Automated testing vs manual for iPhone apps

iPhone app testing: automated vs manual
Photo: FirmBee, Pixabay

You have worked hard and put in your best efforts in developing your iPhone app, but its success totally depends on the user experience it will offer. This user experience needs to be tested before the actual launch of the app. The quality of your iPhone app is the deciding factor that determines user retention and engagement. You can also update your iPhone apps easily and fast with the release of new versions of iOS if you have your testing methods set in place. Thus, it is very important to hire an iPhone application developer that tests your iPhone app before setting it out for the launch.

iOS app development
iOS apps are easy to update. Photo: Jeshootscom, Pixabay

What is automated testing?

Automated testing, as the name indicates, is based on a set of pre-scripted tests that are run automatically. The purpose is to compare the expected and actual results, as in any other form of testing, to determine the performance of the application. After implementing changes, automated testing can be used to analyse the performance by executing repetitive tasks and regression tests.

Automated tests are an important part of test-driven development (TDD) characterized by writing test cases for each unit (unit tests) before writing the actual code. These unit tests are run after the code is written, and based on the outputs of these tests, there may need to refactor the code or add and execute new tests. The TDD approach helps us in integrating testing into each unit and builds quality applications rapidly.

Some of the quality assurance (QA) tests that can be automated include the unit testing (discrete parts or units of the app are tested), functional testing (the functional aspects of the app such as compliance, accuracy, suitability, inter-operability and security are tested), regression testing (application performance is tested after implementing changes or integrating with other software), graphical user interface (GUI) testing (app interface is tested to check if the GUI meets all requirements).

Why is automated testing needed?

  • Less manpower is consumed: By using scripts and tools to carry out the tests automatically much less manpower is needed for testing.
  • Time is saved: Time-consuming tasks can be handled using regression tests. New bugs can be identified effortlessly, and other repetitive tasks can be completed in much less time using automated tests.
  • Risk of human error eliminated: The code is made more reliable with automated tests as the tools and scripts used are highly reliable and efficient.
  • Advanced GUI testing: The behaviour of the app GUI in different platforms (such as different operating systems or different web browsers) can be detected and recorded using the automated GUI tests. Regression errors can also be effectively detected using automated GUI testing.
  • Testing load and performance: In order to test the capacity and performance, there is no known manual alternative till now. Automated tests can, however, simulate many simultaneous users to test it.

What is manual testing?

Manual testing, as is clear from the word, is performed by QA specialists to ensure the proper working of applications using the conditions written in test cases. Specific functionalities cannot be tested automatically and thus manual testing is significant. In fact, it is ideal to check your iPhone app manually before performing any automated tests as it is a practical and time-tested way for catching all basic and new flaws that may turn up. As 100% automation of the testing process is impossible, manual testing is needed despite automation. Moreover, manual testing is an effective quality check for the iPhone apps.

Most of the tests that focus on usability and interface should be performed manually. Some of the tests that are difficult or impossible to automate and need manual testing include ad hoc testing (executed randomly to test functionality without any written test cases and preparation), exploratory testing (performed by designing test cases based on personal experience after having the full picture of the feature of the product), user interface testing (tests and validates the design, properties, and states of interface elements to ensure that they match elements in the final layout).

What to choose when?

While automated testing has no match in speed and accuracy, it can’t catch everything, and manual testing is practical and time-tested in such cases. So, you need to decide what to a testing method to choose and when to choose it. Here is an outline for the same.

Automated testing is preferred when:

After an iPhone app is manually tested and the user feedbacks implemented to create the final version, code test cases are prepared for regression (needed when new versions of platforms are released, development tools and libraries are updated, and after a bug is fixed) and cross-platform testing (needed with different varieties of platforms). As Apple is speedily moving its user base to new releases, any delays in updating the apps can cause great loss.

Manual testing is preferred when:

Manual testing is performed during the development phases of an iPhone app. When new functionalities are being added to the iPhone app or single function is added, manual testing is the preferred choice. For early and quick validation of the code and hardware features, manual testing is the best option. The icon, appearance, externals, texts, data and other content, object placements and proportions, UI consistency, design standards, and other aesthetic aspects are best when tested manually. Moreover, manual testing is an economic and better option for short-term projects. All non-automatable cases such as hardware-related tests (such as for screens, touchpads, sensors, etc.) are tested manually as writing scripts for testing them with automated tests is not possible.

To conclude

Developing and testing iPhone mobile apps is a balancing act where deployment and planning need to go hand in hand. Though iPhone app development times may increase for app developers with manual testing, comprehensive functional and regression tests used for automated testing can decrease this time considerably. Considering the budget and functionalities needed, either a hybrid or individual approach should be used for testing.