How Network Variability Impacts Mobile Applications?

07 / Apr / 2017 by Mayuri Dhane 0 comments

There has been a great increase in the mobile app development. Most applications allow mobile app developers to select between working offline and using a network. In an offline mode, applications do not connect to the backend but store the data and information locally. On the other side, in an online mode, applications communicate with the server using the internet connectivity.

The network has a huge impact on the application behavior including user experience, performance, and eventually the functionality.  Here’s a quick diagrammatic representation of how client software uses the communication channel, interacts with the server and fetches the information.

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Mobile application testing under ideal network is challenging. Every app needs to be tested in majorly three different bandwidths:

  • Strong Network
  • Weak Network
  • No Network

Apart from varying bandwidths, let us have a look at some of the other burning challenges in the network Testing:

– Network Diversity
– Memory impact
– Difficult to replicate real-time issues such as variation in network strengths in production environment

Outlined below are the different kinds of impacts on an application under network variability:

1. Inability to communicate with the server 

Sudden change in the network condition may cause serious effects on the mobile application wireless communication with the server.

2. Unexpected behavior hampers experience

In the case of no network, app behaves unexpectedly. It freezes, distorts the UI, misrepresents data and hampers the overall user experience.

3. Increase in performance issues 

There will be varying performance related issues that a user can possibly face on account of network issues. An application can hang, slow down or crash. There might also be problems related to functionalities.

4. Data Loss:

Users might lose their data on the application if there is a sudden loss in the network.

Important Checkpoints to Consider

There are various important considerations and checkpoints you need to understand while testing networks. Check whether the application is working in sync with the specs when connected to the internet. Check and list down the possible errors when there is no network. Provide recommendations to fix them. Also, check the application performance under varying network bandwidth. It should resume by itself once the network connectivity is regained. Check whether any of the functionalities, memory or data is impacted due to the difference in wi-fi speeds, low signal strength, 3G or 4G networks.

Consider providing an error message during bad network. Also, provide users with an option to retry which will ultimately enable users to quickly reconnect. While testing an application on different networks, also consider security considerations such as encryption, multi-user support, low-level resource usage, and buffering problems or data pollution.

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