As a developer, you are expected to make sure that your app or game will perform as advertised on multiple devices that the client is targeting.
Best Mobile Testing Tools Are Simulators Emulators and Real Devices
You will have to conduct a ton of research and cross-checking to see how your app or video game will look and perform across a variety of devices.
When it comes to testing your work, the three main options you have are simulators, emulators, or real devices. How do you choose which option is best for your needs? Guest author Michelle Thomas takes a closer look at the relative strengths and weaknesses of each option below to help you gain more insight into what works best and what does not. Learn more about Michelle Thomas.
A real device is simply a device available to all consumers. For instance, if you are working on an online casino project with a mobile component, any consumer-ready smartphone or tablet can be considered a real device.
If you have a special free spins bonus you want to implement for users of Apple devices, for example, you can use a bevy of Apple devices to check, one by one, whether the devices will trigger your Apple-only bonus.
Testing your app or game with a real device gives you the best “real world” testing environment. Because you will be controlling the device by yourself, you can easily get a sense of how your project looks and feels on the devices consumers will be handling them with.
The obvious downside of using real devices is that it can get expensive quite fast. With so many mobile device models available, using one of each to test features of your app or game can lead to your testing costs ballooning. Testing with real devices is also more time-intensive and can lead to more delays, especially if you have a smaller test team.
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If you are a smaller developer, going with real devices is clearly a no-go. If you’re looking for something cheaper, you might consider emulators.
Emulators are virtual testing tools that transpose a specific software or hardware configuration into a computer, where you will be able to run the emulator.
Emulators give developers access to multiple devices at once. For example, if you are looking to develop a multi-player video game, using an emulator can help you test your game on several devices. You can emulate different mobile devices to get a sense of how your game will look and feel on specific devices.
Emulators are also much cheaper than real devices, with many emulators being offered for free online. These are a great way for smaller developers to conduct extensive tests and checks on a smaller budget or a tighter schedule.
The downside of using emulators is that they don’t provide the exact experience of an end-user. There might be times where your game should work perfectly given a device’s Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), which you can test on an emulator.
But because the ISA can be influenced by a host of factors that can be found in real devices, your end-user might have a different experience than the one you tested on emulators.
Simulators are similar to emulators, in that they are a virtual testing tool. Generally, they focus more on iOS devices, in contrast to Android devices, where emulators are much more popular.
Simulators come with the same positives as emulators. They are cheaper and easier to test on compared to real devices but can output different results from those obtained through real devices.
While testing with a simulator is often enough to get a sense of whether something will work, there is no guarantee that it will work without bugs in a consumer device.
What Should You Choose?
Clearly, testing your apps and games on real devices is the best option in a perfect world. But this option comes with tons of extra costs, both in terms of money and time. Smaller developers would be well-advised to start out with simulators and emulators and use real devices once they have enough of a budget to do so.
If you are new to the industry and are taking on a client, make sure you factor in the price and time involved with the testing process. We suggest you prepare a testing methodology document and get the client to sign off on the budget so that you have funds at your disposal. If you are developing it on your own, then we suggest you choose one of the options we have listed above that works best with your game or app.