app for that matter) run on different hardware than a PC/MAC. Also, the method of input is entirely different due to a touch-screen. The way the iPad apps are installed is different too, via iTunes of course. From a software testers point of view, the iPad has generated a lot of discussion. Most of these discussions revolve around statements comparing the iPad to the iPhone. While there are a lot of similarities (including apps being developed for both platforms simultaneously). We are now seeing iPad specific apps being developed. These are more alike to the traditional software applications for the PC or MAC. They typically have more features and make greater use of the larger screen and are generally more complex. A typical methodology for testing an iPad app is as follows:

App Delivery/ Installation

The iPad is given to the app tester or app testing company. As this will typically be done before the app’s release, a provisioning file will be needed to accompany the app which contains the UDID’s of the app testing company’s test iPads. The app and provisioning file can simply be dropped into iTunes and loaded onto the iPad.

Exploratory Testing

Once loaded onto the iPad, a standard approach for any iPad tester is to walk-through the app’s key functionality and effectively perform an exploratory test. They should be able to use any previous insight from testing similar apps, or make use of the app’s supporting documentation to ensure a thorough test is completed.

Defects Found

Fortunately, the iPad has a great built-in feature to help iPad testers with their task, and this is the screen-shot feature. When a bug is found, the iPad tester simply holds down the power button and presses the main circle button. This activates a screen-shot capture and saves the photo on the device. This screen-shot can then be emailed to the developing company along with instructions on how to reproduce the problem. When the ‘unthinkable’ happens, i.e. a ‘crash’, the iPad saves crash log files to its internal hard drive. When the iPad is next synced to a PC/MAC, these log files can also be emailed to the developing company to aid in fixing the bug that caused the crash.

Additional Testing

There are many other types of iPad app testing that can be performed relating to networks, stability, usability, performance etc. If you are not sure exactly what testing your iPad app needs, then simply email a respectable iPad app testing company.

Test Report

Most iPad app testing companies should be able to provide you with a thorough test report. This is a key piece of documentation and will effectively be the only evidence of your app’s quality prior to release and also after release.

Final thoughts

In today’s competitive market, it is critical to ensure an iPad app hits the store being the best it can possibly be. It only takes a few negative ratings on iTunes to see an app’s download figures drop dramatically. Most negative feedback for an iPad app is for simple bugs that could have easily been found if an iPad testing company was used.