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Appium vs BrowserStack: What are the differences?

Introduction

Appium and BrowserStack are two popular tools used for mobile app and web testing. While they serve similar purposes, there are key differences between the two.

  1. Platform Support: Appium is an open-source mobile automation framework that supports both Android and iOS platforms. It allows developers to write test scripts in multiple programming languages such as Java, Ruby, Python, etc. On the other hand, BrowserStack is a cloud-based testing platform that offers support for testing on various devices, browsers, and operating systems. It provides a wide range of real devices including Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac for app and web testing.

  2. Automation Capabilities: Appium is primarily focused on mobile app automation and provides features such as device and app management, screen capturing, touch gestures, etc. It supports both native and hybrid applications. BrowserStack, on the other hand, is designed for web testing and offers advanced automation features like parallel testing, automated screenshots, CSS and XPath selectors, etc. It enables developers to perform cross-browser testing using real devices or virtual machines.

  3. Execution Environment: In Appium, the test scripts are executed on the local machine or on a remote machine connected to the device. It requires additional setup and configuration to establish the connection between the machine and the device. BrowserStack, on the other hand, provides a cloud-based testing environment where the test scripts can be executed on real devices or virtual machines located in their data centers. It eliminates the need for device setup and connection establishment.

  4. Ease of Use: Appium requires a certain level of technical expertise to set up and configure the automation environment. It requires the installation of various tools and libraries and may involve some coding to write test scripts. On the other hand, BrowserStack provides a user-friendly interface that allows users to easily set up test environments, configure devices, and write test scripts using their codeless testing feature. It requires minimal technical knowledge and allows users to create tests using a simple drag and drop interface.

  5. Integration and Collaboration: Appium integrates well with popular continuous integration and test automation tools such as Jenkins, CircleCI, etc. It allows for easy collaboration and integration with other development and testing frameworks. BrowserStack also provides integrations with various popular tools and frameworks like Jenkins, Jira, Slack, etc., making it easier for teams to manage their testing workflows and share test results.

  6. Cost: Appium being an open-source framework is free to use and does not have any licensing costs. However, it requires additional infrastructure and resources to set up the testing environment. BrowserStack is a paid platform that offers different pricing plans based on the usage and requirements. It provides a range of plans catering to different team sizes and testing needs.

In summary, Appium is an open-source mobile automation framework focused on mobile app testing, while BrowserStack is a cloud-based testing platform that supports both mobile app and web testing on a wide range of devices and browsers. Appium requires setup and configuration, whereas BrowserStack offers a ready-to-use testing environment. Appium is free to use, while BrowserStack requires a subscription.

Advice on Appium and BrowserStack

I am looking to purchase one of these tools for Mobile testing for my team. It should support Native, hybrid, and responsive app testing. It should also feature debugging, parallel execution, automation testing/easy integration with automation testing tools like Selenium, and the capability to provide availability of devices specifically for us to use at any time with good speed of performing all these activities.

I have already used Perfecto mobile, and Sauce Labs in my other projects before. I want to know how different or better is AWS Device farm in usage and how advantageous it would be for us to use it over other mentioned tools

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Replies (3)
Aaron Evans
Testing Strategist at One Shore · | 3 upvotes · 4.6K views

A SaaS offering like Sauce Labs (or BrowserStack or LambdaTest, etc) will provide a remote Selenium/Appium Grid including the ability to run test automation in parallel (up to the amount based your subscription level) an a wide array of browsers and mobile devices.

These tools can be expensive, but if you can afford them, the expertise and effort of maintaining the grid, browser updates, etc. is worth it.

AWS Device Farm can be significantly cheaper, but is much more work to setup and run. It will not give you as many devices, or the reporting and screen/video capture you get with the the services. And there is no support for AWS Device Farm, and very poor documentation. I have used it, but do not recommend it. Running your own grid and physical device lab is better, but I'd stick with a service like Sauce Labs or Perfecto which will save you time and give you better services despite the higher price tag.

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BitBar's Dedicated Devices would be a great option for you. It allows you to dedicate (reserve) devices for your use only which also having access to all of the devices in the shared cloud. BitBar has the features and integrations that you are looking for as well.

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Pros of Appium
Pros of BrowserStack
  • 12
    Webdriverio support
  • 6
    Java, C#, Python support
  • 3
    Open source
  • 2
    Great GUI with inspector
  • 2
    Active community
  • 1
    Support android test automation
  • 1
    Internal API access
  • 1
    Support iOS test automation
  • 134
    Multiple browsers
  • 75
    Ease of use
  • 63
    Real browsers
  • 43
    Ability to use it locally
  • 26
    Good price
  • 20
    Great web interface
  • 18
    IE support
  • 16
    Official mobile emulators
  • 14
    Cloud-based access
  • 14
    Instant access
  • 11
    Real mobile devices
  • 7
    Selenium compatible
  • 7
    Screenshots
  • 7
    Multiple Desktop OS
  • 6
    Can be used for Testing and E2E
  • 5
    Pre-installed developer tools
  • 4
    Video of test runs
  • 3
    Favourites
  • 3
    Supports Manual, Functional and Visual Diff Testing
  • 3
    Webdriver compatible
  • 3
    Many browsers
  • 2
    Cypress Compatible
  • 2
    Unify and track test cases
  • 2
    Free for Open Source
  • 2
    Bi-directional Jira Sync
  • 2
    Test automation dashboard
  • 2
    Test Management
  • 2
    Cross-browser testing
  • 1
    Real devices
  • 1
    Speed is fast
  • 0
    Web accessibility
  • 0
    Test WCAG Compliance
  • 0
    Visual testing and review

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Cons of Appium
Cons of BrowserStack
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 2
      Very limited choice of minor versions

    Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

    - No public GitHub repository available -

    What is Appium?

    Appium is an open source test automation framework for use with native, hybrid, and mobile web apps. It drives iOS and Android apps using the WebDriver protocol. Appium is sponsored by Sauce Labs and a thriving community of open source developers.

    What is BrowserStack?

    BrowserStack is the leading test platform built for developers & QAs to expand test coverage, scale & optimize testing with cross-browser, real device cloud, accessibility, visual testing, test management, and test observability.

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    What companies use Appium?
    What companies use BrowserStack?
    See which teams inside your own company are using Appium or BrowserStack.
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    What tools integrate with Appium?
    What tools integrate with BrowserStack?

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    What are some alternatives to Appium and BrowserStack?
    Selendroid
    Selendroid is a test automation framework which drives off the UI of Android native and hybrid applications (apps) and the mobile web. Tests are written using the Selenium 2 client API
    Detox
    High velocity native mobile development requires us to adopt continuous integration workflows, which means our reliance on manual QA has to drop significantly. It tests your mobile app while it's running in a real device/simulator, interacting with it just like a real user.
    Selenium
    Selenium automates browsers. That's it! What you do with that power is entirely up to you. Primarily, it is for automating web applications for testing purposes, but is certainly not limited to just that. Boring web-based administration tasks can (and should!) also be automated as well.
    EarlGrey
    EarlGrey is a native iOS UI automation test framework that enables you to write clear, concise tests. With the EarlGrey framework, you have access to enhanced synchronization features. EarlGrey automatically synchronizes with the UI, network requests, and various queues; but still allows you to manually implement customized timings, if needed.
    Kobiton
    It enables developers and testers to perform automated and manual testing of mobile apps and websites on real devices. Modern DevOps and Quality environments require apps to be tested on hundreds of device/OS/browser combinations. Managing an in-house device-lab is expensive, resource intensive, restrictive and very manual. Kobiton allows for instant provisioning of real devices for testing with automated or manual scripts, and also allows current on-premise devices to be plugged in to form a holistic testing cloud.
    See all alternatives