A Mobile Test Lab Made for You

Rich Rogers, Principal Consultant

A Mobile Test Lab Made for You

Facebook recently opened up its mobile device testing lab to a small group of reporters. Not surprisingly, the company has invested heavily in this facility. Given the high profile nature of Facebook’s applications (Facebook mobile app, Messenger and Instagram) and given their incredibly large customer base (an average of 1.03 billion mobile daily active users of the Facebook app as of June 2016), testing on mobile devices has to be taken seriously.

Building an operation of this scale is a major undertaking with costs and maintenance complexity to match; yet testing on different devices is an important consideration for any organisation that provides mobile apps, mobile websites or responsive websites to their customers.

Finding the right balance between on-site physical and hosted devices is important. Whilst a subscription service to hosted devices or emulators can offer a breadth of device/OS combinations at a significantly lower cost, there can be drawbacks in terms of performance. Some problems may be more apparent when using a physical device and in some cases a physical device may be essential; for example, when testing features dependent on Near Field Communication.

Inevitably, you will need to decide which devices/OS you intend to test with. Some of the key factors to consider here are:

  • What mobile devices do your customers use?
  • Which devices are most commonly used in your country or territory?
  • Are you aware of any new devices/OS that will be released in the coming months?

Understanding the idiosyncrasies of mobile testing will also help when establishing your capability. Maintaining a fleet of devices with the right OS versions and applications and keeping these secure and powered up is just the start. You will also need to consider other factors specific to mobile testing; for example, how your product affects data and battery consumption, or testing of location services and gestures, etc. There are also tools designed to help specifically with mobile device testing which are  worth exploring (for example, GhostLab).

Customised Mobile Test Lab

Recently, we designed and built a mobile testing capability for one of our clients. We worked closely with them to understand why they required a mobile testing solution, how we could help them and finally, what would be the best solution for their unique circumstances.

AccessHQ Mobile Test Lab

Image: A customised mobile testing lab containing a combination of Android and iOS mobile devices.

The mobile testing lab contained a blend of physical devices and hosted devices provided through a subscription service. The physical test lab consisted of 16 devices, 11 Android and 5 iOS across 4 tablets and 12 smartphones (12 of these devices are displayed in the image above). The devices were mounted on responsive stands allowing for easy movement when changing orientation. USB hubs and screen protects/cases (for each device) were also included as part of the package. 

In addition to compatibility testing, we also maintained the devices for our client and provided recommendations on improvements. As part of this service, we also provided the facility for synchronous inspection across a number of devices. 

If you provide a mobile application or website for your customers, have you considered how you will test on the latest devices/OS that they use? We can help you create a mobile test lab tailored to your specific requirements. For more information, visit our compatibility testing page.