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Four mobile app testing tools for enterprise developers

App testing ensures that users have a good experience with a mobile app and searches out bugs. Tools make it easy to integrate this process as part of mobile app development.

End users expect mobile apps to run efficiently and have a user-friendly interface, so it's essential for developers to test their mobile apps before deployment.

There are a lot of mobile app testing tools on the market today, so it's important for developers to review the pros and cons of each platform before making a decision.

Appium

Automated mobile app testing -- as opposed to manual testing -- can save time and money, among other benefits. Appium is an automated, open source, cross-platform, free mobile app testing tool that enables developers to reuse code between Windows, Android and iOS test platforms.

The platform uses a standard API, so developers don't need to modify code or reconfigure the app. Developers can write the tests in a variety of languages, including Python, Ruby and JavaScript, as long as the language is compatible with WebDriver, a web automation framework. However, developers need to create separate scripts for Android and iOS to test UI elements.

Like with any free tool, Appium doesn't provide support other than through online documentation. But Sauce Labs, a testing platform company that contributes to Appium and uses the platform as a server for iOS simulators and Android emulators, has experts that can help organizations use Appium.

Appium uses virtual Android emulators and iOS simulators to run automated mobile app tests in the cloud. Developers can test across multiple virtual devices at the same time to speed up the process.

However, because Appium doesn't use real devices to test mobile apps, there is no way to test sensor behavior or hardware performance with the tool.

How to choose a mobile app emulator

While some mobile application developers today choose physical device testing over using a mobile application emulator, the latter is still a viable and widely used way to see how the code is performing within the context of the app. Listen to this podcast to find out more.

Calabash

Calabash is another automated, open source mobile app testing tool. Developed by Xamarin, a company that was acquired by Microsoft in 2016, the platform can test hybrid and native apps for iOS and Android -- and it's free. Calabash's test scenarios are written in Cucumber, a scripting language that is very similar to English and easy to understand.

Like Appium, Calabash runs its tests in the cloud. Developers can choose from a variety of devices to test on based on the OS or popularity among the target market.

There are usually downsides to free mobile app testing tools, however. In Calabash's case, developers must install Ruby first and will likely receive limited online support.

Perfecto Mobile

Perfecto Mobile Inc. is a quality assurance testing tool for mobile and web that provides developers with the option to automate testing or use manual testing capabilities. The tool integrates with other mobile app testing tools and dev environments, such as Appium, Microsoft Visual Studio and Jenkins.

Organizations that plan to deploy multiple complex mobile apps across a variety of OSes and devices may consider Perfecto because the platform has a wide range of capabilities. For example, an open API allows developers to integrate their existing development tools, and ample security makes it safe for large enterprises to use.

Perfecto Mobile's pricing comes in three tiers -- Basic, Advanced and Enterprise -- and the two higher tiers offer automated testing. Organizations can choose a yearly or monthly license for Perfecto Mobile or opt for a free trial.

Ranorex

Ranorex GmbH is one of the automated mobile app testing tools that can test on physical devices as well as emulators. Using physical devices enables developers to test in a realistic environment and account for some factors that emulators won't test for, such as high traffic volume.

Ranorex can test native Android and iOS, web, or hybrid apps. It works well for inexperienced users or citizen developers, as well as advanced developers because of its ease of use. Developers can generate testing scripts with code or use Ranorex Spy -- a tool that tracks UI elements -- to create script-free tests.

Ranorex offers premium, node-locked -- which limits the license to a single computer -- or floating licensing. A premium floating license allows for multiple users, although not at the same time, and enables virtual machines and terminal server environments.

This was last published in June 2018

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