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Multi-Device Testing is the Future. Are You Ready?

Multi-device testing presents a major challenge for modern testers. How can you be sure that your app excels across each device type?

It’s no secret that multi-device testing is a must today. If only modern application development were as easy as developing for a single experience. Remember desktop applications? Well, that’s not the case anymore, and it’s a good thing (for the consumer, anyway!).

More devices to choose from, more formats, more versions, and more screens. However users choose to interact with your mobile application, you’d better be prepared to meet them there, or they might leave you altogether.

It’s not 2006 anymore. Your application needs to work on every device, every time. And the only way that happens is by making sure you are prioritizing multi-device testing.

In this post, we dive into the growing topic of multi-device usage and the challenges and benefits of adopting multi-device testing into your strategy.

Navigating a multi-device landscape

Imagine this: You’re in line at the grocery store. It’s a long line. So, you figure you’ll make the most of your air and pay a bill you’ve been putting off.  You pull up the company’s website on your phone but have to create an account.

The line moves along.

You create an account, and fill out your email, first name, last name, billing address, and so on. You get to where you’re supposed to pay, but you’re instructed to download the app to add banking information.

Annoyed, you begin downloading the app, but you’re not getting any data in this grocery store.

So you give up.

If you’re the user, you’re annoyed. If you’re the company, you’ve got a cash flow problem.

Nobody wins here.

It’s hard to quantify exactly, but it’s safe to assume that a large population interacts with multiple devices on a daily basis. Some estimate more than 40% of online adults are multi-device users. As the device pool grows larger and larger, organizations are scrambling to deliver a seamless experience across devices. 

Think about how you interact with mobile applications. It’s usually not over a long period on a single device. An iPhone on the subway, an iPad at home, a Galaxy Note for work, a desktop for gaming, and a Nook before bed. With mobile devices expected to reach 18 billion by 2025, it’s safe to say that the percentage of individuals who regularly interact with multiple devices on a given day is notable—and only likely to increase.

Users expect a seamless experience

This concept of a seamless experience is clearly important here and deserves a closer look. The Neilson Norman group published a collection of articles that outlines five key elements of the usable omnichannel experience: Seamless, optimized, orchestrated, collaborative, and consistent. They define seamless as:

…a journey where the transitions (or handoffs) from one channel to the next involve zero or minimal overhead for the users. If you can pick up where you left off, the user experience will be seamless. But if users have to reestablish their contexts or redo work when switching to a new channel, the experience will feel bumpy…

Users want a multi-device experience without hiccups. Users expect these devices to work together wherever they go and with minimal disruption—they expect their app experience to be seamless. It’s no longer acceptable for organizations to cobble together a string of workable solutions.

Instead, organizations are tasked with creating a consistent experience with any device. Most importantly, users need to be able to complete tasks efficiently with whatever device they’re on, which is as equally as beneficial to a user as it is for the organization.

What is a bad multi-device experience?

Many things get in the way of a positive multi-device experience. Let’s talk about some of the worst offenders:

  • Loss of functionality between devices: One thing works on one device but isn’t accessible on another.
  • Inconsistent UI between devices: Navigation is different. The user has to go one place on a browser and another on the mobile app or the workflows change considerably between devices.
  • Workflow size: Can users start and finish a task or transaction in one sitting or do they typically have to pick up where they left off?
  • Bugs: Things work on one device but are broken on another.

Any of these poor experiences can send your users to the competitor—and if you’ve got all of these going on at once, you can be sure that it’s negatively impacting the reception of your app in a major way.

Image: Sofy x Bacho, Shutterstock

More devices, more tests

The fragmented landscape of devices and operating systems makes it challenging to test mobile applications. There are already so many devices out there and more hit the market every year. Tests must be efficient—and quick—so that issues may be resolved before more pile up.

But how do you keep up with testing? You have a few options:


Simulators mimic the behavior of a mobile device, but not the hardware or configurations. In turn, simulators can be a quick and effective way to discover blatant UI and experience issues but fall short with more detailed tests. Tools like Xcode provide simulators for testers to use.


Emulators allow you to quickly render a device’s look and feel without actually having access to a real device. They’re cost-effective and they’re used with many testing frameworks like Appium and Espresso.

The challenge is, while they are great at providing a near-accurate representation of a device, they can never fully replicate them. Emulators aren’t as good at replicating things like CPU, network traffic, and hardware like GPS, gyro, and cameras. 

That also leaves another concern – translating test scripts to work across multiple devices. Even if you’re dealing with a sophisticated test automation platform, you still have to make sure your tests work on every device. This usually means separate test cases that need to be managed.

Multi-device testing on a real device

Let’s be real here: The best way to test is with a real device. It makes the most sense that the closest you’ll get to the real thing is the real thing. At the end of the day, all other approaches are imitations of the real thing. Unfortunately, this has historically been off the table for most teams due to the simple fact that operating a real device lab is expensive, time-consuming, and complex.

An important question

If you could run your suite of tests across nearly every mobile device in existence, how would that improve the quality of your product?

The challenge is, devices are expensive and proliferating like crazy. How do you stay ahead? You can’t purchase all of them. Even if you could, how would you store them, manage their updates, continually configure environments, and run tests?

With Sofy.

Sofy empowers you to easily leverage real devices to perform detailed and sophisticated multi-device tests, all without writing a single line of code. 

  • Grab a real device, perform a manual test, and automate it.
  • Access a library of cloud-based real devices on the real device lab. Every time you acquire a new device, it comes with a clean and prepared environment with your app already installed.
  • Record a test once and automate it across hundreds of devices
  • Record real-time issues and collaborate with your team to work on resolving them.
  • Analyze code changes to detect impacts on existing test suite and automatically make updates
  • Integrate seamlessly with your CI/CD tool for upstream improvements

With a no-code test automation tool like Sofy, you can substantially cut costs, save time, and most importantly, deploy a better app. Read how we helped Microsoft reduce their testing cycle from five days to just four hours

Future-proofing your release cycle with multi-device testing

Organizations no longer get to dictate the ways users interact with their technology. Multi-device usage will continue to increase and the market will grow with it. Organizations need to provide a seamless, consistent, bug-free experience across multiple devices, or else their competitors will. The only way to do it is through multi-device testing. If you want to scale your testing without scaling your resources, the best way to do it is with Sofy.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed above are those of the contributor and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official beliefs or positions of Sofy.