Android Testing – Part 1

This is the first part of 3 series of posts

Android Testing

Android app testing is complicated by the fact that it has without debate the most complex array of handsets, versions and carriers of any mobile platform available. And unlike more closed systems,each Android device presents its own set of challenges. But being challenging is no excuse for limited or poor testing.

Despite encompassing a large number of devices,there are a few things that can and should be tested across the field.

It’s especially important to test Android applications on as many devices as possible, because something that works perfectly on one device might cause a bug
on another. End users will use a variety of phones, so the apps need to work consistently on a variety of phones.

To help achieve that cross device consistency, I would be detailing couple of focus areas that are essential to Android success.

This post and the next couple of them will highlight tips for testing within the Android Matrix, specific issues to test for and, finally, how to get testing done.

1.Handsets and Network Carriers

The most obvious part of the Android matrix is the sheer number of devices sporting the operating system. Complicating this ever growing figure is the number of handset manufacturers and carriers that participate in the Android universe.

According to the official Android website, Android devices are available in 25 countries. Worldwide, 23 manufacturers produce Android phones and 63 carriers support them on their networks. Globally, there are roughly 250 officially recognized Android handsets currently on the market (not taking into account platform versions or custom skins). Narrowing the scope to the United States only and there are still around 100 different devices produced by 15 manufacturers and supported by seven carriers. Nearly 20 of these devices include a physical keyboard, while the rest are touchscreen. And a special mention of the Samsung Galaxy Note, which not only has a unique screen size, but also has a stylus (unlike any other Android device). Because each device has its own specs encompassing physical design and custom UI attributes testing coverage should include as many devices as possible.

Note that Android apps can be accessed on even more devices, including on the cheaper “low end” phones that are beginning to appear in many of the emerging markets. These phones can only support non-data-intensive apps and require a completely separate round of testing. Many testing initiatives have not begun addressing this new category of phone, but it will be prudent to keep an eye on the trend.