The Challenges of IoT Testing

Connected objects are part of our everyday life. We use them in our pocket, in our car, on public transportation, in our home, and at work. The market of IoT is growing extremely fast every year and is forecasted to reach $772.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 15% compared to 2017.

Large technology companies such as Amazon and Google invaded our houses this past year with devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Besides those large companies, thousands of small firms and startups create connected objects and mobile applications every year, and one of their challenges is to make sure their app will work across all the different devices and in all possible user environments.

Image source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2017/12/10/2017-roundup-of-internet-of-things-forecasts/#6bdbbda61480

 

In this post, we cover what areas of your app you need to consider testing prior to going to market.

 

Testing for functionality & device compatibility

One of the most critical steps during testing is to make sure that your app works as designed. You want to make sure you test it across various devices and operating system versions. You also need to consider the real world environment and make that part of your test plan. Testing in the lab is great for validating functional requirements based on a project requirement document, but testing in the real world is the best way to discover issues the end user might discover once they use the application or the object in a real environment.

If you are interested in reading about testing on Android and iOS devices feel free to check out our latest blog post about top devices for Android testing in 2018 and top devices for iOS testing in 2018.

If you define your list of devices you will support at the beginning of the product development process make sure to keep an eye out for any new and upcoming operating systems and devices. Some of the features in a new operating system or a device could impact how your application will work and could affect the user experience. With the new iPhone X for example, Apple’s facial recognition opened the gate to biometric solutions and this should be democratized across many mobile devices in the coming years.

If you want accurate results when testing the functionalities and device compatibility of your apps, it is best to do it through manual testing and on real devices.

 

Network and connectivity testing

Connectivity testing can take place side by side with your functional tests. There are different ways to test the connectivity of your app and smart object.

The first step a user will take when using a new device at home will be pairing. A speaker, a thermostat or any other smart object has to go through pairing. This typically needs to be done across the list of devices you want to support. If you test pairing via Bluetooth, for example, you want to check how much time it takes to connect and the behavior of the devices when they interact with each other.

Some of the test scenarios you want to consider will be the error message displayed to the user and how they are supposed to navigate the app if they experience an issue.

 

REAL-TIME DATA TESTING

Connectivity testing can be done in the lab but you will also need to plan on testing the behavior of the app and the smart object to account for areas with poor network signal such as in a basement or in a location in your house or car without any network.

To quickly recap, be sure to test all the different workflows of your app on various networks and environments and consider the user experience if the performance of the app is affected and how the user will be guided through the app.

 

IoT usability testing

While we described some things to consider during the functionality, connectivity and compatibility testing of your app,  many companies also do usability testing. Sharing your app with dozens or hundreds of users before shipping a product will provide valuable information from real end-users. Some of that can be done by your QA team, however, a group of beta testers focused on the usability of the app is also very helpful and in most cases will add value to your product. It’s also a good idea to understand how the people will interact with your object and fix any issues prior to sending it to thousands or millions of users.

 

Conclusion

At PLUS QA we enjoy testing smart objects. It requires understanding all functional specifications about the project and being thorough during testing. It also gives freedom to testers to experience and test apps in different ways. Over the years we have tested a large number of connected objects: from sleep monitoring devices, to sports connected objects, microphones, smartwatches and smart objects dedicated to the car industry.

The market of IoT is very diverse and has seen significant growth in the past few years. This year Amazon Echo and Google Home took the spotlight at CES 2018.

Many industries are affected by IoT: automotive, pharmaceutical, sports… Before you release an application consider doing some proper Quality Assurance testing on it, and look at the different options available to have usability testing done by real users. A great product needs to work well and appeal to the end user.

 

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