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The Complexity of Testing & Development for Streaming Apps

Amy Patt

Video-on-demand, over the top (OTT) and streaming apps have created a profound impact in the media and entertainment industries, disrupting the traditional ways consumers interact with television and movie content. This has caused a ripple effect across the consumer market, driving demand for streaming apps and services all over the globe.

Nearly every cable provider is coming out with their own OTT streaming service. Herein lies a big problem; trying to develop and test a streaming service that’s compatible with diverse provider platforms can create an enormous hurdle for testing teams.

Even with this surge in demand, OTT apps remain cumbersome to test and rely on rigorous development cycles, and lengthy manual execution, to ensure QA and functionality.

The OTT Testing Process

Part of what makes testing OTT apps difficult is the three distinct areas of the service, that all require individual development. Attention has to be divided between the following:

  • the underlying API
  • the streaming app UI
  • the video stream

Behind most streaming applications, there is an API—the set of functions that enables the sending and receiving of information and requests through a platform, over the internet. Because APIs are similar to mobile apps and work in a similar fashion, testing the API off an OTT app is a conventional process.

Testing the streaming user interface is a more complicated and fragmented process. Many different streaming platforms exist, so the practices of UI testing cannot always be translated from one technology or platform to another. For example, Android and Apple have their own TV platforms with streaming capabilities, both fairly sophisticated and slightly more mature than other devices.

Typically, the testing protocol for these devices is reflective of how the mobile apps are tested.

However, when using a streaming app, the interaction with the elements looks different on the web versus the mobile version. When using a streaming app on a TV, the user interacts with the platform via a remote control. This small nuance can have a large impact on the UI testing process.

The distinction between these areas requires unique testing strategy and execution for each. The resulting challenges in communication can also intensify the silo effect that many development teams experience, which negatively impacts the SDLC.

Considerations for Successful OTT Technology Testing

Quality assurance teams are then tasked with bringing together the disparate areas of OTT technology and their respective development cycles to ensure holistic achievement and quality. How can QA teams ensure optimal performance in the end product when there are three separate areas of testing to consider? By incorporating more than one type of testing into the development cycle.

Automate as much of the API testing as possible and test the functionality at the API level instead of the UI. When testing the UI, different screen sizes and resolutions should be tested multiple times for the same devices. Testing the video stream is an underdeveloped portion of testing, but the most straight forward approach is through manual testing. Audio/video quality and latency issues are obvious to someone watching, so this is the best way to catch any issues in the development cycle.  



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