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Problems With Online Android Emulators and How to Solve it?

Suyash Dubey
By Suyash Dubey
October 13, 2017
12 min Read
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Problems With Online Android Emulators and How to Solve it?

Online Android Emulator to Test Apps

Android now occupies the number one place in the world Smartphone arena with a market share of 87% at the end of 2016 that means 9 out of 10 Smartphones in the world run on Android. With such dominance in the space, the creation of mobile apps has reached never before heights. But the constant innovation that fuels this market has major problems in terms of the development and testing timelines. Running an online Android emulator, which used to be a solution once up a time, is not good enough anymore. So what can companies and developers do to stay ahead in the development race? What alternates exist to improve your app’s usability, performance and customer satisfaction? Let us explore.

With the explosion of Smartphones, customers’ screen size is reducing. People are moving from desktops and laptops to Smartphones for their everyday work and personal needs. This massive shift from big screens to a personal device has created a huge opportunity for developers to create tools that can help people with their work and their personal needs. Users can now view their spreadsheets and book movie tickets from their phones.

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Apple’s Appstore and Android Play store has become the ‘go to’ place for people to discover apps that meet their requirements. The ratings left on those apps will decide how many people will install those apps. Customers have once again become the king of the market.

Days of unique apps are over. For your every need you will find at least two or more apps, giving you a choice. So if you want people to choose your app, install it, use and positively review it, your app needs to user-friendly, work on most handsets and be bug-free.

In the past, companies and developers determined product lifecycle. They planned the updates, feature upgrades etc based on the resources and other factors. Today the scenario is changed. The Market dictates the timeline. If your app is incompatible with the latest OS, or not render properly, or suck a lot of battery juice, off it goes into oblivion to be replaced by a better app.

The fight for the screen space is constant.

You can win the fight only if you develop faster than others, test it better and offer a good user experience. That means developers will need to compress their development cycle and testers should speed up their testing while at the same time, maintain high usability and reliability of the app.

Android and iPhone both offer an easy to use platform for developers. iPhone has a few products (IP6, IP7, IP8 etc.) and versions (OS 8, OS9, OS10 etc). The permutation of devices and OS makes testing with real devices easier although buying that many Apple devices is quite an expensive investment. You don’t need an online emulator while testing for iPhone.

In contrast, Android has a highly fragmented market. Apart from different versions (KitKat, Jellybean etc), there are different forks of Android (Stock, Cyanogen, OxygenOS etc) and there are also different skins that manufacturers put on their devices (TouchWiz, Optimus, Sense etc). Real android device testing to cover all the combinations is close to impossible and quite expensive.

Enter Online Android Emulators

Online Android Emulator

When they started, online Android emulators were like a boon to developers. They could cross test their apps across different devices without physically buying the phones. Most of the Android emulators were easy to set up and a fairly inexpensive solution. Most importantly, online Android emulators could mimic hardware and software behaviour making easy for developers to identify unexpected behaviour during the early stage testing.

But as the market for apps grew, the demands on the app became even higher. Testing all the features of the app on an Online Android Emulators was not providing the full picture of how the app would behave on a customer’s phone.

For example, a user installs a new app on the phone and the next day he notices the battery is getting low very fast. Looking at the battery usage, he discovers the culprit is the new app and bam! He hits uninstall. He then visits the Playstore and writes a negative review of the app’s battery-sucking problem. The next 20 people who see that review will not install the app.

These kinds of bugs cannot be easily identified using an online android emulator. Apart from that, online emulators are slow because they have to replicate both software and the hardware components. thus slowing down the whole testing cycle.

Online android mobile emulator stimulate android devices on a PC to test an app on a variety of devices and API levels without the need for physical devices. Nox is the best online android emulator although BlueStacks is the best android emulator for online games. Online android emulators come with predefined configurations for various Android phone, tablet, Wear OS, and Android TV devices. There are many online android emulators for iOS available in the market.

Online Android emulators also have other limitations that make them unsuitable for large-scale testing. There are a limited number of OS versions you can run on an Android emulator. Even on a good PC with HAXM acceleration support, you can run approximately 8 emulators at a time. Even if you manage to set up all the online emulators you need, one small problem can send the whole system crashing forcing you to start all over again.

So what can app developers do to speed up their product lifecycle while releasing a relatively bug-free app? Is there any alternative for Online Android Emulators?

real mobile android and ios devices

Testing on real devices has a few important benefits. Your testing can be in real conditions i.e. weather, location network accessibility, interruptions like SMS, calls etc can be tested accurately. You can also validate the screen brightness, visibility in different lighting conditions. Testing on a real device will be a lot faster than on an Android emulator.

The biggest problem in using actual android phones is the cost of buying all the phones you need to test. There are approximately 11k Android phone models in the market making it financially impossible to test on all available Android devices. This is one reason Online Android Emulators became famous in the initial stages.

You can run only one test at a time. If you have staff in another city or country, they cannot access the device. If you need to install an app, you have to do it manually on every device. Apart from that, there is also a question of logistics, maintaining the devices, updating them, etc all of which are time-consuming tasks.

One tactic used earlier involved a combination of using online Android emulators during the early stages and a small selected list of real Android devices during the beta testing. While this would work for a localized team, it still does not optimize device usage and covers a tiny portion of devices while the fragmentation continues. Thus it is not an optimal solution.

Is there a third alternative that can beat the disadvantages of online android emulator and real devices testing?
In recent times, a new mode of testing is gaining popularity among both amateurs as well as professional developers. It is called Mobile cloud testing.

What is Mobile cloud testing?

mobile cloud testing

Testing on real devices using the cloud as the Interface is the new way of balancing the real android testing while making it economical and scalable. As a developer, you need not own any phones or buy expensive software. You connect to a lab that has a huge selection of Smartphones, select the ones you want to test on and start, it is that simple. You can run functional tests, automated tests, performance and other forms of tests easily. Since the interface is cloud-based, you can test from anywhere in the world, at any time.

There will be some changes in the way you set up your test, install an app, etc. All the testing though will happen on actual devices under user-level conditions. You can set the location, observe CPU utilization, battery drainage and pretty much anything else that you can do with a device in your hand. These are the things you can never test with an online Android emulator.

The best part is that you need not invest in any special infrastructure for such a facility. There are independent services providers who can allow you access to the device on a cost per use basis. You can even reserve devices in advance if you want to plan a battery of test over an extended period.

Opting for mobile cloud testing service gives you access to real devices at a fraction of a cost of setting up your own lab. There are no recurring charges as most of them use a ‘pay as you go’ model. You can spend all your time in testing rather than worry about the infrastructure, maintenance and other problems that come from the ‘owning’ model.

While there may not be a cost associated with getting Android emulators, they need a lot of expensive hardware to run a sufficient number of an online android emulator. Mobile cloud testing does not have a problem.

Using Mobile cloud testing, you can cover more ground over a large number of devices than if you were using either only real android device testing or the online android emulator. For example, if you have 10k scenarios to cover, you can spread it over 1k devices through automation rather than 1k test scenarios over 100 different online android emulator.

One of the biggest benefits of testing mobiles over the cloud is that you are more likely to discover bugs that affect real-world customers than what an emulator can reveal. From a user satisfaction perspective, this is probably one of the biggest advantages mobile cloud testing has over online android emulator.

Most of the app development work has moved to the agile methodology which means testing will run almost parallel to development work. You will need a way to speed up the testing process to meet the sprint deadlines.

Using a mobile cloud, it is easy to streamline the testing process whether you are using a DevOps or an agile approach. Continuous testing is a lot easier to streamline over the cloud setup rather than via online Android emulators or even with real devices.

Many development teams are spread across the globe. Cloud setup gives them an easy way to test seamlessly from different geographies.

Security for Mobile apps testing

mobile app testing

Different apps have different needs in terms of security. An Astrology app that gives general predictions may have little data security requirements while a banking app might need the testing to be done in a secure environment. Such clients can always go for a private cloud or even opt for on-premises setup. When you use a good solution provider, you can just hook up your existing devices to their setup and give access to your cross-border teams to test on the devices.

Testing performance issues, be it CPU load, battery discharge or performance over 2G, 3G and other networks work a lot easier when you use the mobile testing via the cloud platform. You can select which network mode you want to be on and apply the test. This kind of flexibility is difficult and sometimes, impossible using an android emulator.

Mobile Apps Performance Testing

mobile apps performance testing

Apart from the need to test for compatibility with existing apps, battery usage, network usage etc, and mobile apps will need to go through a round of performance testing. Due to the ever-increasing storage space in a Smartphone, users tend to store a lot of content on their phones. So it is necessary to find how the increase in storage affects the application performance.

For example, if you are developing a photo gallery, how does your app perform when accessing 5 GBs worth of pictures and videos, v/s accessing 50 GBs worth of pictures and videos? Does it slow the pre-fetch? Customers are very unforgiving of apps that slow down their phones.

In case your app has a server-side component, it is important you run a performance test to verify how many concurrent users the server can handle. There have been many instances where e-commerce sites crashed being unable to keep up with increased demands during holiday sales.

These are a few areas that we cannot test on an online android emulator.

A customer kept waiting is a customer lost

A couple of years ago, it was acceptable to wait for two-three minutes to download an image on a phone. But today if your app takes longer than few seconds to start up, it is killed and replaced. The tide has shifted to the customer’s side in the Appstore and Playstore. The only way to win this game is to be Nimble, easy to use and not crash the phone.

Thanks to Mobile cloud testing, you don’t have to wait for the slow, unreliable online Android Emulators anymore. Testing on Mobile cloud gives you the opportunity to cut your infrastructure cost, speed up your testing cycle, spread your testing over a larger set of devices and gives you close to real-world results. As the completion heats up for the screen space, you have one tool in your kit that can help your app survive the tough jungle of user reviews.

Want to test your Mobile App?

Join pCloudy Platform!

Suyash Dubey
Suyash Dubey

Suyash is a content strategist at pCloudy. He is a frequent contributor to the world's leading mobile technology blogs and tech forums. In his spare time, you will find him reading detective novels, watching a documentary or exploring a new destination.

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Testing Mobile Apps on Different Networks

Avinash
By Avinash
July 6, 2016
5 min Read
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Testing Mobile Apps on Different Networks

Testing Mobile Apps

If you are someone using a smartphone to get through most of your day, then I’m sure would you’ve experienced it – You are in an elevator using your smartphone trying to find a restaurant for dinner but the app you are using unexpectedly crashes, or you are in a crowded subway using your smartphone to upload a video to some social media portal but the app you are using takes too long to respond, or you are just waiting for a friend in the basement of a parking lot and in the meanwhile you decide to shop for some new shoes but the e-commerce app you are using does not respond the way it should. Isn’t it frustrating when the apps you are using does not work when you require it the most? In these situations, the first thing you do is simply uninstall it, or in the worst case write a bad review.

Strangely, though most of the apps are functional and performance tested, they are still found to be defective by the users. It could be possible that not all scenarios are covered during testing. So, where is the gap? Deeper investigations have revealed that mobile apps behave differently in different network environments. In the above scenarios particularly, it seems like there is more evidence indicating that these issues are caused due to irregular mobile networks in locations such as the Elevator, or the crowded Subway, or the basement of a parking lot.

Why do apps behave differently in different network environments?

The network has a huge impact on the behaviour of your apps. Most of the apps that we use today are functioning by constantly communicating and fetching information from some servers or users that are miles away. The communication that happens is on wireless networks that are unfortunately not always reliable or consistent. Though most MNOs have established wider and better networks, it is practically difficult to achieve absolute seamless connectivity with excellent signal stability using existing wireless technologies. This is because, inherently, wireless networks have several inconsistencies like the lack of bandwidth in some places, the drop in packets caused by handovers and routing while moving, and more interference from other networks. Additionally, the networks through which data is transferred wirelessly also vary based on the technology used like GPRS, UMTS, HSDPA, LTE etc.

Why should apps be tested in different network environments?

The unpredictability of wireless networks has a huge impact on the functionality, performance and user-experience of an app. This is why we often see certain functional defects, performance defects, and sometimes crashes only when the app is running on a certain network or in some specific locations. Besides, mobile apps are expected to function on everything from an excellent Wifi connection, to a snail-paced 2.5G connection. Hence mobile apps have to undergo a wide range of tests on different networks with a variety of conditions before they are released to the users.

Are you testing your apps on different network conditions?

Traditionally, mobile apps are tested using the best networks in perfect conditions. But in real environments when the apps are being used anything can go wrong – the network bandwidth might not be enough, the latency might be high, data losses might occur, or there might be interference from other networks. App development companies have now realised the impact a network can have on their apps and are slowly filling up the gaps in mobile app testing. They are now focused on ensuring the app’s functional stability and relentless performance despite network inconsistencies. But testing mobile apps on different varieties of networks with a range of uncommon conditions is overwhelming and challenging. Moreover, these apps have to be tested on numerous mobile devices. It’s a tedious but crucial task. Additionally, tools that support such testing are scarce.

How can you test your apps in different network environments?

  1. Testing Mobile Apps using live networks – Live networks can be used for testing mobile apps. The apps can be installed on real devices and can be tested on various networks like GPRS, UMTS, LTE, CDMA, etc. But the procedure of using real networks for app testing is slow, cumbersome, and mostly provides inaccurate results. Testers need to travel to different locations or wait for the network conditions to occur for conducting the tests. Furthermore, when the developers try to reproduce the bugs in order to fix it, the exact network conditions are hard to be replicated; eventually, most of the bugs will be closed as “Cannot Reproduce” while the bug still remains.
  2. Simulated networks – Network related tests for mobile apps need not be such a hassle if the testers are given full control of the network being used. Using a simulated lab network, testers can easily test their mobile apps by simply selecting and applying the type of network profile to be used. They can also create and customize different network profiles by simply changing parameters like Uplink Bandwidth, Downlink Bandwidth, Latency, Loss Percentage, Packets Corruption, etc. This setup helps testers to replicate a myriad of network conditions for testing mobile apps.
    On a larger view, when a mobile device cloud like pCloudy is being used you can test your mobile apps on varieties of networks, on hundreds of real mobile devices in parallel, through manual tests or automation runs. It is one platform that takes care of your entire app testing needs by helping app developers to easily test and experience the app functionality and performance on different networks and different mobile devices.
Avinash
Avinash

Avinash Tiwari is a thought leader, a recognized keynote speaker, and the co-founder of pCloudy.com. He has 15+ experience in Product development and Testing. He brings with him a passion for emerging technology and quick adoption, both of which have solidified his reputation as a leader in the mobile app testing field.

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Monitoring App Performance

Avinash
By Avinash
July 3, 2016
2 min Read
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Monitoring App Performance

Application Performance Monitoring

Mobile application testing does not stop when all the functional tests pass. Testing the application performance monitoring is a critical step before releasing it.

pCloudy helps you with performance profiling of your mobile apps. You can view the CPU usage, Memory usage, Data usage and Battery consumption while performing a series of actions on the app. The Real time app performance monitoring feature helps you to keep track of the app’s performance while conducting manual tests. You can even check the performance consistency of the app by running automation test suites in parallel on multiple devices and by also simulating different network environments.

App Performance while conducting Manual Tests

The performance of an app can be viewed real-time while conducting functional tests. You can simply select the application installed on the device from the Tools section to view a graph of Memory and CPU usage, with the packets/bytes consumed in the Data Usage.

application performance monitoring

All information captured during a testing session is gathered by the platform and stored in a secure location to be used later. When a tester completes his testing session using a device, the performance related information can be found in the Cloud Drive.

Battery Consumption

The Battery Consumption graph indicates Battery consumption by Device, Battery consumption by Application and Battery consumption in %.

Perf_Battery_Consumption

 CPU Consumption

The CPU consumption of an App is plotted as CPU consumption in percentage against Time Duration in seconds.

Perf_CPU_Consumption

Memory Consumption

The CPU consumption of an App is plotted as Memory consumption in ‘Mb’ against Time Duration in seconds.

Perf_Mem_Consumption

Avinash
Avinash

Avinash Tiwari is a thought leader, a recognized keynote speaker, and the co-founder of pCloudy.com. He has 15+ experience in Product development and Testing. He brings with him a passion for emerging technology and quick adoption, both of which have solidified his reputation as a leader in the mobile app testing field.

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iOS Beta Testing Using TestFlight

Avinash
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May 23, 2016
2 min Read
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iOS Beta Testing Using TestFlight

Introduction to iOS TestFlight

TestFlight is an online service used to distribute and test beta iOS applications. Developers can use Test Flight to evade the Apple’s bitter binding procedure for testing new versions of their apps. It provides over-the-air installation, testing, tracking and managing of Beta apps. In simple words, TestFlight acts as a link between the developer, the tester, and the Apple Developer Center.

How is it useful?

  • Distribution of the app over-the- air to Testers
  • Tracking and managing testing using TestFlight’s dashboard
  • Receiving feedback from testers to improve the app
  • To obtain reports about the device models, OS version used while testing the App
  • Automatically records any crashes the testers encounter and sends it to the Developer

This tutorial will walk you through integrating TestFlight into your own apps.

What do you need to start?

You have to have your certificates, app ID, and provisioning profiles in place before distributing your apps using Test Flight. Here’s the list of items you need:

  • A Developer ID to login to your developer account.
  • A Certificate for Distribution to export builds and distribute apps
  • An App ID
  • A Device UDID
  • Ad Hoc Provisioning Profile to distribute your app on testers devices
  • Sign your app with a valid ad hoc provisioning profile

These items will help you obtain an .ipa file that can be distributed for testing in iOS devices with UDIDs mentioned in the provisioning profile of the app.

Uploading your app for Beta Testing

Open up your project in Xcode, make sure you have a correct Bundle Identifier and that you’ve chosen the correct Distribution Certificate:

Choose Product\Archive from the top toolbar:

Once Xcode finishes archiving your project, click the shiny blue Submit to App Store… button:

Choose your development team

Hit Submit

Wait for your build to upload. Once done you will receive a “Submission Successful message”

Inviting Testers

Avinash
Avinash

Avinash Tiwari is a thought leader, a recognized keynote speaker, and the co-founder of pCloudy.com. He has 15+ experience in Product development and Testing. He brings with him a passion for emerging technology and quick adoption, both of which have solidified his reputation as a leader in the mobile app testing field.

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The Smartest Way to Choose the Right Testing Platform for Your App !

Avinash
By Avinash
March 7, 2016
4 min Read
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The Smartest Way to Choose the Right Testing Platform for Your App !

Choose the Right Testing Platform


As a mobile app maker, how sure are you about the success of your app? A small failure to recognize bugs can cost you thousands of dollars! A small mistake can turn you into a big failure among the users. Now, the question is, how to choose the best platform for testing.

Every mobile application is created differently from the other and the right platform to test can be the most important reason for your app’s success.

Right Testing Platform for Your App

Choosing the right platform among the various competing ones require a set of clear evaluation.

  • The nature of the targeted audience for your app. This will define the device matrix you should be targeting for your App Testing. Does that platform provide right device matrix for your testing needs?
  • Cloud based vs in-house setup – Does you testing process allow Apps to be allowed on outside cloud? Does your App have functionalities which work with in a secured network?
  • Type of Testing required for your App – Whether your current testing is manual or automated? Does your App require non-functional Testing?
  • Reliability and Scalability of the platform- Can it scale with your needs? Can the platform integrate with your existing tools and frameworks?
  • Return on Investment

Criterion

Description

Device Fragmentation

Can the platform handle you need of devices?

Availability

How critical for you instant availability of devices. Is you testing planned?

Automation

How much of testing is done using Automated scripts? Does the platform support the Automation tool that you are using or planning to use.

Type of Testing

What all functional features that you need to test? Does your App require non-functional Testing?

Extensibility ( integration with in-house frameworks)

Can the platform integrate with your in-house frameworks ( Automation, Test Management , Bug Management etc..)

DevOps

Can the platform support DevOps? Can it integrate with your build systems/dev IDEs or continuous integration systems.

Security

Can you upload your app on an external cloud? Does you App require interaction with your internal server?
Usage level and Cost

What is the usage pattern of your test and developing team and what is your budget?

Market Share: Andriod VS iOS

pCloudy provides the necessary tools for convenient, effective and immediate mobile app testing. Our device is based on cloud and it enables continuous development and testing on real devices. Our unique debugging feature recognizes potential errors that will significantly reduce costs and time. Our platform provides single-click access to end numbers of real Android and Ios devices.

To experience the best with your app, we have developed three different types of cloud environments for you.

Public Cloud

With pCloudy’s publicly accessed cloud, you can perform tests directly from your browser. You won’t get confused to choose between manual or automated because both are available in our public cloud environment. We allow our users to test on a comprehensive list of real IOS and Android devices. You can also test your app over various network conditions like 2G, 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi. You can either configure your own browser or choose from our wide range of pre-installed browsers.

Private Cloud

This option is similar to our public cloud environment, except it comes with additional benefits of personalized security and dedicated access. Here, we would provide you a host of devices in our enterprise grade data center and you can choose your own device. If you have a geographically distributed team, then they will have secured devices over a browser. We make sure that your data is safe on our platform, as we allow only authorized team members to access.

On-premise cloud

In this option, we provide you with the necessary hardware and give you the freedom to set up your own secure device lab. You will have complete control of your own on-premise lab.

In addition to have exactly the same features of our public cloud, on-premise model contains supplementary benefits. On-premise cloud gives you the freedom of plug-in with your existing set of devices and provides you access to a geographically distributed team. Manual and automated- both the testing techniques can be used and with a simple plug-in, you can access it from any rack. Also, there is no limit for the number of devices which can be linked!

At the end of the day, the developer has to choose the best platform for his app. But choosing the right one saves so much of hassles.

Avinash
Avinash

Avinash Tiwari is a thought leader, a recognized keynote speaker, and the co-founder of pCloudy.com. He has 15+ experience in Product development and Testing. He brings with him a passion for emerging technology and quick adoption, both of which have solidified his reputation as a leader in the mobile app testing field.

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Why it is Important to Test Your Mobile App on Different Devices?

Avinash
By Avinash
March 7, 2016
2 min Read
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Why it is Important to Test Your Mobile App on Different Devices?

Test Your Mobile App on Different Devices


The Technology involved in mobile devices is changing rapidly. Mobile phones have literally personalized the choices in our lives, experts forecast that the future devices will be the remote controls of our lives.  The services or functions are run by apps in specified platforms. And each platform has its own set of parameters to run an app. Mobile phone or device manufacturers are going through a breathtaking pace of change over the years and keeps on innovating new ways of doing things!

app

Why Apps fail?

Why Apps fail?

Why Apps fail?

Above data clearly show that handling Device fragmentation is one of the biggest challenges for App developers. Android has more fragmentation issue compared to iOS. Because the number of mobile vendors, is comparatively higher. However, even iOS faces certain amount of fragmentation issue. As there are different software versions and devices. And different devices run different iOS versions.

                            iOS versions                                           iOS versions

Mobile browsers can be challenging too! There are end numbers of browsers like Safari, Opera, Goggle Chrome and Dolphin. And each one of them has different versions for different platforms!

“So, what’s the right choice? Buying every device available in the market?”

Not necessarily, right device matrix is the key to success.

You can choose one of the two approaches to arrive at your device matrix

Device diversity Approach

  • Decide the device matrix based on key parameters like OS versions, screen size/resolution, manufacturer/device family (Android), operator, CPU, and input method
  • Objective is to maximize the variety of devices

Market segment + Device popularity approach

  •  Choose devices with the highest market share
  •  Objective is to maximize market coverage

Once you have the right device matrix, Device Cloud is the best option to get quick access to your device matrix.

As a tester, you must consider the ever increasing number of physical devices. The most important implementations should be automation, quality assurance, security and device compatibility. Also, ensure that the software scripts cover the core functionality of the application, so that it can run across all the platforms.

Avinash
Avinash

Avinash Tiwari is a thought leader, a recognized keynote speaker, and the co-founder of pCloudy.com. He has 15+ experience in Product development and Testing. He brings with him a passion for emerging technology and quick adoption, both of which have solidified his reputation as a leader in the mobile app testing field.

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April 19, 2020
What’s New In pCloudy 5.6?

pCloudy is committed to delivering the best solutions in mobile app testing and therefore we come up with product updates at regular intervals. This time we are thrilled to announce the release of pCloudy 5.6 with exciting new features to…

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April 24, 2019
5 Ways AI is Changing Test Automation

Software testing has evolved a lot since the time when the waterfall model was used. All the work was done in a sequential manner and only after the development phase was complete the testers used to test the product. Testers…

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April 12, 2019
Mobile App Testing Strategies

[xyz-ihs snippet="quickLinks-mobile-app-testing"] In the year 2020, there will be around 5.5 Billion mobile users which accounts for 70% of the world population. More mobile users mean more apps and more competition and to lead the competition we need to make…

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