iOS Automation Testing Tools with Pros, Cons & Best Practices

iPhone with importance of iOS Automation Testing

iOS automation testing entails testing apps that are only compatible with iOS devices. In general, testing apps necessitates an understanding of the application’s purpose, technical requirements, and performance metrics in order to compare expected and actual behavior. 

The iOS operating system is a closed environment that can only be used on Apple devices. This makes it easy to test the program across a wide range of devices, as opposed to Android apps, which may be installed on a far more significant number of devices.

The iOS app must be personally tested as well as utilize automation tools. Bugs are unavoidable in any application, no matter how well-designed it is. iOS automated testing is equally as crucial as testing any software on any platform, whether it’s iOS or Android. 

Quality assurance activities should begin at the very beginning of the application lifecycle. It is more convenient to test iOS applications on these devices because the devices are known, and the OS updates are well-planned. 

Automated testing for iOS applications has many advantages. Automated test scripts help to save time and effort by permitting one test to run simultaneously on several devices.

Also, Read 15 Best Automation Testing Tools That Can Ease Your Testing Journey

iOS Automation Testing Tools, Testing Framework, Challenges, & Best Practices

many iPhones with charging port and cable showing importance of iOS Automation Testing

Let’s start with functional testing tools for iOS.

Open Source Functional Testing Tools For iOS Automation

Open-source testing tools are programs that help with a variety of testing tasks. You can use this software to plan, create, execute tests, log defects, and more. These tools are used to check the hardness and thoroughness of software.

The following is a hand-picked list of the Top Open Source Testing Tools, along with their features, pros and cons, and price.

#01 Appium

Appium is a mobile application automation framework created by Selenium, the leading online application automation framework.

Appium uses the same Selenium WebDriver and HTTP protocol approach to automate mobile applications, including iOS apps because it is part of the same family. It’s an open-source platform that’s not limited by programming languages; you may test the app in a variety of languages, including Java, C#, Python, Ruby, and others. 

Appium can also be integrated with any other framework or technology that is required to help automate mobile applications. As a result, Appium gives you the freedom to configure your testing needs as you see fit.

Cost of Appium:

Developer Community: Free for two people 

Professional plan: $100/month for up to 5 users per machine

Enterprise package – $300/month per machine, with an unlimited number of users

Pros of Appium:

  • Appium works on both Android and iOS devices. Depending on the specific device, if the MAC OS version is more significant than iOS 9.3, it converts all selenium commands to XCUITest (iOS) or UIAutomator (Android).
  • Java, Objective-C, JavaScript with node.js, PHP, Ruby, Python, C#, and more programming languages are supported by Appium.

Cons of Appium:

  • Image comparisons are not supported.
  • Several gesture supports aren’t available.
  • Appium is not compatible with Android versions before 17.

#02 Calabash

Calabash is an open-source mobile automated testing project similar to Appium. It, too, is defined by its simplicity, as is Appium. Although it isn’t as comprehensive as Appium, it does provide some distinct advantages.

Calabash’s primary advantage is that it uses Cucumber functionality, which means that tests may be written in plain English rather than complicated code chains. As a result, testing can be delegated to any member of the team, coder or not.

The second major advantage is that Calabash is integrated with Xamarin, which, as we previously stated in our Android article, is the best invention since the Game Boy. Xamarin provides access to over 1,000 cloud-based devices for testing your apps. Simply log into the Xamarin test cloud after you’ve written your test and get started.

Again, there aren’t many drawbacks. When it comes to flexibility, though, Calabash is a bit of a mixed bag. Unlike some rival solutions, it can run on both actual devices and simulators, although it does not support a variety of programming languages. 

In fact, Ruby is very much your only option. Furthermore, in order to use it, you’ll need to install a bunch of stuff on your app, such as an Objective-C framework.

Cost of Calabash: 

It is free.

Pros of Calabash:

  • It plays a huge role in increasing productivity and throughput.
  • Increased quality prediction or improved quality
  • Process or product robustness (consistency) is improved.

Cons of Calabash:

  • Writing automation test scripts necessitates proficiency.
  • Debugging the test script is a significant problem.
  • In the case of playback methods, test maintenance is expensive.

#03 Xctest/Xcuitest

Apple’s official testing framework for unit tests is XCTest. XCUITest is a UI testing framework based on the XCTest framework, with additional classes like UIAccessibility to help with UI testing. Both frameworks are available in Objective C and Swift. 

It does not need any additional software or packages to run testing on the AUT because it is native to iOS devices (application under test).

For iOS applications, XCTest/XCUITest is faster than other automation frameworks. XCTest is lightweight since it does not require additional layers of abstraction APIs. 

If you decide to utilize XCTest as your automation framework, you may also use XCode Test Recorder. It is easier to do UI test scenarios with the test recorder since we can record and playback the executed UI tests.

Cost of Xcuitest: 

It is free because it comes with Xcode.

Pros of Xcuitest:

  • Apple’s suite is in sync with each other.
  • Quick and simple to use

Cons of Xcuitest:

  • When it comes to bug fixes, Apple lags behind Google.
  • Documentation is lacking: It lacks a description of all the procedures and how to apply them.
  • A little community: You’ll have difficulty getting a response to your query.
  • When compared to Android testing, test execution times are slow.
  • Updates to frameworks are uncommon.
  • Only testing on simulators out of the box necessitates the use of additional tools to work with real devices. Facebook WebDriverAgent is one of them (WDA). WDA sends commands to XCUITest via API, whether it’s on a simulator or a real device.

#04 Kif — Keep-It-Functional

KIF is a user interface testing tool that is closely connected to XCUITest. 

Again, its intimate link with Xcode offers particular advantages: it integrates directly into the Xcode project, saving you the hardship of setting up a separate web server or emptying your memory with additional packages.

It’s quite easy to get started. If you already have XCTests set up in your project, all you have to do now is add the KIF pod. Furthermore, the tests are faster than the XC tools.

Another major benefit is realism. The test conditions are extremely user-like, which means they mimic how a user would use the app in real life. Furthermore, KIF can replicate a wide range of user interactions.

Cost of Kif: 

It is free.

Pros of Kif:

  • Apple’s suite is in sync with each other.
  • Quick and simple to use

Cons of Kif:

  • Although XCTest isn’t new, it still has several challenges with fundamental usability and robustness in developing tests for iOS apps.
  • Support Few Programming Languages.

#05 Bugfender

Bugfender is a remote logging application stored in the cloud that allows you to detect issues before your users do. Get real-time remote access to any user’s mobile or web application logs, no matter where they are in the world. 

Bugfender logs almost everything, even when the device is turned off, and goes beyond standard crash reporting. 

With in-app user feedback, you’ll get instant visibility and be able to fix errors faster than ever before.

Pros of Bugfender:

  • It’s simple to use and integrate into your workflow.

Cons of Bugfender:

  • There could be a longer free trial time.

Cost of Bugfender: 

Bugfender’s monthly cost starts at €29.00 per feature. A free version is available. A free trial of Bugfender is available.

#06 Detox

Wix, one of the leading contributors to the React Native community, created Detox, a Javascript-based end-to-end automation testing framework for mobile apps.

Detox was used to create E2E automation testing for Android and iOS mobile apps. Though the framework setup was first a little complicated, working on Detox to put up tests using Cucumber was a pleasant experience. 

Detox works seamlessly with Jest and Mocha test runners, as well as Travis and TeamCity-based Continuous Integration (CI) pipelines.

Using Detox and Cucumber to set up tests made it simple to incorporate the results into spriteCloud’s Calliope Pro dashboard for Android and iOS devices. 

SpriteCloud designed Calliope Pro, a test results monitoring and reporting dashboard, so development teams can share, compare, and monitor quality assurance testing results all in one place. 

Pros of Detox:

  • Detox is more debuggable than any other UI test automation from a third party.
  • Detox is simple to incorporate into any React Native project. Compared to other tools, the initial cost and effort are far lower.
  • Because it syncs with the app, Detox is far faster than Appium or any other third-party tool.
  • Detox is simple to use and has excellent API documentation, making it straightforward to develop and modify our test suite.

Cons of Detox:

  • The Android support isn’t fantastic, but it’s getting better.
  • iOS Web Views do not support real-time testing, and hybrid apps are not supported.
  • A few helpful methods, such as pulling the text out of an element or obtaining the locations, are lacking.
  • The ability to report on tests and take screenshots isn’t excellent.

#07 Earlgrey

EarlGrey has a built-in synchronization feature that forces test scripts to wait for UI events before attempting to interact with the application’s UI. 

A comparable feature is provided, for example, in Google Espresso for Android, which makes the performance very smooth and fast because the script does not require any waits or other implementation that would slow down the test script. 

Furthermore, because all phases of the test script explain how the test will go and the UI is synchronized with it, this type of implementation makes the test script more concise.

Another key feature of EarlGrey is that all UI element operations are limited to visible elements. 

As previously said, this will give a quick and reliable way to guarantee UI testing is completed, like clicks, gestures, and other user interactions will not be completed if the UI element is not fully visible.

Pros of Earlgrey:

  • Internal component synchronization is robust in this versatile architecture.
  • The framework as a whole is open source.
  • It’s compatible with XCode.
  • Well-kept and actively being developed

Cons of of Earlgrey:

  • Some APIs may require you to add some extra code to your app in order to support them.
  • The setup is simple; however, it can be difficult for users who do not have developer experience.
  • Android isn’t supported.
  • There are numerous outstanding concerns.

#08 Ocmock

OCMock is a strong mock object testing framework that can be used to create stubs in iOS apps. 

Mock objects are crucial in software testing because they allow QA engineers to imitate the actions of complicated, real-world things.

Mock artifacts have no built-in support in Xcode. As a result, OCMock is used as a unique library. Objective-C is the source of this library. 

OCMock makes it easy for users to include mock artifacts in their current test cases.

Pros of Ocmock:

  • Using a template is one of the simplest ways to add mock objects to existing unit tests.
  • Developers can use their existing skills because it’s written in Objective-C.
  • The framework as a whole is open source.

Cons of Ocmock:

  • OCMock isn’t a complete test solution; it’s a means to improve XCode tests.

iOS Automation Testing Frameworks

Continuous improvements in the field of application development have brought us to a plethora of new tools and frameworks, many of which are intended to make development easier and faster. 

The same can be said for testing frameworks for iOS. Testing frameworks have become an unavoidable component of the development lifecycle since they aid in the optimization of the entire testing process and assure compliance with quality standards.

According to a report from build fire, the Apple App Store has 2.2 million apps available. 

With the mobile market being so competitive, iOS developers must use the best iOS testing frameworks to deliver faultless apps.

iOS Automation Testing Using Appium

Appium is a client-server architecture open-source test automation tool. Appium is capable of handling numerous WebDriver sessions in addition to presenting the REST API. 

Most importantly, utilizing Appium with Selenium WebDriver API and language-centric client libraries for developing complex test cases for cross-platform and native apps, you receive superior results from iOS automation testing. 

Appium is the best solution for iOS app testing because it supports native, hybrid, and mobile web applications.

React Native iOS Automation Testing

Because React Native works on both Android and iOS, UI testing should cover both platforms. 

They are taking genuine user conditions into account while testing is always a smart practice to create a seamless and consistent end-user experience.

As a result, testing on real Android and iOS devices will ensure that the React Native App’s user experience is consistent across devices and platforms. 

Testing on TestGrid’s real device cloud will also aid in the detection of flaws that are difficult to detect using emulators or simulators and could negatively impact the user experience.

Thousands of real smartphones (Android and iOS) are available through our real device cloud, allowing you to execute manual and automated app tests in a real-world setting. 

To put it another way, all tests verify how an app would behave if it were used by real people in real life.

Read more: Top 5 iOS Automated Testing Frameworks

Challenges Faced in iOS Automation Testing

#01 A Wide Range of Mobile Apps

The first thing that springs to mind when we think of mobile applications is the varied mobile application icons. Although native mobile apps are only a small part of the total picture, the overall picture is far bigger. 

Mobile applications include online applications and hybrid applications, as well as “tap-and-install” apps. Each one has its own set of issues and procedures for testing.

#02 Extensive Operating System List

The mobile device’s engine is the operating system. It allows programs to execute on the device, and each operating system has its own set of words and functions. 

The Android operating system is distinct from the iOS operating system, and the two operating systems are distinct from the Tizen operating system. Not only do cross-developers differ, but operating systems also work differently in different versions. 

For instance, feature X may be supported in Android Jellybean but not in Android Lollipop.

#03 A Variety of Screen Sizes

We have another variable in the market, similar to the operating system issue: screen sizes. Most manufacturers have used the screen size of the mobile device as a selling point to entice people to purchase larger phones. 

This shift in device manufacturing necessitates a shift in application development.

#04 Matrix of Large Browsers

A browser matrix is a list of all the browsers you’ll be targeting with your mobile app, along with their versions. 

While this point only applies to web apps and progressive web apps, it is an essential part of the overall mobile app testing process.

#05 Problems with Mobile Networks

Without mobile network bandwidth testing, the testing of mobile apps cannot be deemed comprehensive. 

The fundamental issue with mobile network capacity is that, even if the end-user is on a slower network, they expect the application to respond quickly (or at the expected speed).

#06 User Requirements That Change Frequently

The process of gathering user needs is a fluid one. As time passes, they continue to evolve. A subscribe button in the top right corner is sometimes requested by a user. 

The user may wish to delete the sign-up button and register in another manner.

Best Practices For iOS Automation Testing:

#01 Real devices vs emulators/simulators 

When it comes to UI/UX testing, we are expected to test the program on all suitable devices; however, running tests on all devices can be fairly costly. 

Emulators or simulators are useful in this situation. Aside from the financial considerations, there’s also the issue of debugging the program step by step, which is more difficult to detect when testing on real devices.

Testing using a real device, on the other hand, can be faster than working with emulators or simulators. Reliability is also important in this case. 

Because recreating all types of user interactions can be tedious, real devices can be more trustworthy than emulators/simulators.

#02 Communication and detailed reporting

Taking screenshots or capturing the screen for each step or action during application testing might help debug and understand the program’s actual behavior. 

On older iOS devices, screenshots can be taken by pressing the power and home buttons simultaneously, whereas screenshots on newer devices can be taken by pressing the power and volume-up buttons simultaneously. 

When an iOS device is paired to a Mac through a lightning connector, QuickTime can be used to record the screen. 

One option that delivers automated screenshots and screen recordings are Fastlane, which uses XCUITest to take screenshots. 

Other iOS automation testing frameworks offer more information and communication during automating and testing.

#03 Logs of Crash and Console:

Crash and Console Logs: In the event of an application failure, crash logs are utilized to determine the root cause. 

In such cases, you must capture the crash records. To obtain the crash logs, complete the following steps:

  • Connect an iOS device to a Mac computer (iMac or Macbook).
  • Holding the Option () key down brings up the Menu bar.
  • Navigate to Library/Logs/CrashReporter/MobileDevice under Menu.
  • The name of the iOS device may be found here. Select the folder by clicking on it.
  • Starting with the name of your AUT, you can find the logs here (application under test).

Console logs, on the other hand, show the AUT’s (application under test) comprehensive information on the iOS device. The iTools application is required to examine the console logs. 

Connect the device to the system where the iTools application is operating and click the Toolbox icon once it has been downloaded. The final step is to click the Real-Time Log button, which will bring up the console log.


Performing iOS automation testing on iOS apps can be both exciting and difficult. 

As previously said, keeping up with evolving technology such as face-ID and fingerprint authentication, which have supplanted the age-old PIN and password authentication techniques, can be difficult. 

It’s not simple, especially with the time-consuming OS version upgrades that occur on a regular basis, but thankfully, these upgrades are well-planned.

To summarize, it is critical for the development and quality assurance teams to implement best practices in order to be prepared to manage any difficulty that may come. 

It’s critical to understand when to utilize emulators/simulators and when to test genuine devices. 

We’ll need to use screen capturing and recording tools, as well as crash and console logs, to follow the stages of the test cases and understand any potential UI issues that arise so that we can fix them quickly.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of testing iOS apps, it’s clear that selecting the correct automation framework, supplemental tools, and methodologies, and testing devices (emulators/simulators/stubs) for your project team is critical to completing the task successfully. 

Choose the appropriate framework for testing your iOS app based on your team’s skill set.