The word “farm” brings to mind a rural setting, with a barn and some animals milling around. Until a company hears about the concept of a “device farm” and understands that it is an ideal mechanism to ensure that its mobile applications have the highest possible reliability, compatibility, and coverage levels…

A device farm consists of a series of mobile devices of different makes and models arranged in a rack within a data center that extends automated testing for mobile applications.

This means that tests are performed against real phones with all their processes running. While BrowserStack-style emulators are often used to test an app on different devices, the limitations are many.

Between the real and the simulated

For example, the emulator usually only runs the native processes of the device, so the tests work well in that simulated environment. Then, the software fails when running on the actual phone, with other concurrent applications -such as home banking or social media- that may have interoperability problems with the software being tested.

When testing with an emulator, there are other conflicts related to location, Wi-Fi usage, battery usage (a fundamental issue when the software being tested consumes much energy: the emulator may not detect it), bandwidth, or hardware issues. Although the emulation may be pretty reliable, it may raise issues in extreme or rare situations, something that does not happen with the physical device, where it is tested on the actual hardware.

Better testing at no additional cost

Another benefit of the device farm is that it guarantees compatibility with all devices tested against at a cost and resource utilization far below what would be needed to do the same manually. The ROI is multiplied: with the same effort that an automated test was made, all the necessary devices can be covered.

Finally, the speed difference is significant. Emulators tend to have a higher latency in each interaction performed against each simulated device, while in the device farms model the response is almost immediate.

In nearshore processes, the device farm adds a new advantage: it tests the software on devices equivalent to those used by the customer, regardless where they are located, without the need to move any devices.

Scalable, transparent and without limitations

Making Sense includes the device farm concept in the QA testing service at no additional cost. It is billed by the minute consumed on each device. We have a farm with Android and iOS devices, with a wide range of model brands and age. The number tends to multiply.

Quality managers can have access through an app that displays a panel showing all the devices available on the farm. They select the ones they want to test and everything is solved with a double click. The device farm is connected uninterruptedly. Our expertise includes several projects in social media, agriculture, retail and health companies.

The closer the testing environment is to reality, the more effective the testing process and software quality will be. That’s why, at Making Sense, we recommend that mobile applications take a walk around the farm before going into production.