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Cross-Platform Testing: Techniques, Tools, and Best Practices

As technology evolves, the digital landscape expands and diversifies with an increasing variety of platforms on which various applications can run. Users today interact with applications using different devices, operating systems, and browsers. This increased variability has elevated the importance of cross-platform testing in the app development lifecycle. This guide will introduce you to cross-platform testing, outlining what it is, why it matters, and its impact on user experience and market reach.

What is Cross-Platform Testing?


Cross platform testing is a type of testing method that verifies whether an application or product functions as intended across multiple platforms. These platforms include, but are not limited to, different operating systems (like Windows, iOS, Android, MacOS, Linux), browsers (such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge), and devices (mobiles, tablets, desktops of various brands). This form of testing is aimed at assessing various aspects of the application, including its functionality, usability, and user interface, under diverse environments. It helps to ensure that all users experience the application seamlessly, regardless of the platform they are using.

Importance of Cross Platform Testing


Why Does It Matter?


Cross platform testing plays a vital role in enhancing the overall quality of an application. In the absence of cross-platform testing, an application might work perfectly on one platform but may have significant functionality or usability issues on another. These inconsistencies can lead to a negative user experience, which may result in the loss of users or customers. With the extensive fragmentation of devices, operating systems, and browsers in today’s digital ecosystem, it’s virtually impossible to develop a program that works flawlessly on all platforms without comprehensive cross platform testing.

The Impact on User Experience and Market Reach


The primary objective of cross-platform testing is to provide a consistent and high-quality user experience across all platforms. An application that performs well, regardless of the platform, ensures user satisfaction, leading to user retention and potentially attracting new users.

From a business perspective, cross-platform testing extends the market reach of an application. The more platforms your application can run on without issues, the wider the audience you can cater to. In a competitive digital marketplace, cross-platform compatibility can be a decisive factor that sets a product apart, leading to increased adoption and higher revenues.

Understanding Cross-Platform End-to-End Testing




Cross-platform end-to-end testing, as the name implies, is a comprehensive approach to testing an application across multiple platforms, encompassing every integrated component and function from start to finish. In simple terms, end-to-end (E2E) testing means verifying a complete application environment in a scenario closely resembling real-world use, such as interacting with a database, communicating with other networks, servers, or interacting with other applications.

The objective of cross-platform E2E testing is to evaluate how the application behaves and performs in scenarios that mirror real user interactions across various platforms. By replicating the user behavior, it not only examines the functionalities but also checks the communication of the application with external interfaces.



The execution of cross-platform end-to-end testing involves several steps:

Define Test Scenarios:


The first step involves defining the user scenarios to be tested. These scenarios should cover all the possible user interactions with the application. Each scenario should be clearly defined with a start and end point, covering all the functionalities and interactions in between.

Set Up the Test Environment:


The next step is setting up the test environment that replicates the actual application environment. This includes setting up the various devices, operating systems, and browsers that the application will run on. The data flow and network communications should also be mimicked as closely as possible.

Execute Test Cases:


Once the scenarios and test environment are ready, execute the test cases based on the defined scenarios. Keep track of all the interactions and note the results.

Analyze and Report Results:


After executing the test cases, analyze the results to identify any issues or discrepancies. If any issues are found, they should be logged, tracked, and reported for fixing.

Retest and Validate:


After the issues have been fixed, retest the application to ensure the problems are indeed resolved. The process is repeated until the application functions as expected on all platforms. Cross-platform end-to-end testing is crucial in validating an application’s real-world performance across different platforms. It ensures that the system works together as a whole and delivers a seamless and consistent user experience.

Real – World Example


Let’s consider a real-world example of a cross-platform end-to-end testing scenario with a popular app: an online shopping application that works on various platforms, including iOS, Android, and web browsers. The e-commerce application allows users to search for products, add them to the cart, proceed to checkout, enter shipping details, make a payment, and finally receive a confirmation of their order. It also communicates with external applications, such as payment gateways, email servers (for order confirmations), and perhaps even inventory management systems.

To perform a cross-platform end-to-end test for this application, you would need to carry out the following steps:

Define Test Scenarios: Test scenarios may include searching for a product, checking product details, adding products to the cart, removing products from the cart, checking out, entering shipping details, making payment, and receiving an order confirmation. Scenarios may also include error situations like attempting to order an out-of-stock product.

Set Up the Test Environment: Here, you would arrange a range of devices with various operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.) and browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, etc.), replicating the environments your user base commonly uses.

Execute Test Cases: Run the defined test scenarios on all platform combinations, mimicking user behavior as closely as possible. For example, on an iPhone using Safari, a tester might search for a product, add it to their cart, proceed to checkout, input their shipping information, pay using the integrated payment gateway, and wait for the order confirmation email.

Analyze and Report Results: Suppose the tester finds that the payment gateway is not working properly on Android devices, or the order confirmation email is not sent when orders are placed from the Firefox browser. These issues would be logged, detailed in reports, and sent to the development team for resolution.

Retest and Validate: Once fixes have been implemented, the tester would re-run the same tests on the Android platform and Firefox browser to confirm that the previous issues have been resolved, ensuring the online shopping app provides a seamless user experience regardless of platform.

This scenario highlights the importance of cross-platform end-to-end testing in ensuring an application’s functionality and performance across different environments, closely replicating the user’s journey.


Identifying the Right Time for Automation


When Should Cross-Platform End-to-End Testing be Automated?

Automation in cross-platform end-to-end testing can be a game-changer, but it’s essential to know when the right time for automation is. Here are a few scenarios when automating your cross-platform end-to-end testing makes sense:

Repetitive Tasks: If your team finds themselves performing the same tasks repeatedly, these tasks are perfect candidates for automation. Automation can significantly reduce the time and effort needed to execute these repetitive tasks.

Regression Testing: Regression testing is conducted to ensure that newly added features or code changes have not adversely affected the existing functionalities. Given the frequency and extent of regression tests, automating them can be highly beneficial.

Large Test Matrix: If your application targets multiple platforms, browsers, and devices, the number of test combinations can be overwhelming. Automated testing can help cover this vast test matrix more efficiently.

Long-term Projects: If the project is planned for a long duration, automation can be a prudent investment. While setting up automated testing requires initial effort and resources, it will pay off in the long run, offering significant time and cost savings.

The Necessity of Automation in Cross-Platform End-to-End Testing


There are various scenarios where automation of End-to-End cross platform testing becomes a necessity. Here are a few that highlight the importance and benefits of automation.

Scenario 1: When You’re Dealing with a Cross-Platform Application


Many modern applications, like messaging apps or e-commerce platforms, operate across various devices, providing a seamless experience to users. For instance, when you log into your Google account on a new device, all your data, including emails, contacts, and photos, are automatically synced. This cross-platform capability, though beneficial for the user, necessitates complex testing scenarios to ensure consistent functionality.

Cross-platform end-to-end testing in these cases must confirm the smooth synchronization of data across different devices and platforms. Given the complexity and repetitiveness of these tests, automation becomes a necessity. Automated testing solutions, such as Testsigma, can seamlessly handle these test scenarios across multiple platforms, ensuring comprehensive coverage.

Scenario 2: When Your Target Devices are Numerous


When launching an application, you need to define the range of devices, operating systems, and browsers your application will support. This is your list of target devices. With the vast number of device types, operating systems, and browser versions available today, this list can become extensive.

Testing your application manually on all these different combinations would be a Herculean task. This is where automation steps in, making it possible to conduct comprehensive testing across all target devices more efficiently.

Scenario 3: When There’s a High Volume of Repetitive Tests


Repetitive tests are those that need to be executed multiple times, either on various devices or with each new version of the application. These tests, often termed regression tests, are critical to ensuring that new features or updates do not introduce bugs into previously working functionalities.

Conducting repetitive tests manually is not only time-consuming but also prone to human errors. Automated testing, on the other hand, can execute these tests accurately and quickly every time, making it an ideal solution for handling repetitive test cases. Once automated, these tests can be easily integrated into the continuous integration (CI) pipeline for regular execution.

Scenario 4: When Project Timelines are Tight


When working with strict deadlines, every minute saved counts. Automated testing significantly reduces the time taken from testing initiation to release. It allows for faster execution of test cases, immediate reporting, and even parallelization of tasks. This efficiency can dramatically speed up the testing process, ensuring you meet your project deadlines without compromising the quality of your application.


Scenario 5: When there is a need for Non-Functional Testing


Non-functional testing assesses aspects of the app that may not be related to a specific user action or function, such as performance, security, and usability. Due to their nature, these tests often require repetitive and extensive tasks. For example, performance testing involves simulating multiple users accessing the application simultaneously, which can be cumbersome and time-consuming to execute manually. Automation allows these tasks to be carried out efficiently and accurately, ensuring that the application meets non-functional requirements across all platforms.

Scenario 6: When there’s Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD)


In a CI/CD pipeline, code changes are regularly merged and tested, and if the test is passed, deployed to production. This necessitates regular testing, and with applications that are cross-platform, it means multiple environments need to be tested each time. In such a context, automated testing is not just helpful; it’s essential. It ensures that code changes do not break the application on any platform and that high-quality software can be deployed more frequently.

Scenario 7: When dealing with Complex User Interfaces


Applications with complex user interfaces (UIs) that have various elements can be challenging to test manually. The effort required to validate every interaction on every platform is immense. Automated testing can help simulate user interactions and validate the UI across different platforms, ensuring a consistent and user-friendly interface.


Scenario 8: When Data-driven Testing is Required


Data-driven testing involves running the same test cases multiple times but with different input values. It ensures that the application can handle various inputs correctly. Manually testing these multiple data sets can be monotonous and prone to error. Automated tests can easily iterate through the different sets of data, testing each one quickly and accurately.

Scenario 9: When Strict Compliance Standards need to be met


In industries such as healthcare or finance, various applications need to adhere to strict compliance standards. Every feature, on every release, across all platforms, needs to meet these standards. Automated testing can ensure compliance by consistently checking each requirement across all platforms, leading to reliable results and quicker approvals.

The necessity of automation in cross-platform end-to-end testing is underscored in scenarios that require comprehensive coverage, repetition, and speed. Automated testing not only boosts efficiency but also enhances the accuracy and coverage of tests, making it an invaluable asset in today’s fast-paced app development cycle.

Planning for Cross-Platform Testing


Define the Strategy


Developing a clear, comprehensive strategy is the first step towards effective cross platform testing. This strategy should align with your business goals, target audience, and application requirements. Here are a few key points to consider when defining your strategy:

  1. Identify Your Target Platforms: Understand your target audience and the platforms they are most likely to use. Consider the operating systems (Android, iOS, Windows), browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari), and device types (smartphones, tablets, desktops).
  2. Understand Your Application: Identify the critical functionalities of your application that require thorough testing. The nature of the application can also influence the testing strategy. For example, a graphic-intensive application might require more focus on performance testing across devices.
  3. Define Your Testing Types: Decide on the types of testing to be performed, such as functional, usability, performance, security, and compatibility testing. The types of testing will depend on the application and its requirements. 


Create a Test Matrix


A test matrix is a structured approach to identify different test scenarios based on the combinations of platforms, devices, and software versions your application supports. Here’s a simple guide to creating a test matrix:

  • List Your Variables: Identify all the factors that can change across your application’s usage. These could include the operating system, browser, device type, screen resolution, and internet connection speed.
  • Create Combinations: Develop combinations of these variables to create various testing scenarios. For example, one scenario might involve an Android smartphone running on a 4G network, while another might involve an iPad on a Wi-Fi network.
  • Identify Critical Combinations: Not all combinations are equally likely or critical. Based on your user data and application requirements, identify the most critical combinations that should be tested first. 


Prioritize Platforms


While it would be ideal to test your application on all possible platforms, it is often impractical due to time and resource constraints. Prioritizing platforms can help focus your testing efforts where they are most needed. Here’s how you can prioritize:

  • User Analytics: Use analytics to understand which platforms and devices are most commonly used by your target audience.
  • Market Trends: Consider market trends and future predictions. For example, if a new version of a browser or operating system is gaining popularity, it might be worth prioritizing.
  • Business Strategy: Your business strategy can also influence the priority. If you plan to target a particular user segment, you might prioritize the platforms they use most. 



Potential Challenges and Strategies for Cross-Platform Testing


Despite the importance of cross platform testing, it does come with a unique set of challenges. However, acknowledging these challenges and devising strategic solutions can make your testing process more effective. Here are some of the common challenges and ways to mitigate them:


Varied User Interfaces Across Platforms


UI elements like buttons, text fields, or menus may not look the same or work consistently across different platforms. This could lead to a subpar user experience.

Strategy: Implement UI testing to ensure consistent design and usability across all targeted platforms. Utilize tools that can automate UI testing across multiple platforms, helping to identify any inconsistencies quickly.


Disparate Performance Levels


Performance, such as loading times or responsiveness, can significantly vary from one platform to another due to differences in hardware and software configurations.

Strategy: Execute performance testing across all major platforms and devices. It’s also essential to use real devices when possible as emulators may not accurately represent actual device performance.

Diverse Screen Sizes and Resolutions


Different devices have varying screen sizes and resolutions, which could affect the display of your application and can potentially disrupt user interaction.

Strategy: Responsive design testing ensures your application adjusts correctly and appears as intended on different screen sizes and resolutions.

Platform-Specific Security Concerns


Every platform has its unique security vulnerabilities. If overlooked, these could lead to significant security threats.

Strategy: Include security testing in your cross-platform testing plan. It’s essential to conduct this on all platforms as each has distinct security features and vulnerabilities.


Integration Problems


Your application may have to interact with external systems such as databases, third-party APIs, or cloud services. Differences in platforms might result in integration issues.

Strategy: Conduct integration testing to ensure that your application interacts properly with external systems across all platforms.

Platform-Specific Features


Features that are unique to certain platforms or devices, like biometric authentication or widgets, need to function correctly on the relevant platforms.

Strategy: Include tests that specifically validate the operation of platform-specific features on the respective platforms.

Different OS Version Support


Every operating system has its unique version history and the support needed for each version may differ. Supporting all versions might be overwhelming and ignoring some could mean losing a chunk of your user base.

Strategy: Understand your user demographic and prioritize OS versions accordingly. Conduct thorough compatibility testing to ensure your application functions smoothly across different versions of the target operating systems.

Network Condition Variations


The performance of your application can vary significantly based on the network conditions such as Wi-Fi strength, 4G or 5G connectivity, or even offline mode.

Strategy: Network testing should be an integral part of your cross-platform testing strategy. It’s essential to test your application under different network conditions to ensure a consistent user experience.

Multiple Language Support


If your application is meant for global use, it needs to support multiple languages. However, languages come with their nuances, and this can create unforeseen issues.

Strategy: Implement localization testing to validate the language support of your application on different platforms. This will help ensure that your app provides an inclusive user experience.

Handling Updates


Every platform has a different update cycle and managing your app’s updates can become challenging.

Strategy: Develop a well-planned update strategy that aligns with the update cycles of the different platforms. Also, thorough regression testing is needed every time an update is made to ensure existing features still work as expected.


Device Hardware Capabilities


Devices come with different hardware capabilities, and not all features of your application may be supported on every device.

Strategy: Prioritize device hardware in your testing strategy and conduct thorough testing to ensure your application provides a graceful fallback on devices with limited hardware capabilities.


Tips and Techniques for Efficient Cross-Platform Testing:


Cross-platform testing can seem overwhelming due to its wide scope, but with the right strategies, it can be simplified and made more efficient. Here are some tips and techniques to streamline your cross-platform testing process:

Develop a Comprehensive Testing Plan: Outline which platforms and devices will be covered, the type of tests to be carried out, and the desired outcomes.

Leverage Cloud-Based Platforms: Use cloud-based testing platforms to access a wide array of real devices and environments without needing to maintain them yourself.

Test on Real Devices: While emulators can be handy, nothing beats the accuracy of testing on actual devices. Whenever possible, validate your app’s functionality on real hardware.

Maximize Automation: Automating repetitive tests can save time and reduce human error. However, remember to balance automated testing with manual testing for a comprehensive test coverage.

Utilize Cross-Platform Frameworks: Tools like Flutter or React Native can help streamline the testing process across multiple platforms, making it easier to identify and rectify issues.

Work Closely With Your Development Team: Cross-platform testing should be an integral part of the development process, not an afterthought. Ensure the developers are aware of the testing plan and its importance.

Implement Continuous Monitoring: Regularly assess your application’s performance across different platforms and devices, and modify your testing strategies as needed.

Prioritize Critical Test Scenarios: All test scenarios are important, but some are more critical than others. Prioritize test cases based on their impact on the core functionality of your application.

Beta Testing: Consider conducting beta tests with a group of end-users. Their feedback can provide insights that you might have overlooked during internal testing.

Regression Testing: As updates and changes are made to the application, it’s important to conduct regression testing to ensure that the new code hasn’t broken any existing functionality.

Keep Up With Updates: Platforms and devices are continually being updated. Keep track of these updates as they may affect the performance of your application.

Error Reporting: Implement comprehensive error reporting within your application. This can provide valuable information if something goes wrong.

Networking Conditions: Test your application under various network conditions to see how it performs under different data speeds and stability levels.

Consider Accessibility: Your application should be accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Consider conducting accessibility testing on all platforms


Recommended Cross-Platform Testing Tools


In the realm of cross-platform testing, some tools have proven to be exceptionally effective. Each tool comes with its unique capabilities designed to assist in diverse testing scenarios. Here’s an overview of some of the most popular cross-platform testing tools:

  1. pCloudy:

    pCloudy stands out as an all-inclusive solution for testing mobile and web apps across multiple platforms. It provides an environment to perform both manual and automated tests on an array of over 5000 real device-browser combinations. This ability to perform concurrent testing on multiple devices dramatically curtails testing time. 

Key highlights of pCloudy include:

Parallel testing support: The ability to execute numerous tests simultaneously enhances efficiency.

Compatibility: pCloudy is compatible with key testing frameworks, including Appium and Espresso.

Advanced debugging: Debugging is made easy with videos and logs, which facilitate easy identification and rectification of issues.

Integration with CI/CD tools: Tools like Jenkins can seamlessly blend with pCloudy, thus streamlining the development and testing workflow.

Beyond these, pCloudy shines in a variety of testing types:

Functional Testing: pCloudy allows thorough examination of an app’s functionality across platforms.

Localization Testing: It checks if your app is correctly localized to the language and culture of different regions.

Visual Testing: By comparing screenshots of app pages across different devices, pCloudy ensures visual consistency.

Performance Testing: It helps verify your app’s performance under various conditions.

Compatibility Testing: pCloudy ensures your app works as intended across different devices, operating systems, and network environments.

Accessibility Testing: It helps to make sure your app is accessible to users with disabilities.

Usability Testing: pCloudy verifies the user-friendliness of your application across platforms.

Geolocation Testing: It allows testing the app functionality specific to different geographical locations.

Network Testing: pCloudy ensures your app performs optimally under various network conditions.

Localsite Testing: pCloudy enables the testing of pre-prod webpages on different browsers and operating systems on real devices.

pCloudy also has AI based capabilities like Certifaya – an AI-powered bot used for exploratory and crash testing, self-healing of test scripts, and AI-based visual testing.

  • Selenium

Selenium is a widely-used open-source tool primarily used for automating web applications. It supports cross-platform testing across various browsers and operating systems.

Its key features include:

  • Supports a variety of programming languages, including Java, C#, Python, Ruby, and JavaScript.
  • Allows for the creation of complex tests through Selenium Grid, enabling simultaneous testing across different browsers and systems.

Integration with CI/CD tools like Jenkins, Maven, and Docker, to facilitate continuous testing.

  • Appium

Appium is an open-source tool used for automating mobile apps. It allows for both Android and iOS app testing and supports multiple programming languages.

Its key features include:

  • Compatibility with both native and hybrid mobile apps.
  • Doesn’t require any modifications to the app, ensuring the authenticity of the tests.
  • Support for writing tests with various programming languages, including Java, Ruby, Python, PHP, JavaScript, and C#.

Any mobile app may be automated using any language and test framework.

  • Robotium

An open-source framework for automating Android tests called Robotium fully supports both native and hybrid applications. It simplifies writing powerful and robust automatic black-box test cases.

Its key features include:

  • Easy to write, faster execution of tests, and minimal time needed to write solid test cases.
  • Automates numerous Android tasks and quickly builds reliable test cases.
  • Function, system, and acceptance test scenarios can be created by test case developers for a variety of tasks. 




As technology continues to evolve, so does the need for comprehensive cross-platform testing. In today’s digital landscape, where users access applications from a myriad of devices and platforms, ensuring consistent performance is not just desirable – it’s absolutely necessary. It plays a critical role in validating that an application performs consistently across different environments. Investing in a robust cross-platform testing process, and leveraging the right tools, can lead to significant benefits, ensuring enhanced user experience, increased market reach, and ultimately, higher revenues.

Choosing the right tools for your cross-platform testing needs is an integral part of this process. Whether you opt for pCloudy, Selenium, Appium, or Robotium, each tool offers unique features that can streamline your testing process and help ensure that your application delivers a seamless user experience across all platforms.

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Jeroline is a strategic marketing manager at pCloudy. She helps navigate the complex world of marketing strategy, but she views herself as simply a team player with a love for the intricate puzzle that is marketing. She spends her days unearthing effective marketing strategies, always ensuring that they align with pCloudy's cutting-edge app testing capabilities. When she's not immersed in data or campaign planning, you might find her in a quiet corner with a good book or spending time with family. Every path she treads, in her work or leisure, is marked with humility, curiosity, and an eagerness to learn.