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Mobile Performance Testing - is it possible?

Author: Rekha Manoharan, Project Manager

We are now living in a digital world where we all pursue digitization and mobile technology. Everyone wants information to be available in a jiffy. Can we then imagine a world without mobile phones in this era? I don't think so! It has become part and parcel of our lives.

As stated in a white paper by Cisco titled 'Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update', mobile data traffic has grown 4,000-fold over the past ten years and almost 400-million-fold over the past 15 years.

Cisco forecasts 30.6 exabytes per month of mobile data traffic by 2020.

Coming to the performance testing of mobile applications, you must also have the following questions in mind:
  • Can mobile applications be performance tested?
  • What are the challenges faced during mobile performance testing?
  • How is it different from regular performance testing? What are the factors to be considered?
  • What is the client expectation in this new era? 
Yes, Mobile applications can be performance tested and have different user scenarios to it - like accessing native mobile application, viewing the desktop version of the web application on a mobile browser, and then viewing mobile websites. 

There are various tools available in market today to performance test mobile applications. To name a few - HP Loadrunner, Neotys Neoload, IBM RPT, Silk Performer, SOASTA - CloudTest Mobile, JMeter, Monkey Talk, Radview Webload, etc. Most of these tools provide the option of selecting different types of phone, network latency, bandwidth, etc., which would help in customizing the script as per requirement. For example, in HP Loadrunner, select the Mobile TruClient protocol; in recording options choose iPhone, user agent as Mozilla / 5.0, and display size. HP TruClient is a new browser-based virtual user generator that supports next-generation applications. 

The major challenge faced with mobile performance testing is, the application speed depends on network, bandwidth, the phones that we use, and our geographical location. We might have observed the same application working faster in some places while slowing down in other places. Users have high expectations when it comes to speed which, in turn, depends greatly on the points mentioned above.

Remember to consider following factors while performance testing mobile applications:
  • Interruptions: Interruptions could range from SMS to network outage
  • Spike load test: Typically test with two to three times of peak load. With the reach of social networking sites as well as business and marketing trends, anything could spark a sudden surge in mobile traffic
  • Different types of mobile networks, phones, latency, bandwidth, signal strength
  • Different types of browsers
  • Different geographical locations as the application can be accessed from anywhere in the world
  • Different operating system - IOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry
Consumer expectations have forced businesses to launch mobile websites and apps to retain their market share and not lose out to competitors. Consumers have high expectations when it comes to mobile apps, with 78% expecting apps to load as fast, or even faster than a mobile website, and 80% demanding that mobile apps launch in less than three seconds. Hence, app performance is critical for customer satisfaction rather than having a flashy site which does not open half the time.

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