Posted in:

A Comparison of Appium, Espresso, and XCUITest for Mobile Testing

© by Shutterstock

In the present fast-paced technological landscape, mobile applications have become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Testing mobile applications has become a crucial aspect of software development with an increasing number of smartphones and mobile devices. Mobile app testing is an intricate process that mandates a comprehensive understanding of different testing frameworks and tools to guarantee that applications deliver an optimal end-user experience across various devices and platforms. 

Among the prevalent mobile app testing frameworks available in the market, Appium, Espresso, and XCUITest are the most widely employed. Each framework delivers distinctive features that make it suitable for specific use cases. Nevertheless, selecting the suited tool for a particular project can be tedious and daunting for software developers and testers. 

This blog will compare the three most popular mobile testing frameworks, Appium, Espresso, and XCUITest, to help you determine the right framework for you. We will also explore the fundamental differences between the three and when and why you should utilize them in your testing environment.

Appium: Cross-Platform Automation Tool

Appium is a highly effective cross-platform automation tool that authorizes developers and testers to automate mobile applications across myriad platforms, including iOS and Android. It is an open-source mobile test automation framework that stimulates the development of high-quality mobile applications by furnishing a unified solution for testing native and hybrid mobile apps. Appium is based on the WebDriver protocol and furnishes various abilities, including UI testing, functional testing, and regression testing.

Appium authorizes using myriad programming languages, such as Java, Python, Ruby, and C#. This makes it a versatile and convenient tool for developers and testers of all levels. Its compatibility with different programming languages, platforms, and testing frameworks guarantees that it remains a preferred choice for cross-platform mobile app testing. 

Appium adheres to the Selenium W3C protocol. This feature authorizes the utilization of identical testing code for both Android and iOS apps. Appium employs Espresso or UIAutomator2 for communication with Android applications and XCUI for iOS, operating beneath the surface. In a nutshell, Appium furnishes a steady WebDriver interface and automation backends provided by Apple and Google.

Benefits of Appium

Appium is an open-source test automation framework utilized for mobile application testing across various platforms, such as Android and iOS. It offers a wide range of benefits that make it a go-to tool for developers and testers looking to automate their mobile app testing processes. Here are a few benefits of Appium: 

  • Open Source: Appium is an open-source and free-of-cost framework. This implies that it can be effortlessly downloaded and used. Appium does not require any additional installation on a device as it is developed and maintained by a strong community.
  • Flexible: The framework supports various programming languages such as Java, Python, C#, PHP, and more. This provides an easy option for developers and testers to choose the programming language of their choice. 
  • Easy to Comprehend: Appium is entirely compatible with Selenium WebDriver, which means that all the features of Selenium are also available in Appium. Consequently, if you are familiar with Selenium concepts, you will find Appium to be user-friendly and easy to comprehend.
  • Cross-Platform Support: The test script written on Appium can run on Android and iOS without any code modification. With the help of Appium, testers and developers can execute multiple tests on multiple platforms simultaneously. 
  • Record and Playback: Appium provides a record and playback feature. Inspectors can be utilized to accelerate testing endeavors through record and playback functionality in the framework. Appium records the behavior of the native application by inspecting the Document Object Model (DOM).
  • Integration with CI Tools: Appium can seamlessly integrate with various CI (continuous integration) tools, such as Jenkins and Bamboo. This integration authorizes the automation of test triggering during release cycles, resulting in a more efficient and streamlined process.

Limitations of Appium

Everything in the world has some pros and cons. This saying is true for Appium as well. It is important to consider the drawbacks of the framework before using it. Here are a few limitations of Appium that developers and testers need to keep in mind while using it for testing:

  • Configuration and time required to set up Appium for Android and iOS is complicated.
  • At a time, only one iOS device can be executed in Appium.
  • Appium inspector can’t be executed on Windows.
  • Unfortunately, there is no automation support available for Android versions 4.1 or earlier.

Espresso: Focused on Android Testing

Espresso is a mobile testing framework that is concentrated on testing Android applications. The framework is a part of the Android Testing Support Library and has been developed to work seamlessly with Android Studio. Espresso delivers a speedy and steadfast way to write UI tests for Android applications. It has a straightforward and intuitive API that authorizes developers to write tests in a concise and readable way. 

The framework utilizes a combination of ViewMatchers and ViewActions to interact with the UI elements of the application. Espresso also supports asynchronous testing, which authorizes tests to wait for a precise condition to be met before continuing with the test execution. This feature makes it leisurely to test applications with complicated user interactions or rely on external data sources. Overall, Espresso is an outstanding choice for developers who test Android applications and want a fast, reliable, and easy-to-use testing framework.

Benefits of Espresso

Espresso furnishes numerous benefits to both Android automation testing engineers and developers. Here are some of the benefits of utilizing Espresso:

  • Easy to Utilize: Espresso testing authorizes developers to create a test suite as an independent APK. The best thing about this APK is that it can be installed on the devices alongside the app under test. Also, it can be executed swiftly.
  • Fast Feedback: Espresso provides developers and testers fast feedback on their code modifications. This assists them to move on to the next feature or issue and fix it quickly. Additionally, the framework does not need any server, such as Selenium Remote WebDriver, to communicate with. Rather, Espresso runs side-by-side with the application and furnishes test results in minutes to the developer.
  • Stable Testing: Espresso mobile test automation delivers a synchronized way of execution. This results in high stability rates in the test cycle. Espresso features an intrinsic mechanism that verifies the display of an Element or Object on the screen before advancing to the subsequent step in the test. This approach prevents disruptions in test execution caused by errors such as “object not found” and other similar issues.
  • Development is Easy: Developing Espresso is quite leisurely. It is based on Junit and Java, which is a core skill set for any Android application developer. There is no ramping up or set up and no “excuses” because Espresso operates seamlessly in the Android Studio IDE. It is worth noting the existence of a sizable community supported by Google, which actively promotes the use of the Espresso test automation framework. This provides a convenient and efficient pathway for beginners to learn and adopt the framework.

Limitations of Espresso

Espresso is a popular open-source testing framework that facilitates developers to automate UI testing for Android applications. As a result, it has become a go-to tool for numerous software development teams striving to enhance the efficiency and quality of their testing processes. However, like any tool, Espresso has its limitations that developers must be aware of and work around to maximize its benefits. 

Here are a few:

  • It is only compatible with Kotlin and Java. This implies that developers can write test cases in these two languages only.
  • It can only be utilized to test Android applications. This means that if you are developing an application that will be listed on both Android and iOS, then you need to find other frameworks to ensure its compatibility across different operating systems.

XCUITest: Designed for iOS Testing

XCUITest is a powerful and steadfast testing framework designed specifically for iOS applications. It delivers a wide range of features and capabilities that make it an outstanding choice for testing mobile applications on Apple devices. One of the pivotal advantages of XCUITest is its ability to automate tests on multiple devices simultaneously, authorizing swifter and more efficient testing. 

XCUITest delivers a rich set of APIs and tools that make it easy to write, execute, and manage tests. It incorporates seamlessly with Apple’s development tools and processes. Furthermore, XCUITest furnishes a highly stable and consistent testing environment, ensuring that tests run smoothly and reliably across different devices and iOS versions. Overall, XCUITest is a valuable tool for iOS developers and testers scrutinizing to ensure the quality and performance of their mobile applications.

Benefits of XCUITest

There are myriad mobile app testing frameworks available in the market. Development teams use the XCUITest framework to achieve quick and steadfast feedback on code modifications. Below are some of the benefits of XCUITest:

  • Easy Setup and Maintenance: The framework was designed to facilitate UI testing for iOS applications. It guarantees that the tests are executed exceptionally well. Therefore, tests are stable, reliable, and performed faster.
  • Faster Execution of iOS Tests: The XCUITest framework was developed to streamline UI testing for iOS applications. Its sole focus on UI testing for iOS apps guarantees superior test performance. As a result, tests are reliable, stable, and executed faster.

Limitations of XCUITest

While XCUITest has many benefits and has helped many developers improve their work, it is necessary to recognize that it also has its limitations. Here are a few:

  • XCUITest does not support Android application testing. 
  • The framework can only write test cases in Swift or Objective-C programming language. 
  • It is not suited for regression testing on real devices.

You can leverage the true capability of Appium, Espresso, and XCUITest with a cloud-based platform like LambdaTest. It is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform that allows automation testing, and here, you can execute Appium, Espresso, and XCUITest scripts on 3000+ real devices and OS combinations. It offers parallel testing across multiple devices and browsers when using the Appium, Espresso, and XCUITtest framework, increasing test coverage and saving. Sign up to LambdaTest for free to experience blazing-fast Android and iOS app automation testing.

Appium vs. Espresso vs. XCUITest Automation

Criteria Appium Espresso XCUITest
Supports IPA and APK APK APK
Language Any Java Swift/Objective-C
Setup Tough Easy Medium
Code Required No Yes Yes


Appium, Espresso, and XCUI can fulfill different requirements for UI testing. The best way to determine the suited framework is to evaluate the project’s needs. If the scope is limited only to one platform and the developers want embedded and comprehensive UI testing, Espresso or XCUI are great options. For cross-platform testing across Android, iOS, and Hybrid, Appium is the best choice.