One of the most common types of mobile applications is geo-location applications which have become widespread especially with the recent popularity of smartphones. One sub-category of these applications for mobile devices include GPS navigation oriented apps.

Mobile Application Testing – Do I need a driver’s license?

Of the mobile applications we test, this is the only type that we require software test engineers to have a driver’s license and several years of driving experience. Yes, mobile application testing requires a driver’s license! Sounds silly but especially in Europe, many people don’t drive! It’s also much better that the engineer be familiar with the location which needs to be tested and then to choose some typical and complex road situations to test. Here are a few points that we use when testing, but certainly not exhaustive:
1) Cross roundabout
With many entrances and exits, the application must distinguish the directions to and from each.
2) Drive on a high way
Also with many entrances and exits, speed limit changes, different directions, and different warning messages, the application must distinguish these and notify the user.
3) Drive the wrong way to a destination
The application should calculate that you are off track and show another way to go to the destination within certain thresholds, i.e. after you went the wrong way for .4 miles or 30 seconds.
4) Real-time driving conditions such as traffic jams
Some intelligent apps can receive messages (weather and traffic)and make a quick evaluation to supply an alternative route ‘in time’ which can be defined by software parameters.
5) Cross pedestrian street, park, water area (lake, sea, river, etc.), bridge, no road area.
Check that the map has displayed correctly for these special areas and all direction messages are correct.
6) Cross different countries, states, and cities.
Sometimes the application must use different map systems or files such as use map1.file and map2.file from different places, so the network connection should be suitable and careful attention is needed for crossing zones from one map file to another.

As you can see, testing mobile applications and especially GPS oriented applications requires an end-user viewpoint and very context oriented user stories. Just testing plain vanilla functionality is not enough. A lot of the “defects” we find are not necessarily functional defects but problems with user experience and usability which may not seem like a big deal but can make or break an application’s success when it comes to mobile apps.