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January 5, 2016

The mobile phone is no longer a device for just voice calls. Customers are using it for texting, tweeting, travelling, transactions and even business data transfer. These new use cases have compelled businesses to re-imagine and re-position their product, customer and service strategies. With mobility becoming a must-have product feature, businesses worldwide are on a mobile-app development spree. In the race to release apps, most businesses are focused on porting their desktop and web apps on to the mobile platform. This is a myopic view, which may not always work in their favor. For instance, if customers encounter an unresponsive, untidy version of a full-screen desktop design on their mobile screens, they wont scroll, re-size or navigate. They will simply move away to a more responsive site that fits and displays well on their smart device. Mobility clearly, is much beyond mere replication of desktop to mobile. Its about enabling rich, intuitive and smart customer experiences, while ensuring adequate security and privacy.

This reality clearly presents an added responsibility for quality assurance (QA) protecting mobile users from the risks of compromised security, credit card fraud, identity threat, and negligent use. Assuring devices is not an isolated process simply because mobile devices arent isolated either they are connected not just to each other, but also to business networks containing secure and confidential data. With smart devices and the IoT becoming not just a reality, but a way of life for consumers, the data network landscape is about communication of everything with anything. This inter-connect requires an inter-app testing strategy for smart devices and mobile applications.

Given the need for intuitive, smart interfaces, and the limited screen size, mobile app development is more challenging than the traditional web and desktop software lifecycle. Smaller screen sizes necessitate strong and robust usability processes. But thats not all. Businesses also deliver applications through diverse technologies and platforms. Device and operating system variations also need to be considered. Mobile payments and ad wallet transactions require adequate encryption and security. Plus, mobile applications also open up vulnerabilities such as app attacks, compromised data security, and user privacy violations. The growing numbers on the Android and iOS app repositories are also resulting in exponential increase in Malwares, Trojans and Adware for mobile. Bluetooth hacking needs no introduction. And finally, theres also the new breed of Charge-ware vulnerabilities to be dealt with apps that result in billing for content consumption, without informed user consent.

An effective inter-app mobile testing strategy comprises functionality, security, compatibility, usability and performance tests and sometimes even monkey test a kind of stress test that loads the app with random selections and clicks. Functionality tests validate the app for functional accuracy, security tests fix vulnerabilities for data leaks, unauthorized access and malicious attacks, compatibility tests ensure harmonious interaction between requisite apps with diverse underlying technologies, stress tests make the app robust, while usability addresses the most important aspect of customer delight. From a technical perspective, inter-app testing is about analyzing linked functionalities of two or more apps that are accessible from a single app, without incurring losses in app or device performance and security, through services called intents, binders, and bundles. These aspects make up the right components of a mobile assurance strategy for secure and delightful mobile experiences. For more insights on mobile inter-app testing, read our white paper titled Mobile inter-app testing: Securing your app experience.

With an energized testing workforce and the right set of competencies, a lean inter-app mobile testing strategy encompasses a broad spectrum, which adequately covers functional, technical and security aspects, and ensures faster, secure and robust app roll-outs. As handheld devices and apps become more and more intricately woven into user lifestyles, inter-app testing is becoming an integral part of the testing lifecycle. To guarantee a watertight testing mechanism, inter-app testers need to possess comprehensive knowledge of mobile platforms, app testing methodologies, communication concepts and relevant tools. While licenses for the tools can be procured, provisioning the right-fit test infrastructure and environment, with all combinations of devices and operating systems, could pose budgetary and management challenges. Virtualization technology could enable an on-demand mobile testing environment, and address these challenges. We will talk about it at length in a subsequent post.

Sudhakara Raju Nibhanupudi, a consultant, evaluates mobile automation tools in the Mobility Assurance CoE, TCS. He has over eight years of experience in console and mobile gaming and automation, including functional and compliance testing (PlayStation, XBox and Nintendo) and mobile games. He is also an avid researcher on the latest mobile technologies and trends.


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