Pro Tips For Effective iOS App Testing

Pro Tips For Effective iOS App Testing

App testing is one of the most important parts of the iOS application development process. 

Each iOS device is somewhat unique. There are dozens of Apple iPhone products on the market, each with different screen sizes, iOS versions, hardware, and feature capabilities. This means that you’ll have lots to test for and potential issues to debug.

Truthfully, application testing is important for any software development project, including applications for Android devices and macOS. 

But for the purposes of this guide, we’re going to narrow that focus to Apple mobile devices and explain what you must know to effectively test your iOS apps.

What is iOS App Testing?

The term iOS app testing refers to tests run on any iPhone or iPad application. iOS app testing is the process of testing apps built for Apple devices. It involves testing for bugs, user interface issues, functionality, behavior, and any general performance problems that can impact the quality of the application.

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The goal of iOS app testing is to deliver the best possible user experience. By identifying and resolving issues before the app gets in the hands of real users, you can debug and fix problems that would otherwise prevent people from downloading, accessing, or using the app.

There are lots of different ways to approach iOS app testing. Depending on your app development method, you might use a combination of different testing tools.

You can hire quality assurance agents and use real testers to see how the app performs while it’s in use. Alternatively, you can use an iOS simulator or take advantage of the built-in debugging tools in Xcode. 

Testing your app using multiple methods is the best way to ensure it performs at the highest level and runs bug-free. No app is perfect, and you’ll ultimately find more bugs and issues throughout the lifetime of your app. But getting the app to market with as few problems as possible will set you up for success in the long run. 

What to Look For When Testing iOS Apps

Before you start testing an iPhone or iPad app for the Apple App Store, there are certain factors that you must understand. You can use this checklist of pro tips and best practices for effective iOS app testing:

  • Apple has lots of different iOS devices on the market. So you need to consider different screen sizes and orientations during the testing process to ensure the app fits a range of screens.
  • Think about the different types of devices under the iOS umbrella. Consider the screen resolutions and how those devices differ from each other (like iPhone UI testing vs. iPad UI testing).
  • Find out if the app is crashing or freezing during use. If so, what is causing the issue? In some cases, it could be a similar function or in-app action that causes a crash every time. Getting to the root cause of the issue will help you debug the error. 
  • Look for potential security issues within the app. What types of vulnerabilities does your iOS app have for a breach? Is there sensitive internal data or user information that could be the target?
  • Try to identify any memory leaks, which are blocks of memory that the application no longer uses. These often cause an iOS app to crash. 
  • Make sure the app is compatible with new iOS versions. As Apple continues to release new versions of software, your app must stay up to date with those releases to ensure compatibility. 
  • Test all of your push notifications and see if the push notification permission alerts are being displayed properly. This alert should only be shown to the user one time. 
  • Use beta testing to see if real users are satisfied with the app before it gets released to the general public. 

All of these tips will make your life much easier as you’re going through the iOS app testing process.

Testing 3 Main Types of iOS Apps

As previously mentioned, there are lots of different options to test an iOS app. The best mobile app testing option for you typically depends on the type of app you’re building and your development path. So before you begin any manual testing or start running an emulator, let’s look at a quick overview of each type of iOS app:

Mobile Web Applications

Web apps are an enhanced version of a mobile website. They only require a web browser to be run and used on a user’s mobile device. Many popular web applications are built with Javascript and can be accessed with a URL. 

Native Apps

Native mobile apps are typically built using the native API for Apple’s official iOS software development kit (SDK). Native iOS apps leverage the UI components in the SDK and also leverage built-in device features like internal cameras, microphones, GPS, Bluetooth, and more.

Hybrid Apps

As the name implies, hybrid apps are a mix between web and native. They do have some native UI components and offer a native experience to the end-user. But they give app developers a bit more freedom in terms of creating the app using web technology. 

Different Ways to Go About iOS App Testing

There are lots of different approaches to iOS application testing. To simplify those options, we can break them down into simulator categories. Below we’ll compare manual testing with automated testing and emulators vs. simulators. 

Manual or Automated Testing?

Manual app test cases are done “by hand.” This process requires a real device, like an iPhone or iPad. Then the tester will run through a set of instructions and scenarios to see how the app performs. 

The goal of a manual test is to verify the functionality of the app scripts for different use cases. Many manual tests require the testers to go through different in-app flows to mimic how users would actually use the app for its intended purposes. 

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Manual tests can also be used in an exploratory fashion, helping to determine what other types of tests can be run moving forward.

The downside of manual testing is the time and effort required. Each time a change is made, having to go back to retest the entire app functionality isn’t always realistic. That’s when manual testing comes into play. 

You can use different automation frameworks and tools to help you through this process. But for the most part, automated tests can be segmented into two categories:

  • Unit Testing — Unit tests use code to focus on one component of the iOS application in isolation. These tests take that single component through different variables to see if it responds with the correct values. Unit tests are ideal for identifying and fixing bugs in the early stages of development. This will ultimately save time and money if you can fix these issues early, as opposed to after the UI design has been implemented. 
  • End-to-End Testing — End-to-end tests are intended to simulate a real user experience. Testers will use the entire application stack, including network requests and backend server functions to see how everything responds to the simulation. 

Both of these types of automated tests are important to run as you’re testing iOS apps.

Emulators or Simulators?

The terms emulator and simulator are often confused with each other, but the two tools are not interchangeable. 

App simulators are designed to create an environment that mimics the behavior and configurations of an actual iOS device. Emulators duplicate all of the hardware and software features of a real device. 

In short, simulators provide basic device behaviors, and emulators duplicate the exact thing as the iPhone or iPad would exist in the real world.

Many iOS app emulators and simulators are web-based, meaning you can use them from a web browser like Safari or Chrome. But neither is a true replacement for testing on a real device. 

Can You Test iOS Apps On Windows?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have an iPhone or even Mac to test an iOS app. There are plenty of platforms out there that let you conduct iOS app testing from a Windows machine. Many of these tools double as a solution to test Android apps as well. 

We have a complete guide on the best iOS simulators for Windows. The list includes Appetize, iPadian, Smartface, AIR iPhone, and Remoted iOS Simulator for Windows PC.

You can refer to that guide to compare the pros, cons, and pricing of each tool. From there, you can determine which one is best for your unique scenario.

With that said, testing iOS apps on Windows is somewhat rare. Most iOS apps should be tested from an Apple device. But if you’re in a pinch and don’t have one at your disposal, you can still run effective iOS app tests from a Windows computer. 


Running tests on your iOS application is important. Getting these tests done throughout the development process will make your life much easier in the long run.

The key idea here is to identify and fix as many issues as possible before the app gets into the hands of real users. People just won’t put up with an app that’s constantly crashing, has bugs, and doesn’t work as advertised. 

It’s also worth noting that perfection is near impossible. Even the best and most popular apps in the world have bugs and crash when they’re being run on an iOS device. So don’t get discouraged if your code has some issues. You can always fix minor issues with new releases of the app as problems arise down the road. 

With so many things to test for, developers and quality assurance agents must pick a testing method that makes the most sense for their application. 

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Daniel Hindi, CTO

Daniel is the CTO, COO, and Co-Founder of BuildFire. Throughout his career, he successfully launched and scaled five companies in the tech space. Daniel is an operations and systems specialist with 20+ years of experience managing and scaling lean startups.