SDK or software development kit or a devkit, as it is also known, refers to the set of tools and programs that software developers use to create platform-specific apps. The SDK toolkit can include a wide variety of software like code samples, libraries, processes, guides, documentation etc.
An SDK download for a mobile app has the following advantages:
- It enables quicker integration with the client’s existing tech stack thereby shortening the sales and engineering cycles
- Faster deployment can be enabled by taking help from existing SDKs thus doing away with the need for coding from scratch
- SDK enables interoperability thereby facilitating easier integration of other tools thus leading to greater brand exposure
- It ensures greater control over the elements that appear in other apps with which it has been integrated
But the SDK for a mobile app also gives rise to certain challenges for mobile app testing services, especially when they perform cross-platform mobile app testing.
Some of the common challenges faced are:
- Ensuring that SDK testing does not crash its parent mobile app
- SDK size should not be very large
- SDK initiated crash handling
- Update to SDK to align it with newer versions of the app that it is built-in,
- SDK testing on tablets
- SDK Cross-platform testing scope within given time, resource and cost constraints
Cross-platform Mobile SDK Testing
Native mobile apps and automated testing have never had a smooth relationship. Conducting automated testing on these native mobile apps is quite a pain, especially when you create and distribute open-source SDKs across more than one platform. These instances always result in duplication of efforts because the same source needs to be tested across various technology stacks. For mobile app testing services, this can prove to be expensive for both unit test development and maintenance. This cost keeps escalating as test coverage increases.
The testing strategy also differs based on whether the mobile app development type is native, cross-compile, mobile web or hybrid. This is because the selection of testing tools will differ based on how the mobile app is built and deployed.
Also, when an SDK powered mobile app is expected to run on varied software and hardware configurations, there are bound to be obstacles and challenges that are faced. The possible permutations that can take place when software and hardware configurations are combined are staggering. Thus it is not unusual for challenges and obstacles to crop up. The important challenges that are faced include:
1. Achieving User Interface Consistency Is Difficult
This problem arises when there is one app running on multiple versions of devices and browsers or both. The user should ideally be able to pick-up from where he had left irrespective of the device that he is using. To facilitate this, the mobile app needs to have a certain amount of compatibility with different screen resolutions and screen sizes prevalent on different devices. It also needs to achieve consistency in managing fonts and style sheets.
The only way to overcome this is to opt for a responsive design. For this, mobile app testing services need to stringently plan out cross-platform SDK mobile app testing.
2. Issues With Interaction And Inputs
When it comes to data input or interaction with the device, several different methods need to be dealt with. There are the physical buttons, voice and touchscreen controls, third-party keyboards and even handwriting recognition in some cases. Thus to test the SDK mobile app across different platforms, each of these methods of input needs to be tested and reviewed comprehensively. It seems prudent to mention here that if the initial interaction with the app causes problems for the user, they will tend to abandon the app.
Input method testing gets further complicated due to the different UI conventions followed in different countries across the world. These regional preferences create even more variations in the tests to be conducted.
Accessibility support, which has become extremely important now, also needs to be debugged separately. This increases the workload and responsibility for mobile app testing services and cross-platform SDK mobile app testing becomes very time and effort consuming.
3. Storage And Data
The tests to solve consistency issues tend to throw up problems with data and storage. For apps that witness a heavy usage of transactional data or images, the cache memory takes a hit. This could potentially affect the performance and overall behaviour of the SDK mobile app developed. Coupled with this is the fact that IoT devices, smartphones, tablets etc. are always facing data storage space limitations. Thus testers involved in mobile app testing need to ensure that the app handles data properly else it might:
- Lead to budgets being exceeded and
- Have a drastic impact on app performance
4. Security And Other Compliances
Data security is another area of grave concern. This involves certain key components like data transmission, system data tracking, data security obligations and user confidentiality. Additionally, some browser modes like the incognito mode of Chrome might throw up unexpected challenges. The underlying OS might also have other vulnerabilities and potential areas of weaknesses which mobile app testing services have to contend with.
Regulations set by the government or industrial bodies have to be complied with in most countries, failing which one could incur huge fines. Thus it is cheaper to test the apps thoroughly for cross-platform performance before they are released.
5. User Expectation
The main reason for developing a mobile app is to ensure that people use it. The more people use it, the better revenue it generates. But statistics also say that about 23% of mobile apps get abandoned by users after a frustrating first use. Users experience unnecessary hassles if mobile apps are released without proper cross-platform SDK mobile app testing. Some apps cater to specific needs for its users or it might also cater to a specific set of users with unique needs. For example, bank employees need to authenticate themselves before they are permitted to use the app. Thus mobile app testing services need to have a thorough understanding of the target audience of the app and ensure effective testing so that user expectations can be met.
Both cross-platform compatibility and incorporation of SDK in a mobile app create some expected but mostly unexpected challenges for testers. But with careful planning and proper execution, it is possible to overcome them and come up with a superlative mobile app.