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Native vs. Hybrid Apps: Testing Methods and Challenges

Naman Upadhyay
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Naman Upadhyay
  • Mar 6, 2024
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    7 min read
Native vs. Hybrid Apps: Testing Methods and Challenges
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In this blog, we will learn together about characteristics, challenges, how one is different from another, and best practices for testing native and hybrid apps.

How is testing native apps different from hybrid apps?

Firstly, understand the difference between testing native and hybrid apps; both mobile apptesting has some similarities and some differences in terms of testing.

  • For native, we test platform-specific; for hybrid, we test cross-platform.
  • For native, we test device features; for hybrid, we test web technologies.
  • For native, we test user interface and interaction diversity; for hybrid, we test user interface and interaction uniformity.
  • For native, we test network connectivity and security issues; for hybrid, we test web browser dependency.
  • For native, we test platform standards and guidelines; for hybrid, we test fewer restrictions.

What is a Native application?

Native applications are software programs that are developed for use on a particular platform or device. Because they are built specifically for that platform, they can interact with and take advantage of operating system features and other software that is typically installed on that platform.

Characteristics of native applications

Native apps are built using platform-specific programming languages such as Swift for iOS and Java or Kotlin for Android. The main characteristic of a native app is its speed and performance.

Challenges of testing a native application

Let’s get a look at the different types of challenges a tester faces while testing an app exclusive to native.

  • Native device diversity
    Native applications are designed to run on specific platforms and devices, which means they have to be tested on a variety of hardware and software combinations.
  • Frequent updates
    Native apps have the nature of getting frequent updates to adapt to the changing requirements and expectations of their users. Testers will have to test with agility.
  • Extra efforts for native features
    Native applications may have different user interfaces and interactions depending on the device and platform, which requires extra effort in testing usability and consistency.
  • Low network conditions
    Testers need to verify that the Native app can work offline or with low connectivity and that the data transmission is secure.
  • Compliance with guidelines
    Native apps have to comply with the standards and guidelines of the platform providers. Testers need to ensure that the app meets the criteria and requirements of the app store and that it does not violate any policies or regulations.

Let’s tackle these native app testing challenges!

  • Testing on a combination of native devices
    Use cloud-based testing platforms that provide access to a wide range of real mobile devices, allowing you to test your app on different hardware and software combinations. Automate testing frameworks like Appium, Espresso, and XCUITest for testing on multiple devices at the same time.
  • Keeping up with updates
    Implement continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. Tools like Jenkins, CircleCI, or GitLab CI can automate the regression testing process, ensuring that your app is tested quickly and efficiently with every update.
  • Automate with native-specific tools
    Tools like Espresso (for Android) and XCUITest (for iOS) are designed specifically for native app testing. They provide access to native user interfaces and interactions, which can help in testing usability and consistency.
  • Low network testing
    Simulate network conditions using tools that come with native development environments, such as Network Link Conditioner in Xcode for iOS and the emulator settings in Android Studio for Android. These tools will help you simulate various network speeds and conditions.
  • Following guidelines
    Familiarize yourself with the app guidelines of the platform providers, like Applie’s App Store Review Guidelines and Google’s Developer Policy Center. Use static analysis tools like Android Lint or SwiftLint to automatically check your code against certain guidelines and rules.

Note: Regularly review and update your understanding of the guidelines, as they can change frequently.

What is a Hybrid application?

Hybrid applications are essentially a blend of native apps and web apps. As such, they can run on various platforms, just like web apps, but they have access to native platform features.

Characteristics of hybrid applications

Hybrid apps are built using web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and then wrapped in a native container that allows them to be installed and run on different platforms.

Challenges of testing hybrid apps

Now let’s take a look at the different types of challenges QA enthusiasts face while testing hybrid apps.

  • Display inconsistency
    Cross-platform availability of devices and operating systems brings in a wide range of device screen sizes, making it a challenge to ensure a consistent look and feel for the app.
  • Performance issues 
    Hybrid apps can sometimes face performance issues such as load times or constant crashing due to the extra layer (the web view) they use to run the web technologies.
  • Updates to Web View Components
    Both iOS and Android periodically update their web view components. These updates can introduce changes that break certain features in a hybrid app.
  • Memory management
    Hybrid apps can have memory leaks or performance issues due to the differences in memory management between the web view and the native layer.
  • Plugin compatibility
    Hybrid apps use plugins to interact with native features. These plugins may not always be up-to-date or may not work consistently across all platforms.

Let’s tackle these hybrid app testing challenges! Now that we’ve seen the testing challenges for testing a hybrid application, let’s see how we can cover these challenges through testing.

  • Data consistency
    To ensure a consistent look and feel of the app across multiple platforms and screen sizes, use visual testing tools like Applitools to automatically compare the app’s appearance across different devices and screen sizes.
  • Addressing performance issues
    To address performance issues such as load times or constant crashing, use profiling tools to identify performance issues in the app. Tools like Chrome DevTools can help with this. Also, simulate high loads to see how the app performs under stress.
    If you are a beginner performance tester, I recommend you check out our Performance Testing Beginners blog.
  • Keeping up with the updates
    To manage issues related to updates in web view components, perform regular regression testing to ensure existing features still work as expected. Using automated testing tools can regularly test your app and catch issues early.
  • Addressing memory-related issues
    To address memory management issues, use memory profiling tools to identify memory leaks or excessive memory usage. Android Studio’s Profiler and Xcode’s Instruments tool provide detailed memory usage information.

You can also use tools like LeakCanary on Android. Here’s a basic setup:

// In your Application class
@Override public void onCreate() {
  super.onCreate();
  if (LeakCanary.isInAnalyzerProcess(this)) {
    return;
  }
  LeakCanary.install(this);
}
Copied!
  • Ensuring plugin functionality
    To ensure plugins work as expected across all platforms, regularly test the plugins. Using automated testing tools can regularly test your app and catch compatibility issues early.

Comparison and contrast similarities between Native and Hybrid apps

Let’s summarize the similarities and comparisons between native and hybrid applications in table format.

Development Aspect

Aspect Native Mobile App Hybrid Mobile App
Development Made for a specific platform or device. Made as native app with a web browser embedded.
Installation Installed from an app store, such as Google Play or Apple App Store. Also installed from an app store, but the same app can be installed on different platforms.
Performance Better performance, taking advantage of the latest technology. Performance depends on the speed of the user’s browser.
Compatibility Designed for either iOS or Android. Designed to be compatible with multiple platforms, iOS, Android, Windows, etc.
Maintenance Usually gets regular updates and maintenance. Easier to maintain since the updates can be synchronized across all platforms.
Time to Market The full development cycle for each platform can be time-consuming. Hybrid apps allow for quicker development and deployment across multiple platforms.

Quality Assurance Aspect

Aspect Native Mobile App Hybrid Mobile App
Testing Scope The entire QA focus is on a specific platform or device type. Testing needs to cover multiple platforms and devices.
Installation Testing Verify successful installation from app stores. Verifying that the app installs correctly on all platforms.
Performance Testing Assess performance on a specific platform. Evaluate performance across various browsers.
Compatibility Testing Ensure the app’s compatibility with the intended platform. Confirm the app’s compatibility across multiple platforms.
Maintenance Testing Check updates and maintenance for each platform. Verify that updates sync across all platforms.
Time to Test Longer test cycle. Shorter test cycle.

Tools and technologies for testing Native and Hybrid apps

Here are a few of the fan-favourite testing tools that are being used worldwide for mobile testing.

  1. Appium
  2. Espresso
  3. XCUITest
  4. EarlGrey
  5. UI Automator
  6. KIF (keep it functional)

Conclusion

We hope you found our Native vs. Hybrid Apps blog informative. In this blog, we have discussed the differences between native and hybrid apps, their characteristics, and their testing methods and challenges. We have seen that native apps are developed for specific platforms, offer better performance and user experience, but require more resources and skills to test.

On the other hand, hybrid apps are cross-platform and easier to develop and test, but they have lower quality and compatibility issues.
We have also compared and contrasted the similarities and differences between native and hybrid apps in terms of development and quality assurance aspects.

If you are looking for a reliable and experienced mobile testing service provider with polished App testing methods, look no further. Contact Alphabin today.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key differences in testing native and hybrid applications?
FAQ ArrowFAQ Minus Arrow

Native applications are developed for specific platforms using platform-specific programming languages, which means they can fully utilize the device’s hardware and software capabilities. Testing native apps often requires platform-specific tools and emulators. 

Hybrid applications, on the other hand, are part web and part native apps. They are built using web technologies and wrapped in a native container, allowing them to run on multiple platforms. Testing hybrid apps may involve both web-based testing tools and native app testing tools to ensure functionality across different platforms.

What are the critical factors to consider when automating tests for native and hybrid apps?
FAQ ArrowFAQ Minus Arrow
  • Native Apps Automation:
    • Selection of appropriate tools like Espresso for Android or XCTest for iOS.
    • Integration with device-specific features and sensors.
    • Ensuring the automation framework can handle platform updates and changes.
  • Hybrid Apps Automation:
    • Ensuring the automation framework can interact with both native elements and webview components.
    • Dealing with synchronization issues between the app’s native and web parts.
    • Adapting tests to work across multiple platforms and devices due to the hybrid nature of the app.
How is security testing approached differently for native and hybrid apps?
FAQ ArrowFAQ Minus Arrow

Security testing for native apps focuses on platform-specific vulnerabilities and secure use of device capabilities. For hybrid apps, security testing also includes the webview components, checking for vulnerabilities common to web applications, such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and insecure data storage.

How do the testing methodologies for native and hybrid applications differ?
FAQ ArrowFAQ Minus Arrow
  • Native Applications:some text
    • Require platform-specific testing tools and environments.
    • Focus on device hardware utilization and OS features.
    • Emphasize performance, security, and user experience tailored to the platform.
  • Hybrid Applications:some text
    • Necessitate testing in both native and webview contexts.
    • Involve cross-platform compatibility checks.
    • Include challenges related to the performance of web components within the app.

About the author

Naman Upadhyay

Naman Upadhyay

Naman Upadhyay, a proficient QA Engineer at Alphabin, excels in Python and React, proficiently managing diverse projects.

Known for his precision-driven approach, he delivers high-quality software solutions.

More about the author

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