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Difference between Mobile and Web App testing

In this fast-paced technological world, organizations have to maximize the visibility of their business to succeed. Since every business’s target audience is on the web and mobile devices, organizations must provide great software platforms for their consumers to interact on the web and mobile. A well-planned mobile and web application testing process is required to create flawless software apps. Businesses are attempting to employ mobile application testing to gain and retain their user base as customers’ mindsets change. Mobile and web application testing approaches, on the other hand, are different. Before we get into the differences between mobile and web application testing, let’s look at the difference between web and mobile apps.

Web applications are software applications that can be accessed through a web browser such as Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, UC Browser, MS Edge, and others. Most times they are stored on a web server. The developers use HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other programming languages to create web apps. Optimized Web applications can be used on various devices with active internet connections, including PCs, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets.

Mobile applications are tailored and created specifically for mobile devices. The most prevalent types of mobile applications are as follows:

  • Mobile Web Applications: These are standard web applications that have been tailored to work on mobile devices and can be accessed through mobile browsers. These apps may resemble mobile apps, but they differ significantly from typical mobile applications.
  • Native Mobile Apps: These are designed exclusively for operating systems. These mobile apps are available for download from their respective app stores (Google Play store, App Store, Microsoft Store, etc). Developers use platform-specific programming languages to create them. The iOS apps are developed in Objective-C and Android apps in Java. These apps are costly and require additional effort from developers since they must maintain two independent code bases for Android and iOS.
  • Hybrid Applications: These are native applications that have features of both native and web apps and are produced in a native environment utilizing JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Hybrid apps are available for download from OS-specific app stores and include mobile functionality such as GPS and camera. When compared to native apps, these are easier to develop and have a unified code base for both Android and iOS, unlike native apps which have distinct codebases for each platform.

The above mentioned difference between mobile and web applications demonstrate how they differ in terms of their creation and how users interact with them via different gestures like scrolling, pinching to zoom in and out, voice input features, and so on. As a result, the approaches for performing mobile and web application testing become naturally different. Although the tools used to test mobile and web applications differ,  key testing methodologies such as functional, performance, usability, compatibility, and localization testing, are common for both.

Mobile application vs Web application testing

In a nutshell, the basic difference between mobile and web app testing looks something like this:

1. Distinguishing between web and mobile apps:

  • The most important distinction between mobile and web app testing is that the former tests software applications for mobile devices, while the latter tests web-hosted software applications for functionality, compatibility, and usability.
  • Mobile apps can run on a wider range of devices than web apps, such as smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, lock systems, fitness trackers, and tablets. As a result, testing mobile apps becomes more arduous than testing web apps on mobile devices due to their numerous functionalities. 
  • Web apps are meant for stationary laptops and desktops with the classical features of the WiFi router and mouse cursor that are absent in the case of mobile apps that continuously perform on-the-go computing operations.
  • How people utilize applications has changed dramatically in recent years. People who worked on online apps used to log in and out before shutting down their laptops/desktops, but now they can stay logged into their mobile apps without shutting down their devices.
  • Mobile apps have a wider user base than web apps, thus testing both is done at a different level, taking into account factors such as continual network availability, notification management, app sync across platforms, and so on.
  • Web apps are more business-to-business, whereas mobile apps are more customer-centric. As a result, mobile app testing focuses on customer interaction and app experience.

2. Technical Challenges: Web and mobile app development is different in terms of usage and dealing with different device types. Here are a few areas based on which web and mobile testing are differentiated:

  • RAM and Storage Capacity Testing: Mobile apps typically have RAM of up to 2GB and storage of up to 16GB SSDs. These limitations restrict the testing activities when testing a mobile app. When a smart phone app takes up a lot of storage space, most users uninstall it. According to AppsFlyer, the number of uninstalled mobile apps increased by 70% in 2021 over 2020. Frequent app upgrades consume thestorage space on the smartphone and cause it to slow down. Even the mobile app’s advertisement services slow down the mobile browser. A web app is also testedfor memory consumption. However, most stationary devices such as laptopsand desktop computers, have more memory space than mobile devices.
  • Internet Connectivity Testing: Internet connectivity is a critical aspect for a smooth functioning of any web or mobile app. Few apps have offline functionalities, but a tester must learn to test how effectively they work without internet or at slow internet speeds. The QA teams test the web and mobile apps’ overall functionality and behavior at various data speeds and while moving between stable and unreliable networks.
  • Testing User Interaction Mediums: 

    Most of the web apps are stable with standard keyboard and mouse inputs for playing any game or browsing social media. With rising demand mobile apps, on the other hand, present testing challenges due to the availability of many input features such as touch, tap, swipes, voice, etc. Touch inputs like swiping, pulling, pinching, and voice assistants like Siri, and Google Now, are a few examples of input methods. With developments in technology, some mobile phones now include features, such as hand-wave motions which add to the complexity of testing a mobile app. If these features are not tested, the mobile app would lose credibility and users.

  • Screen Size Testing:

    Mobile apps come with different screen sizes and resolutions. Testers ensure that the app is optimized enough to work on different devices without any glitches. For example, optimizing app functioning while switching between the portrait and landscape mode. These features do not work on laptops and computers, so there is no need to test web apps as they do not rotate. They instead resize themselves depending upon browser window size, so they test web apps only for the size of the window screen.
  • Compatibility Testing:Testers test the Web apps for their compatibility on different browser-OS-device combinations. Testing mobile applications is complex because testers need to consider various mobile app specifications and check if they all are compatible with a wide range of mobile devices.
  • Application Types:The web applications for stationary devices are developed using HTML, CSS, JavaScript. On the other hand, mobile applications are created using Objective-C, native Java, or hybrid languages, and they are not that simple. It becomes crucial to develop a roadmap for conducting all kinds of complex testing.

Difference Table – Web application vs Mobile application testing

Mobile App TestingWeb App Testing
Software programs run on mobile devices meant to test the mobile applicationsSoftware programs that are used on computer to test web applications
Users for Mobile applications are broader than those of web appsWeb applications have shorter range of users
Users can download any mobile application from the app store.Web applications are usually upgraded and updated on the website itself.
It is difficult to design responsive design for small mobile devicesThe responsive design for large screen devices is easy to code.
Mobile devices come with limited storage capacity when it comes to downloading too many apps and multimedia. So it becomes difficult to test mobile apps sometimes.Desktops come with large storage capacity and testing web apps is a lot easier.
Some mobile apps work offline without requiring the internet. However, internet speed and quality matters for online mobile apps. So testers check mobile app behavior in different internet connectivity conditions.Web apps require a good internet connection to function.
Mobile testing is difficult because there are too many mobile devices with different mobile app features and functionalitiesWeb applications are easier to test because of desktop specific functionalities.
In this testing type, testers check battery performance of different mobile devices for using any mobile app. Whether the app drains the battery or works well in low battery conditions.Web apps are free from battery life limitation.
Factors like mobile screen sizes, storage capacity, OEM’s are considered in mobile app testing.Most times web app testing requires only compatibility across screen sizes and browsers.
Testers test the user interactions like touch, tap, swipes, voice, hand and eye gestures, etc.Testing teams mostly deal with user interactions based on text input, mouse selections and voice in web testing.
Testers perform usability, performance, load testing for various mobile appsWeb apps are tested mainly for cross browser compatibility
Whether the app is native or hybrid, testers test features like GPS, Bluetooth, etc. on the device.web app testing involves usability testing for UX/UI of the web app.

Most times, web and mobile apps are related so the testers use some common testing techniques for testing both of them. This requires a robust test management platform for framing a common testing strategy for both web and mobile applications involving common workflows, resources and scenarios related to web and mobile app testing in common.

Conclusion

As previously stated, to keep a competitive edge in the market, it is critical to work on both web and mobile applications in this continuously expanding technological environment. For creating a well-functioning app with a greatuser experience, businesses must guarantee that both mobile and web application testing are given equal weightage. The choice between a Web application and a mobile application is entirely dependent on the business needs, but having both offers you the added assurance of reaching a larger audience.

Published on Java Code Geeks with permission by Priyanka Charak, partner at our JCG program. See the original article here: Difference between Mobile and Web App testing

Opinions expressed by Java Code Geeks contributors are their own.

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