Why Test Automation for Mobile and Web Apps is Different

Given the stiff competition, bringing high-quality products to market quickly is no longer an option but a prerequisite for success. One way in which organizations can ensure both quality and timeliness of releases is through test automation.

With test automation, teams can speed up their testing efforts, broaden test coverage, and ensure faster releases. However, not all test automation is the same. What works for one type of product or application may not for another. And what about apps that exist as mobile apps as well as web apps?

Before embarking down the road to test automation, let’s understand the difference between mobile and web app test automation.

Although on the surface, both might seem similar, the truth is, test automation for mobile and web apps are not the same.

For starters, just consider the fact that mobile apps need to be tested across a massive array of device capabilities and features, OSes, configurations, form factors, screen sizes and more – says a lot about how different mobile and web app test automation must be!

Let’s dive into some of the major differences right away:

Screen Size

One of the biggest differences between mobile and web app test automation is the need to test mobile apps across an array of screen sizes. It’s relatively easy it is to test responsive design for desktop and laptop browsers. But with mobile devices, test automation is excruciatingly complex. Since mobile devices are much smaller, and come in various sizes and form factors, testing mobile apps for flawless performance becomes a real challenge – especially when you have to factor in different sizes from the same manufacturer and test for features like screen rotation, 3D touch, and the lie. Make sure to create test automation suites and test apps valid for several device types – so you can get immediate feedback on how your apps look and feel on different screen sizes.


When it comes to mobile and web app test automation, screen size is not the only challenge testers face. They must also keep in mind the device storage and processing power limitations of today’s mobile devices. Despite all the advances in mobile device technology, even the most modern, high-capacity phones can go low on storage with app sprawl a reality with most users. On the other hand, in the web app world, such constraints are virtually non-existent. Desktop storage capacity is rather huge, and with cloud-based storage, the real estate challenge of testing apps on the web are minuscule. While building your test automation suite, make sure to test your app for functionality and performance across high as well as very low storage conditions.

Input Interfaces

Another major difference between mobile and web app test automation is the variation in input interfaces. Desktop and laptop inputs essentially revolve around the mouse and keyboard combination. Mobile apps, on the other hand, need to be tested around a wide variety of touch actions – including scrolling, swiping, pinching, 3D selections, and so on. Add to that the need to now test mobile apps for voice inputs, gestures and more. Make sure your automation solution is flexible enough to accommodate and test the app across different input interfaces.

Hardware and Software Configurations

When it comes to mobile and web app test automation, another major difference is the need to account for a multitude of hardware and software configurations. While a majority of today’s browsers follow the same logic, when it comes to mobile app test automation, it’s not just about testing the app across iOS, Android, Windows OS or others; it’s also about factoring in the different hardware configurations specific to device manufacturers as well as the perennial flood of software updates. Since mobile apps tend to go through far more iterations, you need to make sure your test automation framework tests your apps across every major upgrade, update, and patch.


When it comes to connectivity, a web app is of no use without an internet connection. While the same holds true for most mobile apps, native or hybrid mobile apps do offer significant offline functionality. While building test automation suites, it is important to test mobile apps for their performance – with and without connectivity. They must be checked for their functionality in airplane mode as well as situations like in remote locations without coverage. It is also important to test mobile apps for their availability, functionality, and performance when switching between unstable networks.

Achieve the Maximum ROI from Test Automation

Despite the many similarities between mobile and web apps, in the world of test automation, they are as different as chalk and cheese. From different screen sizes, OSes, storage requirements, input interfaces, hardware and software configurations, and connectivity options, the testing challenges that mobile apps must surmount are many. The task for automation engineers is to build test automation suites for mobile and web apps such that they address the different functions across different environments and different conditions. After all, it is only when apps win in the customer environment that you can really achieve a good return on your test investment.

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