Device Farms: Scaling Mobile Test Automation

Device Farms: Scaling Mobile Test Automation

As the demand for mobile apps continues to grow, so does the need for efficient and effective testing methods. This is where device farms come into play. 

Before releasing an application, extensive testing is a must to ensure compatibility across diverse operating systems, networks, browsers, screen sizes, and real-world usage scenarios. Conducting initial in-house testing on a limited number of devices is a valuable first step. However, it is impractical for a team to thoroughly secure and test their application across the entire range of mobile devices. 

Device farms simulate the testing process of Android and iOS applications on numerous device platforms. Subsequently, software developers and testers can diminish the costs and time required by utilizing the device farms for testing. Device farms help to achieve more significant test coverage and ease the DevOps mobile pipeline.

Device farms offer developers immediate access to a vast range of real mobile devices and networks, facilitating comprehensive testing across numerous device configurations prevalent in the current market. Through these remote testing environments, app developers can verify the functionality and usability of their applications on various devices, including new and older model devices. This is particularly crucial as developers must cater to consumers who may not upgrade to the latest hardware annually.

This article will analyze the capabilities of device farms for mobile application testing.

Let’s go. 

What is a Device Farm?

A device farm is a testing environment that enables quality assurance professionals to conduct remote performance testing of websites, web applications, and mobile apps across various real devices. This platform provides access to both contemporary and older versions of devices from multiple manufacturers, facilitating comprehensive testing scenarios.

Establishing and managing a device farm can be done in-house or by utilizing cloud hosting services. Creating an in-house device farm can present challenges in terms of setup complexity, along with associated maintenance and operational expenses. The team must ensure that various devices, browser versions, and operating systems are readily available. Additionally, if the team wishes to conduct app testing from diverse geographical locations, appropriate arrangements will need to be made to facilitate this requirement.

What is a Device Cloud?

A device cloud is a collection of devices hosted on a cloud-based platform. These devices are equipped with pre-installed operating systems and web browsers. 

While certain device clouds offer emulators and simulators, those granting access to physical devices offer a distinct advantage to testers. This capability enables testers to assess the performance of their applications or websites in real-world conditions. By utilizing the application or website as an end-user would on a real desktop, tablet, or mobile phone, testers can gain valuable insights into their builds’ functionality and user experience.

During testing on a real device cloud, developers engage with and manage mobile devices to assess the appearance and functionality of the user interface across various devices. This practice facilitates the efficient detection of functional discrepancies and the identification of any absent elements. 

The application performance can be assessed in the context of hardware-related factors, including battery consumption, CPU usage, network connectivity, and interruptions such as incoming messages and notifications from other applications. Device farms provide testers with the opportunity to conduct manual evaluations of the functionality of apps and websites, simulating an end-user experience. 

Benefits of Mobile Application Testing on Device Farms

Testing the mobile apps on multiple devices becomes expensive and time-consuming when working at scale. Device farms provide access to thousands of devices with various configurations. Developers can use emulators and simulators to perform testing. Furthermore, cloud-based testing allows for capturing performance issues. 

Here are a few benefits of using device farms for mobile application testing:

Ensure Cross-Browser Compatibility: Testing applications on a device cloud farm provides access to different browser types and versions, both new and legacy, for thorough compatibility.

Debug Issues Faster: Debugging issues faster implies that developers can fix them before they become nuisances. This saves time and capital in the long run.

Enable Simultaneous Testing: A device cloud effectively mitigates the need for testers to wait for physical devices to become accessible. It enables multiple testers to concurrently access devices within the cloud infrastructure, facilitating efficient and continuous testing processes.

Get instant access to Broad Device Diversity: By utilizing a device farm, testers gain immediate access to a diverse array of devices, encompassing smartphones, tablets, and various operating systems. This streamlines the process by negating the requirement to physically acquire and upkeep an extensive inventory of devices.

Types of Device Farms

There are mainly three types of device farms:

On-Premise Device Farms: On-premise device farms are established within an organization’s facilities. These farms have a smaller number of devices as compared to cloud-based farms. However, they offer more control over the testing environment. 

Cloud-Based Device Farms: Cloud-based device farms are hosted by third-party vendors, such as TestGrid or AWS. These farms provide users access to various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and desktops. 

Hybrid Device Farms: Hybrid device farms integrate functionalities of cloud-based and on-premise device farms. These farms are an adaptable testing solution suitable for businesses requiring scalability based on their testing needs.

Device farms for Application Testing

All the device farms use some script. This script is launched by the operating system to simulate actions, such as gestures, touch, button presses, and more. The primary difference is the subsystems utilized by the device farms for executing the scripts. 

Here are a few top device farms with lucrative features and impressive performance.

LambdaTest 

LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform that allows live and automated mobile app testing across public and private device clouds. It is a powered test orchestrating and test execution platform. This allows you to perform automated and manual testing across large farms of real devices and OS combinations. The platform supports Android emulators and iOS simulators, which are known for their reliability, cost-effectiveness, scalability, and seamless integration with your CI/CD pipeline.

Achieve beta, live, automated, and API testing efficiently through the utilization of extensive real-device tests with minimized error rates. The platform offers a wide array of features, including unlimited screenshots and videos, single-use VMs, secure local tunnelling, REST API access, and various debugging tools.

In alignment with AWS device farms, LambdaTest provides access to top-tier script executors like Appium, Espresso, and XCUITest to enhance your testing capabilities.

A few features of LambdaTest are: 

  • It has zero learning curve, facilitating everyone to test the shot with its easy English scripting feature. 
  • Supports parallel automated testing, authorizing quick results.
  • Perform automated mobile application test scenarios remotely on over 3000 Android and iOS devices.
  • CI/CD integration, bug sharing, and other features make reporting results quicker and easier.
  • Testsigma delivers drill-down test reports with screenshots and video recordings.
  • Creating detailed test cases for UI/UX testing is leisurely with LambdaTest 

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Firebase Test Lab

Firebase Test Lab, developed by Google, is a robust platform tailored for testing Android applications. While its primary focus is on Android apps, it also supports iOS application testing. The platform utilizes real production devices hosted in Google data centers for comprehensive app testing.

The platform offers customizable locale settings and updated APIs, enabling users to conveniently test their applications by configuring hardware and software settings.

Firebase Test Lab seamlessly integrates with Android Studio, Firebase console, and gCloud CLI and can also be integrated with continuous integration pipelines. Users can employ various testing frameworks to execute scripts effectively, such as Espresso, Robotium, UI Automator 2.0, and Robo tools.

The testing plans of Blaze and Spark include quotas for testing and cloud APIs. The Spark plan is free and allows up to 15 daily test runs. On the other hand, the Blaze plan’s pricing is determined by the duration of test runs.

AWS Device Farm

AWS Device Farm is a highly utilized and top-performing mobile device testing platform in the market. It enables users to conduct simultaneous testing on multiple devices, thereby enhancing the efficiency of test suite execution. Additionally, the platform provides detailed logs and videos to facilitate thorough debugging processes. The platform offers various devices, allowing users to customize settings such as memory, CPU usage, location, and carriers to cater to diverse testing requirements.

AWS Device Farm utilizes videos and logs to expedite the bug reproduction process. It refines real-world scenarios by customizing location, network settings, language preferences, and more. Besides, the platform benefits from various plugins and APIs for seamless integration with popular CI/CD tools, such as Jenkins and Android Studio.

It establishes private device labs to mitigate delays caused by lengthy queues. Furthermore, it employs script executors like Appium for iOS and Android, Espresso and Robotium for Android, and UIAutomation and XCTest for iOS.

Xamarin Test Cloud

The Xamarin device farms are integrated within Microsoft’s Visual Studio App Center, facilitating the execution of tests on a vast array of over 2500 mobile devices. By leveraging Visual Studio, developers can seamlessly upload their applications and corresponding tests to the Xamarin Cloud platform. This process automates the application installation on the selected environment and prepares the test runs for execution.

Xamarin provides a variety of frameworks, including Appium, Calabash, Espresso, and Xamarin.UITest, for the execution of test scripts. Upon completion of the test runs, notifications containing comprehensive test reports are automatically sent to all registered users.

Samsung Remote Test Lab

To meet the hardware specifications and facilitate the execution of Android applications, Samsung operates its own Android device facility, known as the Samsung Remote Test Lab. This facility comprises a range of authentic Samsung devices, including the latest models, situated across ten different locations in eight countries worldwide. Upon registering for a complimentary account, testers gain access to the nearest testing location. However, testers are not limited to utilizing only the closest location, as they also have the option to connect to other service locations within the network.

The Samsung Remote Test Lab offers a distinctive method for installing Android applications through its drag-and-install feature. Testers can easily drag the file from their local explorer to the dashboard for installation. Upon completion, testers gain access to various features that can be leveraged on the devices. 

Conclusion

Device farms are a valuable tool for scaling mobile test automation and ensuring the quality of mobile applications. With the ability to run tests on multiple devices simultaneously and access various devices, device farms improve testing efficiency and effectiveness. 

As technology continues to advance and mobile applications become more complex, device farms will only become essential in the development and testing process. As such, investing in a device farm is a smart decision for any organization looking to stay competitive in the mobile market.

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