Smart TV applications are growing potentially and the advancement of technology has accompanied an increase in the use of Smart TV applications. More and more brands are getting into the Smart TV app market which has become competitors for Media streaming and content providers. Providing a great user experience is the definitive factor for the success of TV applications. However, developing and launching the Smart TV application involves a lot of hard work and the availability of a wide range of devices has become a challenge to the app providers.
Hence, it is important to perform rigorous testing of applications before pushing them to the Smart TV app store, as the cost associated with the testing is less than the cost incurred from finding and fixing bugs post-production launch. This will also help in providing great usability and a seamless user experience.
Why Smart TV Testing is essential?
A key feature of Smart TVs is the ability to run apps providing access to platforms such as YouTube or Netflix. Some apps are pre-installed and others can be added in the same way how apps are added to mobile phones. With so many Smart TV platforms, operating systems, and apps, each of which needs to be updated on a regular basis, testing functionality and interoperability can be a challenge and it is something essential.
Moreover, quality assurance is verifying the functions of an app on the TV but also validating the UI/UX with the design guidelines of the different device manufacturers. Every device manufacturers have its own design guidelines requirements, that include both functional and design elements. For example, button actions, navigation, font size, and specific feature requirements.
Similar to the design and development phases while creating apps on Smart TVs, whilst testing, one needs to consider the many facets, nuances, and performance of each device. This gets more complex as the hardware and software vary between each manufacturer. And within that, they change from year to year, model to model, and series to series. These variations have huge impacts on the performance of applications, where the same app will behave differently, regardless of your tech stack.
Challenges in testing Smart TV applications
Testing Smart TV applications majorly depends on ensuring that no functional, textual, visual, or usability issues occur in the application. Testers should go through every feature and section of the application to make sure that the product is working as expected.
However, there are some challenges that we are facing while performing testing on the Smart TV applications.
- Multiple devices, platforms, and versions: There are different combinations of TV in terms of OS, Service provider, and Screen size. Hence it is a difficult task for the QA to cover a maximum number of combinations before releasing the application. Also, QA cannot assure the quality of the application on the testing device if it works well, it will work fine on other devices even if it is of the same brand because it could have different Memory, CPU, Screen resolution, Hardware, and OS optimization.
- User interaction: Navigation is the key for TV applications. Interaction through the remote is different from that of a mouse or keyboard. Hene, for the applications, interactions should be as simple as they could be.
- Network conditions: Application behavior can be affected by changes in the network conditions by different network speeds and type such as Wifi, 2G/3G/4G, and LAN. This requires additional testing to ensure that the application behaves properly with different network conditions.
- Remote control is difficult and time-consuming: TVs don’t have buttons anymore and remote controls are used to interact with the TV. In some of the Smart TVs like Roku, Samsung, and LG remote handling is quite tough and time-consuming. Let’s say if a user wants to enter a text or search by using the remote control, it takes so much time. Hence, using a remote as an input source is difficult as well as time-consuming.
- Focus: The interactions are fully based on the focus model as there is no cursor in the TV applications. By swiping and pressing a button, users can move their focus from one element to another element. QA has to verify throughout the application, how elements appear when they are focused. Also, focus loss is a common issue in the TV application during forward/backward screen navigation.
O-primes solutions and QA practices for TV application testing
It is very tricky for any QA solution provider to give a holistic approach to Smart TV application testing. The only best way of solving this is by combining a crowdsourced model with domain expertise for TV application testing. Crowdsourced model to provide multi-platform coverage to assess app freeze, ANR, blank screen, loading issues, compatibility, etc., and domain expertise to provide QA best practices and TV app testing strategy for your application.
TV application providers need to adopt the below QA best practices to have an effective QA testing strategy for your application:
- Follow platform store guidelines: All the platforms have certain guidelines which the application needs to follow before they can be available in their respective stores. Hence, it is important for developers and testers to follow the store guidelines in order to avoid rejections. Most of the companies have basic guidelines such as having consistency in screen layouts, navigation, control feedback, etc.,
- Do not rely solely on the emulators, use real devices: Though emulators make testing easier, they are not very handy for Tv app testing since it is not possible to test on all versions of the TVs as they are quite expensive. Also, some platforms (eg: Roku) do not come with the emulators and some of the available emulators do not support testing necessary functionalities such as network connectivity or video streaming. Using real devices (Samsung, LG, Sony, Vu, Fire TV, Apple TV, Mi TV stick) for testing will help in providing reliable results and feedback along with the a great user experience.
- Network adaptability: Network fluctuations need to be considered while testing the TV application to check the impact on the users. Sometimes, testers come across scenarios where the network connectivity is bad. Under such cases, the app might freeze or close abruptly. Hence, it is important for the testers to test these cases so that proper error messages are displayed in case of a low network connection.
- Check for different resolutions: Since Smart TVs are built using different technology, we might come across a situation during testing where the app might work fine on one TV with a particular resolution and it might not on another TV with different resolutions. Hence, it is important to test the application for different resolutions.
- Usability issues: To deliver an amazing user experience, user experience testing is of key importance. Navigation should be simple and easy to understand with minimum single-click functionalities. Also, keeping the focus clear on the user’s selected component.
- Media streaming: Smart TVs are gaining popularity because of their ability to stream videos. Hence, it is important for QA to test every scenario related to streaming.
O-primes solutions ensure test coverage for the entire Smart TV application and cover all the above-mentioned TV testing scenarios. The goal is to provide a seamless user experience. It is important that applications receive comprehensive testing before being released to the public. Below are the tests which are performed to provide the best user experience:
- Functional testing: We verify if the application has desired functionality and is user-friendly. Also, the user interface is simple and consistent across the devices.
- Regression testing: This is carried out to make sure that functional and non-functional areas are working fine after code modification.
- Network testing: How the application behaves in slow network areas, high bandwidth, network latency, and other network conditions. These aspects are important that need to be considered while testing a Smart application.
- UI & UX testing: This testing is performed to measure how easy and user-friendly the application has been developed. The QA team will check for layout consistency, and navigation throughout the application to provide a seamless user experience and defect-free from an end-user perspective.
- Smoke testing: This testing is important to pass all QA builds through smoke testing in order to remove the basic errors.
- App performance testing: App launch, crashes, ANR, hangs, download, loading, installation use cases verification, and validation.
- Load testing: Many users can use TV applications from all over the world at the same time using. Hence, our QA teams check if the app performs optimally even under extreme load.
- Multi-platform testing solution: Performing testing on multiple TV devices covering different OEMS and OS versions which helps to provide consistent user experience and app performance across all the devices. This can be achieved with the O-primes platform and our domain experience testers community.
- Ready-made test suites and frameworks: An existing set of test suites that consists of all common OTT test scenarios which can be customized as per the requirement. Reusable test blocks. This is created and built by O-primes OTT domain experts and is constantly updated.
Many companies are building some cool TV apps and products. Providing a seamless user experience is the key to any product development. Likewise, IT firms, TV manufacturers, and content providers are exploring and increasing their investment in Smart TV applications to provide a digital experience to the customers. For any application, how the app is designed, and how well it performs will determine its failure or success. Hence, testing becomes extremely important and a key to success in the Smart TV application space as well.
When the bugs are identified at an early stage, there is reduced issue resolution overhead, thus resulting in quality delivery of the application and faster time to market. Considering user expectations and challenges, O-primes provides end-to-end testing of all your smart TV application testing needs.
Written by Aishwarya Prabhu