Top Alternatives to Appium for Mobile Test Automation

appium Alternatives

Mobile applications have become an important and inseparable part of our daily lives. These applications act as gateways to communication, entertainment, information, and even financial services. With a variety of mobile phones and operating systems rolling out, there is great difficulty in ensuring the performance and functionality are seamless for mobile applications on multiple devices. However, using the right mobile app testing tool or framework can easily tackle this situation. In this article, we will talk about the famously used mobile app test framework Appium and look at the top Appium alternatives that are gaining popularity in the market.

Appium and its Role in Mobile App Testing

Appium is a popular test automation framework that is used to automate mobile apps. It allows you to execute your tests on real iOS and Android devices as well as on emulators. It is open-source and allows you to use multiple programming languages that it supports like Java, Javascript, Python, etc. Let us look at some of the advantages offered by Appium.

Advantages of Using Appium

  • Open Source – Appium is an open-source tool which means it comes with no cost. However, it has a huge support community that fosters continuous updates, bug fixes, and development of plugins and extensions.
  • Test Code Reusability – Using Appium you can be free from the hassle of rewriting test scripts for different platforms. Tests written for one platform can be reused for other platforms, hence minimizing redundancy. It also increases the efficiency where resources can be put into other important tasks rather than rewriting the test scripts.

Limitations of Appium

  • Limited Support for Gestures – Appium does support basic gestures like tap, double tap, long press, etc but with the advancement of technology a lot of advanced gestures are also being provided by mobile devices. Automation of complex gestures is a challenge when using Appium.
  • Steep Learning Curve – Learning Appium for beginners can be a task because of the vast capabilities and complex functionalities that it offers.

Now that we know what Appium is and what advantages and drawbacks it comes with let us explore some alternatives to Appium.

mobile app automation

Testgrid: A cloud-based platform  for Mobile App Automation

Testgrid helps simplify the process of testing mobile apps across multiple devices and operating systems through its cloud-based test automation platform. It aims to help organizations release mobile apps faster by providing an intuitive interface to maximize test coverage for Android and iOS devices with utmost confidence. It allows you to execute tests in parallel, hence reducing test cycles and eliminating device management overhead.

Strengths of Testgrid

  • Codeless Automation- Testgrid offers scriptless or low code test case creation capability, allowing people with no or minimal coding knowledge to start quickly.
  • Testgrid also provides support for Appium, Selenium, and XCUITest support, enabling developers to reuse the code wherever possible.
  • It allows you to connect your dedicated devices on the cloud directly to your local machine through Virtual USB (Simulate USB Connection to Machine).
  • Increased reusability is ensured as Testgrid helps to update the code centrally, in case of changes or updates in the app, rather than changing code specifically for each device/OS type.
  • Comprehensive reporting can be achieved using test result screenshots, recordings, and logs provided.
  • Testgrid’s APIs allow easy integration with third-party CI/CD tools.

For software development teams that look to scale their automated testing across multiple devices, OS versions, and form factors, Testgrid warrants evaluation. The cloud-based automation delivery model not only helps reduce the overhead of maintaining different test environments but also helps test more efficiently at lower efforts.

Calabash: Mobile Testing Framework

Calabash is an open-source mobile testing framework that facilitates automated cross-platform mobile app testing across both iOS and Android devices. It has been developed by Xamarin(acquired by Microsoft) for automating mobile app acceptance testing. Calabash tests are written using the Behaviour Driven Development style using the Gherkin language, which is simple plain English. This syntax allows for easy understanding of the tests to non-technical stakeholders.

Strengths of Calabash

  • The tests written using Calabash are isolated from UI changes, hence the test reliability is higher.
  • Tests can be executed parallelly for Android and iOS apps, hence reducing the execution time.
  •  Tests written in Calabash can be used for either of the platforms, i.e., Android or iOS, hence no need to rewrite tests specific to the platform.

Calabash is a versatile framework for mobile app automation and can be a good fit for teams that support both Android and iOS devices.

Selendroid: Selenium for Android

Selendroid is an open-source test automation framework created specifically for testing the UI of native or hybrid Android mobile applications. It uses the Selenium APIs to execute tests for the app, making it easy to learn for those already working on Selenium. It has a built-in element inspector that helps to locate and inspect the app elements for interactions.

Strengths of Selendroid

  • Selendroid allows inter-app testing, allowing interaction within multiple apps in a device.
  • With accurate locator usage, the test failure is minimized.
  • Selendroid provides tight integration with popular test runners like TestNG.
  • Selendroid allows you to interact with multiple Android devices, and emulators at the same time.

Selendroid is a lightweight alternative for Appium to achieve reliable test automation. It can help you scale your test automation with its comprehensive integration with popular extensions like the Selenium grid.

Espresso: Powerful UI testing framework for Android

Espresso is an official Android mobile test automation framework developed by Google. It is a part of the Android Testing Support Library and comes with easy-to-use APIs to write robust and concise UI tests. It uses Android Instrumentation API binding to facilitate interaction with native app UIs. The Java code invokes Espresso APIs for UI interactions and validations. It seamlessly integrates with Android Studio, Google’s official IDE for Android development.

Strengths of Espresso

  • Espresso comes with highly reliable and fast Android UI testing capabilities.
  • Test flakiness is minimized due to the automatic test synchronization feature.
  • Espresso comes with a test recorder, which allows testers to record interactions. This recording can then be exported to the Espresso test code.
  • With its matchers and assertions, Espresso enables precise and flexible validation of the UI components.

Espresso delivers streamlined Android automation testing with reliable and rapid test execution.

Detox Test Automation Framework

Detox is an end-to-end mobile test automation framework targeting iOS and Android applications. It enables reliable testing of React Native mobile applications. Its declarative API allows developers to write clear and concise test code.

Strengths of Detox

  • Its parallel test execution capability speeds up execution.
  • It comes with automatic reloading of the app after each step, ensuring a clean state for subsequent actions.
  • Detox facilitates Gray Box testing by leveraging access to the application’s JS layer for better control over testing.
  • The reusable test building blocks improve the maintainability of the tests written using the Detox framework.

Detox is suitable for teams using the React Native framework and intends to build reliable, automated, cross-platform tests using Native frameworks.

XCUITest: Apple’s native UI testing framework for iOS apps.

XCUITest is Apple’s proprietary iOS test automation framework designed to verify the functionality and behavior of iOS applications. It comes with native Xcode developer tools and helps developers and testers automate different user flows across multiple screens in iOS applications. XCUITest utilizes Apple’s UI testing APIs that allow easy inspection of elements and simulate actions on them.

Strengths of XCUITest

  • XCUITest ensures more reliable testing of iOS apps because of the private iOS API access which is not possible through other tools.
  • As it uses runtime UI access, you need not recompile app binaries.
  • Achieving test stability is easier due to the presence of built-in synchronization, assertions, and query mechanisms.
  • The tests can be easily executed on iOS simulators as well as physical devices connected to the development machine.

For reliable and native iOS test automation, XCUITest warrants strong consideration given its Apple pedigree and advanced capabilities.

EarlGrey Test Framework

EarlGrey is an open-source mobile test automation solution designed by Google to allow reliable automation testing for iOS applications. It allows developers to perform various interactions within the iOS apps. Its integration with Xcode and XCTest makes it easy to write and execute tests within the Xcode IDE. Developers can easily integrate the EarlGrey framework within their XCode project by making necessary configuration changes.

Strengths of EarlGrey

  • The synchronization mechanism of EarlGrey provides enhanced reliability of tests.
  • One can achieve reusable test patterns through EarlGrey API patterns.
  • Earlygrey is an active open-source project that has regular updates from the community.

EarlGrey is a powerful UI automation framework for iOS apps. Due to its comprehensive test of features, it can be a great tool to test iOS apps seamlessly and ensure the quality and reliability of the apps.

Testim: Accelerate Mobile Test Automation

One of the popular open-source mobile test automation tools TestProject was acquired by Tricentis in 2019. Tricentis now offers an alternate testing solution for mobile applications known as Testim Mobile. Testim provides smart test automation to ease the burden of testing complex mobile applications. Testim utilizes machine learning to convert UI actions into reusable test scripts for mobile apps. Just navigating through the application interface generates code. 

Strengths of Testim

  • Testim’s script-free approach saves time over coding the logic manually.
  • It provides an automatic healing mechanism to keep the tests running even when the UI changes.
  • Allowing parallel test execution speeds up the entire test cycle.
  • Easy integration with CI/CD tools helps in executing the tests on the go.
  • Quality test reports provide execution summaries with statistics on pass percentages thereby enhancing decision making.

Mobile development teams looking to scale test coverage across multiple devices and platforms should consider Testim.  Its automated approach can accelerate release cycles through hands-free test creation and maintenance.

Testsigma: AI-driven Test Automation

With the ever-growing need to test mobile apps, balancing the quality with the speed remains tricky. Managing emulators or real devices and maintaining multiple test suites can be challenging. Testsigma utilizes AI to simplify the process. Testsigma uses machine learning to speed up test case creation using natural language processing. It provides productivity advantages as discussed below.

Strengths of Testsigma

  • Faster test creation with the help of NLP.
  • Tests can be executed parallelly on private device labs as well as AWS Device Farm.
  • It has embedded CI/CD integration with tools like Github and Jenkins.
  • It provides smart test maintenance with auto-heal script features.
  • Analytics-driven decision-making through insights into test execution across different devices.

For mobile teams seeking robust test coverage across devices and OS versions rapidly, Testsigma comes with a lot of promise. Its AI-based test platform can accelerate release cycles through low-code test creations and efficient maintenance.

Appium v/s Top-Alternatives

FeatureAppiumTestgridCalabashSelendroidEspressoDetoxXCUITestEarlGreyTestimTestsigma
Free/PaidFreePartially FreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFree within Apple ecosystemFreePartially FreePaid
Platform SupportiOS/ AndroidiOS/ AndroidiOS/ AndroidAndroidAndroidiOS/AndroidiOSiOSiOS/ AndroidiOS/ Android
Programming LanguagesJS, Python, Ruby, Java, C#Java, Python, C#, JSRubyJava, C3, Ruby, PythonJava, KotlinJavascriptSwift, Objective CSwift, Objective CJS, Typescript, Java, Python, C#Java, Python, C#
Ease of UseModerate Learning CurveEasy to UseModerate Learning CurveModerate Learning CurveModerate Learning CurveModerate Learnig CurveModerate Learning CurveModerate Learning CurveEasy to ModerateEasy to Use
Cloud TestingThrough external integrationsYesThrough external integrationsThrough external integrationsThrough external integrationsThrough external integrationsThrough external integrationsThrough external integrationsPartial Native IntegrationYes
Real device testingLocally connected real deviceFully integrated real device cloudLocally connected device and real device cloud through third party integrationLocally connected device and emulatorsLocally connected device and emulatorsLocally connected devices and native simulatorsLocally connected real device and iOS simulatorsLocally connected real deviceLocally connected device and AWS Device Farm integrationFully integrated real device cloud
Cross-browser testingNoMobile web app across Safari, Chrome and other native browsersNoNoNoNoNoNoBrowsers on real mobile device and partial integration with 3rd party web browser cloudMobile chrome, safari and device browsers
PricingFreeFree + paid plansFreeFreeFreeFreeFree for developers working in Apple ecosystemsFreeOn avg 200,000/yrOn avg 200,000/yr

Conclusion

The mobile app automation testing frameworks need to be comprehensive enough to ensure critical factors like functionality, performance, usability, security and compatibility are evaluated. Without using such testing frameworks, it is difficult to be confident about the quality and reliability of mobile apps amidst the complexity of the digital landscape. To escape from error-prone tasks, it becomes very important to thoroughly evaluate the tools that can help you create a robust and scalable test framework. With the increase in AI capabilities, multiple smart tools are evolving. These tools not only help in running tests but also in analyzing the reports and keeping up with the pace of the ever-changing technical landscape. Testgrid offers a comprehensive approach for end-to-end test automation in one place, emerging as a powerful alternative to Appium among the many other popular tools for mobile and web test automation.

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