The rapid growth of mobile application development is due to several factors one of which includes the contributions of tech giants like Google and Apple. Over the years, mobile applications became vital for enterprises as the platform offered means to increase brand awareness on a much wider scale cost-effectively.

Mobile applications are ideal for small-medium scale businesses (SMBs) including start-ups. The app lets them increase brand visibility while gathering data for customer retention and decision-making. In addition, mobile applications can deliver personalized messages to customers giving them an experience that lets them know that they are indeed valued by the business.

Hybrid mobile applications bring more to the table.

To understand what a hybrid mobile application is, you need to be aware of the general category of applications the way developers see it.
 

Hybrid Mobile Applications

 
There are native applications – applications that are developed and used on a single platform. They can be downloaded from app stores, and are integrated to many variants of a single operating system.

There are web apps – applications similar to mobile applications but are developed in HTML5. They are normally mobile-optimized, i.e. they can render themselves on to varying mobile screen sizes.

Then there are hybrid applications.

Hybrid applications are a combination of native and web applications. It can be more precisely described as a web application within a native application shell. Here are a few reasons why hybrid apps are considered unique.

  • Provides cross-platform compatibility
  • Comparatively less complicated to develop
  • Cost-effective
  • Can work on multiple mobile platforms

 

Why they are Important for Businesses

 
The main approach of any business is to make sure they reach out to the maximum users in their target market. The mobile platform is just a medium for that. Hybrid apps take advantage of the features of native mobile apps and web apps to access data from other applications, and to work offline unlike web apps that require an active internet connection to function. In addition, hybrid apps can also be downloaded from app stores though the content in it relies on being rendered in a web browser.

Hence, the business will be able to sell their services or products across all major platforms. Listing a few of its benefits might make the idea behind it clearer.

  • User experience – Hybrid mobile apps can provide a consistent experience with its cross-platform compatibility trait. The users won’t notice any significant difference when switching the app from one platform to another. Because it’d mostly likely be developed to be responsive, and with a good UX design, it can deliver quality experience to the end user. This also applies to the app updates. A single update can fix issues in the app across various platforms it’s designed to function on, thus enhancing user experience in the process.
  • Offline support – A hybrid mobile app can save data offline using APIs though the data cannot be updated when the device is offline. This is still beneficial to those users who may not have an active internet connection at all times when using the app. It also helps reduce loading time of the app to a certain extent.
  • Integration with basic mobile apps – The internal programming of a hybrid mobile app allows it to sync with basic apps in the mobile devices like GPS, Camera etc. through overlay. This is a great advantage for businesses as they can provide better, more personalized services to customers.
  • Speed – Hybrid mobile apps may not be necessarily faster, but they are fast enough. The technology and framework used for developing such apps also grant them significant speed compared to native and web applications. As it supports offline data storage, the user will not have to reload the app again to access the data under poor network conditions. Unless the app extensively uses graphics and animations, the speed will not be impacted.
  • Resources – As hybrid apps use web technology, it makes utilizing the content of the app easier. Moreover, businesses won’t have to spend a lot of money to develop the app, and the resources required for the development are easily accessible. Developing a hybrid app generally doesn’t cost as much as developing a native app.

 

Conclusion

 
These are just a few of the major benefits businesses can get from hybrid mobile applications. They are in fact more advantageous than native mobile apps and web apps, are cost-effective in addition. Hybrid apps makes it easier for businesses to reach out to the end users by leveraging the best of both worlds – native and web, and provides a great experience to the end users with its versatility.

Written by: Rikhil Mohan

Testing mobile applications, unlike software testing, is not something that can be skipped. You may have read about companies skipping or slacking off on software testing when they are on a tight deadline. That can’t generally be applied to mobile technologies. Especially when mobile devices are the prevalent means of communication for not just consumers but also businesses.

Businesses have already started running through mobile applications – those simple pieces of code that influence judgments by providing impressive, immersive experience to the consumers. The applications are meant to meet customer expectations while still sticking to the business objectives, and providing them with an experience that would leave them wanting to use the apps regularly.

And mobile application testing ensures that an application possesses all that, which means there’s no room for errors. The industry standard now is such that every mobile application must pass testing before they are deployed. For that, the testers will have to overcome a lot of challenges.
 

Mobile App Testing Challenges

 
Assessing the quality and performance of the application is a daunting task, and quite tricky as well.

  • Availability of testing tools – Many companies doing in-house testing might lack the necessary testing tools and testing methodologies, especially when it comes to apps that are multi-device compliant. Such companies generally rely on augmentation partners to provide them with the guidelines, tools, and methodologies required for testing.
  • Device fragmentation – Mobile apps are used across multiple devices and platforms like iOS, Android, Windows etc. These operating systems will have different versions as well. There would also be differences in screen resolution, connectivity options, and memory sizes. The testers need to make sure that the app is compatible with everything above. They will need to prepare for one huge headache as well.
  • External vs in-house testing – Testers often experience budget constraints and tight deadlines. This would mean the company will have to either outsource the work to a reliable service provider or have it handled by the in-house team itself. This puts more pressure on the in-house testing team.
  • Mobile application lifecycle – No piece of code can normally be free from bugs. There will be at least one that didn’t catch the eyes of testers. When the end-user identifies one such bug, he will want it fixed immediately. The application must also be compatible with more recent OS upgrades. This means that testers are required to be vigilant at all times, and always keep an eye on consumer feedback.

These are but a few challenges that testers can face. The point is that mobile app testing is very tricky to nail, demanding solid testing tactics to actually succeed in the testing. An improperly tested application can do a lot of harm for the business. A solid testing strategy should take a lot of critical factors into account.

Here are 6 tactics to concoct a winning strategy that ensures the right proportion of quality assurance and end-user satisfaction with respect to business goals.
 

Physical Devices or Device Emulators

 
If the testers are working in an Agile ecosystem, they can use device emulators in the early stages of development, or in early ‘sprints’. Emulators allow rapid testing, and are quite cost-effective as well. Many popular emulators provide pseudo-live environment and network bypass options.

However, to deeply understand how the application can come of use in real-life scenarios, they will have to use physical devices. So basically, mobile testing involves figuring out the perfect combination of physical devices and emulators that gives optimal result efficiently. Physical devices are also ideal for beta testing.
 

Selecting Mobile Devices

 
Choosing the right path of testing mobile applications is normally not an easy decision for the testing team as there will be several variables they’d have to consider including the target market and the reach of the application. Device selection is one of those variables.

To select a device, testers will have to take into account many factors such as connectivity options, memory sizes, screen resolution, OS versions, and even form factor.
 

Testing on Cloud

 
This particular tactic is gaining popularity owing to how it makes managing countless scenarios easier. The Cloud technology can be leveraged to generate a web-based mobile testing environment where the testers manage, test and deploy applications. In addition, the testing environment on cloud curbs project costs, reduces time-to-market, consequently increasing ROI.

Some of the major benefits of this tactic include synchronized architectures, complex applications support, real-time results, and no additional costs or need for advanced testing tools and licensing.
 

Performance Testing

 
Performance testing is mandatory for mobile applications. Smartphones and mobile devices come with large memory capacities at present. So we have to assume that the end-user will have a lot of data on their smartphones. If those data are relevant to the functioning or performance of the application being tested, performance testing is certainly necessary.

The testers should make sure that the performance of the app doesn’t degrade with the increase in data it’s supposed to be working with. Applications with server-side components need to be tested with many number of users.
 

Network Connectivity

 
This is a critical factor that significantly influences mobile applications that depend on it. The best course of action here is to test the application in actual network environments it’s designed to work on. It can be done using configurable simulation tools. This will help the testers assess the app’s behavior, and ensure that it performs consistently well across various network environments.
 

Security Testing

 
Apps that require users to submit their credentials are looked at with doubt. Generally, users think about providing an app with confidential data and credentials. This is reason enough to consider security testing as very important and mandatory.

Security testing should be done if:

  • The app stores credit card details and other payment information
  • The app uses network protocols
  • The app uses Device ID
  • The app requires authentication to grant access to data
  • The app locks out the user after a preset number of login attempts
  • The app requires many permissions to provide all functionalities

Apps handling confidential data should have security mechanisms that encrypt those data.
 

Conclusion

 
Though in-house testing is full of challenges for testers, they can still make the experience better by practicing these tactics. A basic testing strategy might not ensure that the application is fit for use, and delivers the quality it promised. The plan should take several factors into account for devising the right testing strategy.

Written by: Suraj Jayaram

The final developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 rolled out this year, and it packs features that could positively expand android development. The new OS update came out a month ago along with a surprise from Google. The tech behemoth partnered with LG and introduced two flagship smartwatches out of the box featuring the 2.0.

The developer preview, that came out earlier, is a different story. As always, Google made sure the developers have things to work on….primarily the iOS support.

YES! A massive feature of the operating system is full iOS support. For the mobile application development sector, this is a pretty big deal.
 

What it means

 
Basically, it means that android developers can create iPhone apps that will be supported by wearables running Android Wear 2.0.

Previous Android smartwatches connected to iOS were able to access apps through the Android Wear iOS app, and only use the ones distributed by Google. Now, with the iOS support, Android and iOS developers can team up to enhance user experience even further opening the doors to integrating more innovative tech to the much beloved platform.

iOS support is just one feature. Other noteworthy additions include:

  • Navigation drawer app
  • NFC Host Card Emulation support
  • Bug fixes

The NFC Host Card Emulation support could make it possible to pay for purchases through Android Pay.

It should also be noted that the iOS support doesn’t work both ways i.e. iOS users can use Android powered wearables running the 2.0 Android Wear. They will be able to run iOS apps in the device. But the same cannot be said for Android users. They still won’t be able to connect Apple Watch to their Android smartphones.

Developers will be able to submit applications developed with the Android Wear 2.0 version to the Google Play Store for publication. Once authorized, the apps can be made available to users owning Android Wear 2.0 devices.

That said, the Android Wear 2.0 update still hasn’t rolled out except for a select few devices. Even those with the developer preview haven’t received the update. The delay may not be Google’s fault but rest assured when it does come out for the wearables, it will not be disappointing the users.

Written by: Rikhil Mohan
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