Emulators and Mobile Devices - Which Option is Better for App Testing?
App testing represents the editorial stage in the development of an app. Just as a manuscript is perfected by an editor, the app testing phase is known to iron out every little bug and issue an app is facing.
Above all, it gives everyone involved in the app development process a chance to finally see how an app looks and works.
Why is App Testing so Important Now?
In 2019, over 200B apps were downloaded. What was the average retention rate of apps in the same year?
These numbers paint a telling story. People are downloading more mobile apps than ever before on their devices. They are open to discovering new apps and experiencing something unique. However, a large proportion of apps are failing to live up to user expectations.
The reasons for this gap between app developers and users arises due to a number of reasons. What can app developers do to build apps that actually manage to have a high user retention rate?
App testing is a simple solution to this quandary. During this phase, app developers can thoroughly optimize an app and meet user expectations to some degree.
The process of app testing itself has evolved over the years. Developers today can use both emulators and mobile devices to test their app. In both situations, the aim is to weed out every little issue, from design to performance and operational bugs.
There is a difference in opinion when it comes to using either of these two options to test an app. Even in a simple project like going from WooCommerce to app, there is a debate to be had on which option is better.
In the forthcoming sections, we will study and draw a contrast between emulators and mobile devices.
App Testing on Mobile Devices
There are both benefits and drawbacks in testing an app on mobile devices.
At the end of the day, users will download the app on their devices. If developers and designers don’t have a grip on how the app performs on a mobile device, they are missing out on a lot. There are many elements and metrics of app performance that can only be tested on mobile devices.
For example, let’s say you have a gaming app. The first thing you probably want to know is whether users are comfortable gaming on the mobile app. The best way to do this is test the app on a real mobile device.
There are endless cases where app testing on mobile devices is a much better option. What if the target audience of an app is likely to use it using mobile internet? The app testing phase must involve a part where the app is tested on a cellular network and not Wi-Fi. Thus, the need for using a mobile device for testing becomes apparent here.
There are drawbacks to using mobile devices for app testing as well. The most crucial one is the sheer variety of mobile devices. Let’s say you want to use a mobile device for testing. The challenge is identifying the right device to effectively test the app. Since app users could be using any one of the many possible mobile devices, choosing one is always a problem.
The cost of procuring such a mobile device is also a concern. Companies working on a small budget for app development may not want to spend a lot of money buying a new device simply for the purpose of app testing.
App Testing on Emulators
Many drawbacks of testing apps on mobile devices become non-existent with emulators.
App emulators are basically desktop applications that show developers exactly how an app will work on a mobile device. As the name suggests, they emulate the experience of a mobile device. Like mobile devices, there are both advantages and disadvantages to testing an app on an emulator.
The advantages are rather obvious. Emulators only generally need the link of an app to replicate its mobile experience. This helps developers at expediting the testing process many times over.
These days, emulators can even mimic the experience of specific mobile devices. This is especially helpful in case developers want to check the performance of an app on a particular device model.
The drawbacks to using an emulator for app testing are also very clear and pointed. Emulators can only mimic the performance of an app on a mobile device. They are not 100% accurate and this can be a concern depending on the type of app you are developing.
Mobile Devices vs Emulators
Let’s look at the table below to recap the points made in the previous section.
Present the exact experience of using an app
Mimic the experience of using an app
Inherent need to procure a device to test the app
Generally, developers only need the app URL to test the app
Provide a complete outlook on performance related metrics
Do not provide a 100% accurate perspective on various performance metrics
Give an accurate take on the basic functions of the app, but require the presence of one or more device models for testing
Provide an accurate take on the basic functionality of an app for a number of mobile devices
Generally require a large app development budget
Can work on a small budget
The table shows the advantages and drawbacks of using both emulators and mobile devices.
Which one should you choose?
What is the solution? Should you choose emulators or do mobile devices present a better avenue for testing apps?
There is no single solution to a problem such as this one. App developers have to look at their particular app project and figure out which path offers the best solution.
In some cases, testing an app on a mobile device is very important. For apps that need to perform on cellular networks or use battery power a lot, mobile device testing is very important.
For a more simple project such as going from WooCommerce to app, emulators are often enough.
However, the best solution is to test an app on both an emulator and a range of mobile devices.
AppMySite, a mobile app builder for iOS and Android, offers users the option to test an app on both an emulator and a mobile device.
Thus, AppMySite offers both options for app testing and helps developers cover all bases.
App testing is a very essential part of developing an app. Even on a project like converting a website running on WooCommerce to app, app testing can help fish out important issues.
This piece puts the spotlight on the different ways apps are tested, namely emulators and mobile devices. Both options have benefits and pitfalls of their own. We covered every perspective an app developer must consider while mulling over these two options.