Thinking of using a simulator or emulator on your next mobile app testing project? Not so fast. Here’s an extract from an eBook on Launching Mobile Apps that discusses some of the pros and cons on the use of mobile simulators and emulators.
Pros: In many ways, the use of mobile emulators and simulators is essential for developing and testing a quality application. Such technology enables developers to verify certain functionality that is not specific to any device, carrier or operating system. They are also very useful in terms of usability, and especially design, including data input, screen size, button use, etc. – all from the convenience of their own laptop.
Although many mobile app companies rely on these tools to identify bugs at an early stage in development , they often fail to catch bugs at later stages. As we’ve seen, these type of bugs are always the most expensive to correct.
Cons: One of the biggest challenges for mobile developers is that the testing of applications is occurring in an environment far removed from the real world, where actual users run and interact with those applications ON their devices. Said differently, the gap between “in-the-lab” simulation and “in-the-wild” usage is far too great to ignore.
Consider, for instance, an application that is data entry intensive. To assume that it can be fully tested on a simulator (i.e. with full keyboard and mouse access) and be ready for release is a mistake mobile app developers have continually made for the past five years. The convenience of simulators and emulators has made it easier than ever to be lured into a false sense of security. But the advantages of such tools are limited in scope, and should never be considered a substitute for real-world, on-device testing.