Testing Streaming Apps, Hardware, and Platforms

Streaming is extremely popular these days, as people have become accustomed to accessing entertainment and information instantly. As WiFi and cellular data have become faster and more reliable, so too have streaming platforms, apps, and hardware. 

Testing streaming apps, hardware, and platforms can be a different experience from your average app or website testing. It’s crucial to test reliability, performance, and how well it works with other software/hardware. Read along for some key aspects of testing streaming apps, hardware, and platforms.

Streaming Growth

The growth in video streaming just in the last year demonstrates how much potential this sector has. According to the Nielsen State of Play report, the average weekly time streaming video content, in billions of minutes, had an 18% YOY increase. That’s almost 170 billion minutes of video streaming per week.

a 3d column chart demonstrating the increase in average weekly time spent streaming video content in billions of minutes, showing an +18% YOY increase from February 2021 at 143.2 to February 2022 at 169.4

In terms of platforms, Google recently revealed at their I/O Developer Conference that there are now 110 million monthly active devices, up from 80 million this time last year on Android TV OS, including Google TV.

Streaming now makes up the majority of the music industry’s revenues. According to RIAA, all combined streaming revenues grew 24% in 2021 to total $12.4 billion and accounted for 83% of total revenues.  

A girl playing a guitar and streaming herself

Streaming isn’t just limited to large corporations either, as people are often streaming themselves now; playing games, music, live-vlogging, and other various activities. Targeting these audiences requires providing a spectacular user experience.

Playback Quality

When it comes to streaming, functionality is vital for consumers. Performance needs to be tested, along with usage limits. Testing playback, pausing, rewinding/fast forwarding and features like launching, search options, and menu items ensures the baseline usability of a streaming app, hardware, or platform. If the playback quality isn’t up to acceptable standards, users are likely to lose interest or move to a different option.

Delivery

People can access many forms of entertainment at the click of a button, so providing content that can be immediately and easily accessed should be prioritized. Ideally, users will have a seamless streaming experience without any slowdowns. However, that isn’t always the case, so it’s important to test and design for instances where there is buffering and lag time.

Many streaming platforms also offer the ability to download content and view it offline. Some common test scenarios for this include testing the download speeds, the quality of the content when viewed offline, and other use-cases related to offline streaming.

A laptop open to a loading screen stuck at 25%, that says Please Wait and has a Cancel button

Localization

Online streaming is often region-based, so localization testing is needed to confirm that the language and content experience is adapting according to the region. The region a user is in is likely to impact their experience. For this reason features like data, time, linguistic accuracy, cultural appropriateness, customized symbols, and currency formats need to be verified.

Load/Network Issues

Ideally, many users will be streaming content on your app or platform at the same time, all over the world. That’s why it is important to test and improve the functionality of the app under extreme loads, low network areas, high bandwidth, network latency, and other network conditions. Simulating the experience of a busy network or a network undergoing an outage is essential for identifying bugs real users might encounter.

When we perform this testing, we use a web proxy tool to throttle connection speeds to simulate LTE, 3G or really any speed you wish. We also use in-browser developer tools to throttle in the same fashion, and test using airplane mode (APM) to get a “real-life” effect of losing network connectivity altogether.

Ensuring Security

Most streaming services offer a paid subscription option, which means that there is also a need for security testing. Paid options are available for video streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, and Hulu, along with music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, and even for gaming streaming platforms like Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass

Applications, hardware, and platforms like these often need to store account-related information, payment-related information, user information, and user data. Security testing helps validate that a user’s sensitive information is protected and cannot be accessed or compromised.

Compatibility and Integrations

Streaming occurs on multiple platforms and is often connected to other apps or devices, so it’s important to test multiple scenarios connected to devices or working with third-party integrations. 

Many users begin streaming something on their phone or laptop and then connect it to a TV or move to a different device. Users expect to continue watching something where they left off on one device when they move it to another. Ensuring that the user has a similar and seamless experience regardless of the device is crucial. 

Testing should always include multiple devices and operating systems, and performing this testing on real devices is the best way to provide a positive user experience. Here at PLUS QA, we focus our testing on real physical devices to catch bugs early in the testing phase.

A hand holding the remote to streaming hardware, with the TV and streaming service info blurred behind it.

Emphasizing Accessibility

For many forms of entertainment, like shows, movies, YouTube videos, and games, subtitles and closed captioning can be an integral part of providing an accessible experience. When delivering to a global audience, you should avoid accent-related confusion and tailor to specific languages and groups. However, synchronization issues often come up, so it’s key to not overlook testing it.

Conclusion

Streaming, in various forms, is becoming more and more prevalent in daily life. The apps, hardware, and platforms required for streaming have to be high quality in order to be able to compete.

Testing streaming means focusing factors like playback quality, delivery, localization, and load/network issues, in addition to more typical testing practices. Testing for these kinds of issues will ensure a better user experience and helps to deliver the best streaming services. 

Need help with testing? Reach out to us!

A person working on a MacBook with two smartphones and tablet next to them, testing apps on multiple devices.