Android Unit Testing 101

Written by Elliot Tormey on March 7th, 2016

On a recent project for Kitman Labs we were asked to add automated testing to the application we were developing. It is rare that a client would ask for this – mostly because of the additional cost of including automated testing to a project. However, the increase in initial costs should be viewed as a sensible investment in your app. Over the lifetime of any product there will invariably be multiple maintenance cycles and several updates. Automated testing has the potential to save time and in turn money, by allowing a developer to quickly verify that the app is functioning as intended. What could take hours or days to be tested manually only takes minutes to complete with automated testing.

What is Unit Testing?

In simple terms, unit testing is a process by which individual units of code (a single method within your application) are tested to determine whether they are fit for use. To complete a unit test, call the method from within your test class and pass the results into an assertion (a type of IF statement) along with the expected result. This will then return a Boolean value depending on whether the expected result matches the actual result. For Android unit testing you only test the Java APIs used within the application. This distinguishes it from instrumentation testing which has access to Instrumentation information, such as the Context of the app under test.


When you create a new project in Android Studio, Google by default adds the jUnit dependency. There are other libraries that can be added to give you more power when testing, but for purposes of this blog we will focus on jUnit. If it is not already present in your project, add the following to you app/build.gradle under dependencies:

testCompile ‘junit:junit:4.12’

Notice that we use ‘testCompile’  instead of ‘compile’ when adding the library. This denotes that the dependency will be used for unit testing and will only allow the library to be compiled for the relevant usage. A library with ‘testCompile’ will not be available to regular classes outside of the unit test package. When writing test classes there are two separate packages available to you that again are auto generated.

You have:

app/src/androidTest (Used for instrumentation testing)


app/src/test (Used for unit testing)

These are the packages Gradle will use to run the relevant test environments and generate HTML documents based on the results. These reports can be found at:


When creating test classes it is a good idea to mirror the folder structure of the classes being tested with the class name. This will make it easier to know which class is being tested and where they are located in the main application.

For example, if you had a class at the below location:


You would create a test class at the following location:


Note the ‘Test’ label is appended to the end of the class name, this is to differentiate it from a ‘normal’ class.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 16.28.46

When writing test methods within the test class, you must annotate them with @Test. If a method does not have this annotation it will not be called when you run your tests. In the below example only the first method will called – the second will not.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 16.12.24

As we are using the  jUnit method ‘assertEquals’, we need to statically import this method using the below code:

import static org.junit.Assert.assertEquals;

A full list of the methods in the jUnit Assert class are available here.

There are two more annotations available to you: @Before and @After. Methods annotated with @Before will get called before every test method while methods annotated @After will get called after every test method. These are used to ‘setUp’ (@Before) and ‘tearDown’ (@After) the test environment and while they are not necessary they can cut down on the amount of code required for each test method.

For example, consider the below test methods that are both expecting their assertions to return the same value.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 09.47.34

By adding a setUp method to your class you can assign a value to the variable ‘expectedResult’ which is now callable by the test methods. The tearDown method will reset the variable so when setUp is next called it will be starting afresh.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 09.50.58

Running the Tests

There are three different ways to run your unit tests:

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 16.29.05

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 16.41.40

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 16.29.26

If you’d like to discuss adding unit tests to your app then get in touch!

Image Credit: Kham Tran on Flickr

Let us build your app

We offer native app development for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone; with full service from idea generation through to getting your app on the App Store. If you’d like to discuss your app development needs, get in touch.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.