Mobile Testing in the Cloud: An Interview with Rachel Obstler

[interview]

Cameron: I'm so glad you brought up test automation because that kind of leads into my next question here. Your tutorial speaks to the ability to improve efficiency of mobile testing through automation. So does manual testing still have a place in improving efficiency?

Rachel: Yeah, I would say it in another way, which is you can also improve the efficiency of your manual testing. Obviously, all testing has to be done either by a machine or automated or manually. And there's always going to be a place for manual testing. It doesn't make sense typically to automate testing of maybe a brand-new feature, right, so a first timer using it.

Or things like exploratory testing, when you're trying to break something or you're trying to really act like a user would. These are not things that typically you want to automate. You want a real user performing them to the extent that you can make that testing, maybe through efficient access to devices in the cloud and very available for people, then you help them make their manual testing more efficient.

Cameron: Your company did a mobile quality survey, and you mentioned it briefly. Can you tell us a little about the survey?

Rachel: Sure, I'll just use some of the highlights of the survey. We had about sixteen hundred people respond to the survey, most of whom were QA professionals. We also had people from development, IT—but the same type of organizations. What we saw, as I mentioned earlier, is that the quality expectations of mobile apps were actually higher, but the amount of time that organizations got to do the testing and the resources that they got were not any higher—and, in some cases, lower.

We saw that, interestingly, many QA groups are still organized individually, so there will be many QA groups across an organization, but that tool decisions are more often made centrally. So there may be a central tools group or a central organization that's thinking about tools for many different QA groups. That can always lead to friction when, say, the needs of an individual or a group are not necessarily being met by the centralized tools division.

We also saw that companies are still doing the majority of testing for mobile testing on real devices, but that—and as a result, maybe—we also saw that access to a variety of devices was the number one important feature for functional testing. Then lastly, we also saw that our respondents had not done a huge amount of automation in the mobile space so far. Many of them have started, had done a small amount of automation, but not a large amount.

Cameron: If they were doing test automation, how efficient was it?

Rachel: We did not exactly ask that question, so it's a tough one to answer. I can speak for some of our customers, because we do provide products like that, that they find that automating even, like, say, a really simple bill acceptance test can actually improve your ability to get back to your development team and when the build is accepted from—we saw someone get it from two weeks to essentially a day. So automation can make a big difference.

Cameron: You have five clear ways to improve the testing process, but what is really the main takeaway?

Rachel: I think I'd like them to go away—especially if they're not as familiar with mobile testing yet, a lot of companies are bringing this in to different groups and it's becoming something that more and more QA groups have to start taking care of—that they come away with some clear thoughts or ideas of how to think about tooling for mobile: what are the aspects of tooling, what do they need to think about when they're trying to choose the appropriate tool for their organization.

Cameron: Now, let's get to some more general questions. You have over a decade of experience in the wireless industry, and a lot has happened in ten years. I think back to my first phone—it was a brick. What do you think will happen in the next ten years?

Rachel: It's really such a hard question to answer, but the one thing that I'm pretty sure about is that the mobile—and again, it doesn't need to be a phone, it could be a tablet—but anything that's mobile is truly going to become the center of the communication world.

Now, you still see a majority of revenue being generated on desktop, not necessarily yet on mobile. You still see traffic's pretty even at this point. I think it's pretty close to being even, but I think we're really going to see the switch or you're going to see the majority of not only traffic, but purchases such as all interactions, social interaction, et cetera, really happening and the mobile device being the center for that.

Cameron: And do you have a mobile device that you're kind of partial to?

User Comments

1 comment
Mukesh Sharma's picture

Thanks for the nice read, Rachel and Cameron. It is always exciting to hear what's in store in the mobile world, with such a dynamic landscape. Rachel - we have been working with a lot of clients and have been helping them with their mobile testing and test automation needs. What is your take on when and how to differentiate between using a real device and using one on the cloud, for testing? And also, good luck with your presentation.

April 16, 2014 - 5:51am

About the author

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds's picture Cameron Philipp-Edmonds

When not working on his theory of time travel, Cameron T. Philipp-Edmonds is writing for TechWell, StickyMinds, and AgileConnection. With a background in advertising and marketing, Cameron is partial to the ways that technology can enhance a company's brand equity. In his personal life, Cameron enjoys long walks on the beach, romantic dinners by candlelight, and playing practical jokes on his coworkers.

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