Software testing services have changed since websites are no longer the main attraction on the internet. As the years went by, QA testing services started focusing on web apps since they’re ready to use across multiple devices, not just the average computer. 

Web apps are websites turned into applications, accessible using browsers without prior downloading. You can perform various tasks using web apps, from ordering food online to sending emails. Gmail and Google Docs are typical examples of web apps

After the birth of web apps and the rise of mobile devices, another type of app emerged to keep up with user demands. This article will explain the difference between web and mobile apps, along with testing tools for every kind of app.

Web apps versus Mobile apps

The main difference between web and mobile platforms is how they were built and the design paradigms used. 

While web apps are cross-platform, some apps have been developed to function on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Compared to web apps, mobile apps either come preinstalled or must be downloaded before use. Their functionality and usability are checked through mobile app testing services. Apart from the web app, which can also function on mobile devices as a mobile web app, there are two main types of mobile apps:

→ native apps: designed for a specific mobile device and its operating system

→ hybrid apps: take on characteristics from the native apps yet are usable regardless of the mobile device and operating system

The Features of web apps versus mobile apps:

Now that we have explained the origin of web and mobile apps and their specific usability, let’s move on to understanding the functionality of their features, advantages, disadvantages, and differences. 

Web apps’ features mimic the website they originated from, with a smartphone or tablet-friendly interface. All it takes is a mobile device with an internet connection. More importantly, no installation is required, and they function regardless of the platform’s operating system. No specific browser or different software versions are required. 

Despite the multiple platform usability and the updated versions of websites, web apps come with their disadvantages. They may encounter the same issues as their website; with updates, the size of the web app increases, causing significant performance issues. Being dependent on the website, the web app may malfunction in case of issues or maintenance. Internet connection is also indispensable for using it.

The features of mobile apps are tailored and limited for the purpose of each app. For example, a gaming app will only function within the specifics of the said game. A native app will only work for Android or iOS. Hybrid apps are similar to native app design but with lower maintenance costs. However, making an app available across multiple platforms can cause lag and performance issues. 

Performing tests on web apps and mobile apps

The QA tester has to ensure that an application is user-friendly, thus undergoing several types of testing beforehand: functional testing, usability testing, compatibility testing, performance testing, recovery testing, localization testing, certification testing, and so on. Both web and mobile apps undergo the same testing processes.

The difference in testing web and mobile apps starts with their particular features concerning user interaction, Internet connection, compatibility, and security.

—> user interaction:  actions on a web app can easily be done with a mouse and a keyboard, while a mobile app requires more tactile movements to interact with it. In a mobile game, a user simultaneously performs rapid swipe actions and rapid clicking that need to be checked for lag or proper response. Other apps include voice commands. All these extra features must be tested before the app becomes available to the users.

—> internet connection: while web apps depend on an active internet connection, some mobile apps include the offline mode in their native or hybrid form, which needs testing.

—> compatibility: Web and mobile apps require testing against different browsers. Unlike web apps, their mobile counterparts need specific devices: a native app for Android or iOS can only be tested on its particular device. Additionally, all mobile apps come with specifications and requirements depending on their functionality: the size of an app can determine if a user can download it on their devices, or its performance can be affected by the characteristics of a particular device. 

→security: before launching an app, security testing ensures that there are no vulnerabilities exploitable by attackers, resulting in exposure and data loss for the users.

Tools for web app and mobile app testing

So far, we have concluded that web and mobile apps can undergo similar tests, but once we narrow it down to their features, the QA team handles each type of app using tailored tools.

Tools for Web App Testing

The most common tool used in web app testing is Selenium. Selenium is an open-source, automation testing framework compatible with multiple programming languages, with the option to record scripts for further testing. It can run tests on different browsers and operating systems, a feature necessary for web apps that are available regardless of browser or operating system. Other tools in addition to Selenium can be used: WebLoad, Acunetix, and TestIQ.

Tools for Mobile App Testing

As we mentioned in our article, Appium is one of the best automation testing tools for mobile app testing. This Selenium-based tool was developed particularly for testing apps running on mobile devices, as well as offering the option of testing on the device itself. This tool is compatible with Android and iOS devices without changing the code structure. Apart from Appium, here is a list of other mobile app testing tools.

Testing web apps and mobile apps: which tool to choose? 

In this article, we covered the definitions, features, and tools specific for each type of app, but ultimately the choice of tool depends on the app itself and the nature of the project. Luckily, several tools are available to aid testers in their bug-hunting quests.

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