The basics of Android test automation

basics of android test automation

16 September 2022 Leave a comment Test automation

Is your current testing process taking away from the time you would rather spend developing more apps? Are you looking for a suitable tool for automated Android testing?

To optimize test automation for your Android apps, some basic knowledge about Android test automation and relevant tools is crucial. Different projects require different tools for proper test automation.

In this article, we have a look at the Android test automation field: What is Android test automation? How to optimize test automation of Android apps? And what are relevant tools?

What is Android test automation?

Before we start, let’s clarify a basic question: What exactly is Android automated testing?

There are two main types of testing: manual and automated.

  • In manual testing, you have to execute test cases by yourself without the use of tools or scripts.
  • In automated testing, however, you will use testing tools and scripts.

Both of the testing types come with their specific benefits and use case. Long story short:

Manual testing relies on human intuition for usability and design, making it cost-effective for smaller projects and allowing simulation of real-world scenarios. However, it is time-consuming, subjective, and less scalable for complex apps.

In contrast, automated testing offers speed and efficiency for repetitive and regression tests, ensuring consistent results and scalability across devices and scenarios. Yet, it demands time-consuming setup and ongoing maintenance, lacks human insight for subtle issues, and may struggle with changing app features.

We’ve prepared an in-depth discussion of automated testing and manual testing in case you’re interested in the details of both methods.

What are the benefits of automated Android testing?

In any case, mobile app testing ensures that the app functions as intended and provides a positive user experience. It helps identify and rectify issues, such as usability problems, bugs, crashes, and performance bottlenecks, before they reach users, thereby enhancing the app’s reliability and user satisfaction.

The main benefits of automated Android test automation are:

  • Speed: Automated tests are much faster than manual tests.
  • Repetition: When test cases are run many times and over longer periods of time, automated testing becomes more practical.
  • Reliability: More reliable for tests that have to be done repeatedly since the process is done the same way each time.
  • Accuracy: Reliability means that there are less chances of inaccuracy due to human error.

Overall, automating testing will save you energy and resources, whilst at the same time providing a better outcome.

When to use automated Android testing?

Automated Android testing becomes indispensable in several key scenarios:

  • Repetitive Tasks: Automated testing is particularly valuable when tasks need to be executed repeatedly. Instead of manually repeating the same tests, automation allows for efficiency and consistency in executing tests consistently.
  • Regression Testing: As Android app code often undergoes frequent changes during development, regression testing with automation is crucial. Automated tests can quickly verify that new code changes haven’t introduced unintended issues or broken existing functionality.
  • Performance Testing: For assessing how an app performs under real-world conditions with a large user base, automated testing is essential. It allows you to simulate thousands of users interacting with the app simultaneously, evaluating its responsiveness and stability.
  • Load Testing: To determine how well an app handles varying levels of user load, automated load testing is vital. It helps assess how the app behaves under different scenarios, including high data traffic, various user locations, and slower mobile network speeds.

Thus, automated Android testing is most effective when dealing with repetitive tasks, frequent code changes (regression testing), performance evaluation under heavy user load, and assessing how the app copes with varying levels of stress (load testing). It not only enhances efficiency but also ensures the reliability and scalability of Android apps.

In contrast, manual Android testing is the preferred choice for Android app testing in scenarios where human intuition, usability evaluation, adaptability to frequent changes, and specific or resource-constrained situations are crucial. It’s particularly useful for exploratory testing, UX assessment, and early development stages. However, automated testing becomes more efficient for repetitive and large-scale testing tasks, offering consistency and scalability. A balanced approach, combining both manual and automated testing, is often the most effective strategy for comprehensive Android app testing.

In summary, it’s usually not an either-or question, but rather a question of an efficient mix. Automating Android testing can be a useful addition to manual testing and make your testing process more holistic.

Getting started with Android test automation

Starting with test automation for Android involves a strategic approach and adhering to some key guidelines. Here’s how you can make the most of automated testing for Android apps:

Understand Your App

Before diving into test automation, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of the app you’re testing. Not all apps are suitable for automation. Assess the app’s complexity, functionality, and usage patterns. Identify areas that would benefit the most from automation, such as critical user flows, frequently changing features, or scenarios that require extensive testing.

Define Test Requirements

Clearly define the requirements for your automated tests. Determine what aspects of the app you want to test, such as functionality, performance, or compatibility. Specify the devices, screen sizes, and Android OS versions you need to cover. Having well-defined requirements ensures that your automated tests align with your project’s goals.

Select the Right Tools

Research and choose the automation tools and frameworks that best match your project’s requirements. Consider factors like ease of scripting, support for testing different Android versions, and integration with your development environment. Popular tools like Appium, Espresso, and UI Automator offer various features and capabilities, so select the one that suits your needs.

Create a Comprehensive Test Suite

Develop a well-structured test suite that covers a range of test cases, including positive and negative scenarios. Prioritize tests based on criticality and potential impact on users. Maintain test scripts and keep them up-to-date as the app evolves.

Implement Continuous Integration (CI)

Integrate automated tests into your CI/CD pipeline to ensure that tests are run automatically with each code change. This helps catch issues early in the development process, reducing the likelihood of introducing bugs.

As a kickstart into the topic, you can check out our short guide on the best mobile CI/CD tools.

Conduct Parallel Testing

To save time and increase test coverage, run tests in parallel on multiple devices and emulators. This approach can significantly reduce the overall testing time.

Manage Test Data

Efficiently manage test data to ensure consistent and reliable test results. Use data-driven testing techniques to cover various data scenarios, and consider using test data generation tools.

Practice Regular Maintenance

Automated tests require ongoing maintenance to adapt to changes in the app. As the app evolves, update test scripts, handle new features, and adjust test cases to remain relevant.

Reporting and Analysis

Implement reporting mechanisms that provide detailed insights into test results. Analyze test reports to identify trends, recurring issues, and areas that require attention.


By following these guidelines and considering the app’s specifics, requirements, and suitable tools, you can optimize test automation for Android effectively. This approach enhances the efficiency and reliability of your testing efforts and contributes to the overall quality of your Android app.

What are the best test automation tools for Android?

Selecting the right test automation tools for Android is a crucial decision in the software development process. With a myriad of options available, it’s essential to identify the tools that align with your project’s specific requirements and objectives.

There are manifold tools out there that you can use for Android test automation; here’s a shortlist:

  • Repeato
  • Appium
  • Robotium
  • Calabash
  • Selendroid
  • UI Automator
  • Espresso
  • MonkeyRunner

Each of these tools comes with its own pros, cons, potentials, and challenges.

In this guide on Android test automation frameworks, we explore some of the best test automation tools for Android, highlighting their features and capabilities to help you make an informed choice for your testing needs.

The best tips and tricks: How to optimize test automation on Android?

Now that you’re prepared for a smooth start, here are some advanced tips to make testing even smoother.

  • Test early and often: It’s a good idea to start testing early on in the development of the project, even testing smaller parts. Not only does testing more frequently help you find more bugs, but the bugs found early in the production process are also cheaper to fix.
  • Create good test data: Having quality test data can help with data-driven automated testing. This data is usually stored in an external file and is used to fill input fields during an automated test. Having quality test data can make it easier to write automated tests.
  • Use accessibility IDs: Setting accessibility IDs on your elements makes testing go much smoother.
  • Design app with testing in mind: Make the app testable while it is being built. If you are a developer, coordinate with the testing team for guidelines.
  • Use real devices: Although testing on emulators and simulators is not a bad thing as they emulate a real device, it is better to test your app on a real device. This way you make sure that your app is compatible with its software and hardware.

Key take aways: What you need to know about Android test automation

Android test automation can be an essential factor of building flawless apps.

  • Android test automation can significantly improve the efficiency and reliability of your app testing process.
  • It helps to automate tedious manual testing processes, saves developers time and assures better app quality.
  • Careful consideration of your app’s complexity and requirements is essential before deciding to automate tests.
  • Selecting the right test automation tools and frameworks that match your project’s needs is crucial.
  • Continuous integration (CI) integration, parallel testing, and efficient test data management can enhance your Android test automation strategy.

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