May 6, 2020 Jonny Steiner

Comparing the Top 4 Android Testing Tools

The initial release of the Android Mobile operating system in 2007 revolutionized the mobile space and added a need for Android testing tools. Coming from the IT giant Google, Android quickly became a leading mobile and touch screen OS in almost no time. According to IDC, Android-powered smartphones made up 85.1% of the market in 2018. IDC opined that Android would retain its position and stand at 87.1% by 2023. Statcounter reports that Android holds a market share of 72.6% as of March 2020. The main reason for Android’s popularity is the fact that Google offered it as a free and open-source OS. As such, developers across the world were able to contribute their best to the tool. It uses a Linux-based kernel and offers wide device compatibility. Being a free OS, it enables hardware operators to release low-cost phones powered by Android.

The huge popularity of Android obviously encourages developers to create apps for Android devices. Today, the Google Play Store hosts more than 2.5 million apps and counting. The 3500+ apps added to the Play Store every day, makes Android app testing an important task for developers. There are three categories for developing Android Apps native apps, web apps and hybrid apps.

Here are the top 4 Android testing tools that will make your testing job easy and effective.

This Android testing tools review covers 4 main aspects:

  • An Overview of the Tool
  • Popularity
  • Pros and Cons
  • Who should use it?

Android Testing Tools - Appium

1) Appium

Appium is a popular cross-platform mobile testing automation tool that is dominating the mobile testing market in recent years. Sauce Labs developed it as an open-source tool. The current version is Appium 1.12. With cross-platform and cross-technology support, Appium enables developers to test native, web, and hybrid apps on Android and iOS devices. While the tool was initially designed to test mobile apps, this technology is now extended to desktops apps on windows as well. Appium is designed as an HTTP server that uses NodeJS and the JSON Wire protocol. The tool was designed with a command-line interface. However, the new Appium desktop offers a vibrant GUI to easily perform testing tasks. It offers wide coverage of test automation with device settings, gestural inputs, and different environmental conditions. It also offers immediate support to new Android and iOS releases.

Popularity: High. Appium is the most popular mobile testing tool available in the market.

Ease of use: Medium. It requires code knowledge to use and run tests.

Appium Pros and Cons

Pros:

Appium supports multiple code languages to write your tests in such as Java, Javascript, Ruby, Python, PHP, C#, and RobotFramework. It supports other platforms such as iOS and Windows. It means developers can use the same code to test Android and iOS devices. Moreover, it can test outside the target application such as sending a message, making a call, etc. The biggest strength of Appium is its large and vibrant community that offers steady support and commits. Since Appium is open-source and free, it supports real devices as well as emulators and simulators.

Cons:

Starting to test with Appium is relatively complex as you have to first download, install, and configure the settings. Android and iOS devices that are connected and available for the test are also a necessity. Moreover, you should have knowledge of object structures to use the UiAutomator and XCUITest frameworks. It is relatively slow on execution owing to the dependency on WebDriver. Moreover, it can get unstable when scaling up or running CI executions. Image recognition can be improved. It has backward compatibility issues. You have to carefully match the Android version with Appium.

Who should use it?

Appium is especially useful for QA teams that work on both Android and iOS devices. They can use the same code for both platforms with ease.

Android Testing Tools - espresso

2) Espresso

Espresso is a popular Android mobile testing framework designed for white box testing. Google released Espresso in 2013. This open-source testing framework is now available as a part of the Android Support Repository. The name ‘Espresso’ has Italian roots which means Coffee. It is a simple and flexible testing framework. It offers APIs that enable you to write UI tests.

Popularity: Coming from the IT giant Google, Espresso is highly popular among Android testing tools users.

Ease of use: Easy for developers, Medium SDET professionals

Espresso Pros and Cons

Pros:

Espresso is a free and open-source mobile testing framework. It uses a simple API that lets you to quickly write UI test cases. It is flexible to customize and easy to use. There is a minimal learning curve. It is highly scalable and flexible. Developers can easily set up the framework and begin testing. While it works well in integrated CI/CD environments, it also supports black box testing. Espresso supports JUnit4 and is backward compatible. It supports out-of-app testing too. Tests are executed with speed.

The dependency on the Hamcrest library allows testers to use matchers to test complicated scenarios. It offers support synchronization. The UI of the app is automatically synced with the test actions. It waits till activity is started before the test and activities are finished at the end of the test. Being inside the application, it thoroughly tests each element of the app. The Espresso Recorder is a handy tool to create UI tests without writing the code. It supports web component testing too.

Cons:

Espresso works on the Android platform only. Java/Kotlin are the only way to write test cases. Espresso supports out of app testing. However, out of app testing only allows black-box testing owing to the non-availability of classes outside the app. It doesn’t support test automation for contact synchronization and push notifications. You cannot move from another app to the app being tested.

Who should use it?

For developers who use a single framework and want to test native Android apps, Espresso does a good job. They can integrate testing into the development lifecycle and effectively perform white box testing.

Android Testing Tools - uiautomator

3) UiAutomator

UiAutomator is a mobile testing framework offered by Google as a part of Android SDK Manager. It enables you to perform cross-app UI functional testing on apps and across the system. UiAutomator is designed to efficiently perform black-box testing and comes with a UI Automator Viewer that offers a GUI view of the UI components. It offers APIs for cross-app testing and retrieves state information. It supports Java and Kotlin programming languages to write test code.

Popularity: Low

Ease of use: Medium

UiAutomator Pros and Cons

Pros:

Being a part of the Android SDK, UiAutomator is easy to set up and use. Using simple APIs, you can easily perform tasks. Interacting with system components and hardware buttons is easy. The test speed is medium when compared to Espresso and Appium. The Ui Automator Viewer gives a graphical view of UI components which makes it easy to view components on the device. You can directly work with UI elements. Good documentation and tutorials are available.

Cons:

It supports only Java/Kotlin. The web view is not supported. UiAutomator requires Android 4.3 and above, SDK version 21 or above, and API version 16 or higher. Working with lists using the API is a complicated process.

Who should use it?

It is better suited for black-box testing wherein internal implementation details are not available. If you are testing more than one app, UiAutomator can be used.

android app testing - robotium

4) Robotium

Robotium is an open-source test automation framework for native and hybrid mobile apps. Renas Reda developed Robotium to effectively perform grey-box testing. This means that you can test apps with source code or with apk files. It is like a Selenium-version for mobile testing.

Popularity: Low

Ease of use: Medium

Robotium Pros & Cons

Pros:

Robotium is open-source and free. It is easy and quick to write and run tests. It is suitable for grey box testing which means minimal knowledge of the app is enough to test it. Minimal code means less time to write and run tests. It automatically tests multiple devices simultaneously. Run time is faster. Robotium integrates well with Gradle, Maven, Ant and supports automatic delays, timings and views. Tests are binding to UI components in run-time which means the tests are reliable. It offers Robotium Recorder that can record test cases quickly.

Cons:

Robotium cannot simultaneously test multiple applications. It doesn’t support web components and Flash. Notification handling of mobile devices is not possible. It cannot pull and open a notification. The screenshot feature is not available. Inconsistent failure handling is a challenge.

Who should use it?

Robotium is best suited for performing grey box testing with minimal information about the app.

Once you have chosen your Android Testing Tools

The next step is where we at Experitest come in. The SeeTest Continuous Testing Platform integrates with all of the Android testing tools listed above. From standard automation drivers to native mobile testing frameworks, and mobile app development tools we offer you a way to execute hundreds of web and mobile application tests in parallel across multiple real Android and desktop environments. Take a free trial now and see for yourself.

Jonny SteinerContent Manager