Have you noticed that your app often crashes or users uninstall it soon after the initial download? With high probability, the reason is the performance of your application in various networks and under different loads. To be sure about that, check it under critical conditions by testing your app’s performance.
Mobile app testing is often even more challenging and tedious than that of PC software. A large variety of devices, increased mobility of users, the use of device-specific features — all of this can seem confusing. In this post, you’ll find out more about what it means to performance test mobile apps, as well as get some tips and hacks that help do it.
A well-thought performance testing plan comes very handy when deciding on which checks to include in a list designed specifically for your application’s case. Normally, a performance testing plan consists of the following stages.
Align test objectives with business requirements.
When defining success criteria for your case make sure they correspond to key business functions. For example, for e-commerce enterprises that are mainly interested in lead generation the cart feature, registration and contact forms will be critical to test.
Identify your KPIs.
By setting benchmarks for testing, you’ll be able to tell if the execution was a success or a failure. For mobile app testing, the following KPIs are worth consideration: Error rate; Maximum response time; Average response time; Peak number of requests; Average throughput and the peak number of concurrent active users per device and OS.
Don’t try to test all the systems at once. Instead, outline the scenarios that are the most important for your app’s reliable performance. The list may include such examples as logging in or out, adding items to the cart, or paying the order — whatever your business goals imply. You’ll be able to move deeper and test less significant scenarios after you have dealt with the crucial ones.
Simulate a real-life testing environment.
If you’re using an emulator, make sure that the testing environment is as close to production as possible. But keep in mind that even the best emulators are not a magic pill: to assess the performance of app features which work with a camera, GPS, or other device-specific functions, it’s better to use real hardware.
Align the testing approach with the overall development methodology.
Testing should fit into a company’s general development framework. One of the most popular approaches, Agile, is cyclic and collaborative, while another one, Waterfall, is sequential and more linear. Whichever is used in your company, try to stick to it: this way, the entire development team will be on the same page regarding the project, which speeds up the decision-making process.
Keep the latency and the bandwidth of a carrier network in mind while testing.
Since mobile devices are connected to the internet through third-party carriers, the latency and bandwidth of the networks can vary. It’s important to find out if the causes of the delay are on the side of the network, or on the side of the server, as the remedies for these two cases are completely different.
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Testing environment is like a lab for testing the influence of different elements on the end-user experience so it depends on its setup how effective your tests will be. To set up an environment for a mobile app performance testing you should consider the following:
Isolate the environment.
During the tests, it’s important to know the exact number of simultaneous users and what operations they perform. Another team using the same environment for parallel tests jeopardize test results and slow the process. Isolating the environment guarantees test accuracy and keeps the experiment precise.
Use test data generators.
Pay attention to data writing, reading, and deletion, as these actions are known to halt the app’s performance to the fullest extent. You can use data generation tools, such as Datprof or EMS Data Generator to simulate real world data without copying sensitive data from the production environment.
Isolate the network.
For most networks, supporting multiple concurrent activities without affecting the performance of the app is impossible. So this step is not an ultimate must, but we highly recommend it.
Remove proxy servers from the network path.
A proxy between the client and the web server can put a strain on the performance of the app. The problem can be solved by conducting tests in a secluded environment.
There are two approaches testers use to assess the performance of mobile apps. The first one is to test the server-side performance of the product. This way, the development team is capable of checking the server logic and the readiness of the app. The second one is to assess the performance of the app on a device (either physical or emulated). This way, a tester will be able to see the end product from a user’s point of view.
The most popular tools for server-side performance testing are JMeter, Gatling, and PFLB Platform while client/device-side performance testing can be carried out with Sauce Labs, Appium Studio and Robotium to name a few.
Your choice will be up to you only, though: different tools have different features, so if you need to check, for instance, how Touch ID works in your app, your choice will be narrowed down to those tools that have this feature. When making your choice, pay attention to the list of supported protocols, OS versions, browsers, and the tool’s ability to run your own pre-existing tests.
Mobile app performance testing is quite complex. There are dozens of activities you may need to ensure the product works as required, for example:
If you have run your tests according to the recommendations above, most probably everything should turn out well. However, mobile applications performance testing is, as you may have noticed, a quite complicated process. It includes multiple stages, each of which heavily depends on your product, your goals, and many other internal and external factors.
That is why mobile app performance testing is more efficient when handled by a team of certified professionals who work to save your time and money. At PFLB, in-house engineers are experts on mobile applications in finance, retail, insurance, hospitality, and many other industries. Reach out, and we will do our best to help!
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