Considering User Experience when Testing Push Notifications in Messaging Apps

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Summary:

The functionality of a messenger app's push notifications is expected to be the same regardless of the device or OS being used. This article discusses how testing these notifications involves keeping in mind the different states of the device and the app, and why the functional configuration audit is just as important as the physical.

Configuration management (CM) helps us verify and validate that software and systems meet both the intended and, more importantly, the required use by our customers. The physical, technical details of CM can be quite challenging, but equally important is the user experience, which some CM analysts do not realize is a required part of their job. In CM terminology, this is called a functional configuration audit.

This article analyzes the way messenger apps behave on our beloved handheld devices. Most of us use messenger apps every day to communicate, whether in the form of text, photo, audio, or video, so heeding user experience is essential.

Consider the State of the App, Device, and OS

An app’s push notifications are facilitated by the OS of the mobile device and utilized by the app. When developers create the code for the app and its notifications, they use the built-in libraries of the specific OS to implement the features in the code. So whether they’re running on an Android, Windows, BlackBerry, or iOS device, messenger apps are designed to interface with push notifications in order to implement functionalities that keep us updated on a regular basis.

When developers code for mobile web apps and push notifications, they have to keep in mind that users on different OSes should see the same thing. The QA team must test a new or updated app across all platforms, and all possible states of the app and the device have to be factored in.

Here, I’ll analyze what to look for when the app is in the foreground or pushed to the background, and when the mobile device is in a locked, offline, or switched-off state.

When the app is in the foreground
When we are in a chat thread with someone, say, user A, and they send us another message, whether it’s on an iPhone or an Android device, we should not receive any notification. We will simply see the new message in our chat thread.

Chat thread on an Android device Chat thread on an iOS device

But, if we are in a chat thread with user A and user B sends us a message, on an Android device, we will receive both audio and visual notification. Even if we are on another screen in the same app, we will receive the alerts. However, an iOS device sends only the audio alert.

This is an example of the differences between OS libraries that the QA team has to be cognizant of when they are testing how a messaging app should function.

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