As a DevOps-minded team, you can’t foster effective collaboration, communication, and shared responsibility without the right tooling as a foundation. In the case of the mobile industry – where unique and specific software, hardware, and ecosystem constraints exist – choosing the right tools to make up your Mobile DevOps stack is especially important, to empower and bring together your engineers, product managers, QA folks, and other stakeholders.
And there’s much more to a complete Mobile DevOps stack than just CI/CD. You need specific tooling to power each stage of the development lifecycle, from ideating and building, through testing, to release and rollout. In this piece, we’ll take a look at the best Mobile DevOps tools for every stage of the development and release lifecycle – by the time you finish reading, you’ll have a good sense of top options available for each and every piece of a complete Mobile DevOps toolchain.
Here’s a quick preview of the top tooling options you’ll find below, grouped by category:
- Project Management & Issue Tracking: Jira, Linear, Asana, Shortcut, Pivotal Tracker
- Communication & Collaboration: Slack, Microsoft Teams
- Version Control & Source Code Management: GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, Azure Repos
- Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery (CI/CD): Jenkins, Xcode Cloud, GitLab CI, GitHub Actions, CircleCI, Travis CI, Bitrise, fastlane
- Testing & Quality Assurance (QA): Appium, Testrail, Xray, Espresso, XCTest, BrowserStack, Maestro, Mobot
- Feature Flagging: LaunchDarkly, Optimizely, Firebase Remote Config
- Distribution: Microsoft App Center, TestFlight, Google Play Console, Firebase App Distribution
- Stability & Observability: Firebase Crashlytics, Embrace.io, Datadog, Sentry, Bugsnag, New Relic
- Product Analytics: Amplitude, Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Adobe Analytics
- Security & Compliance: NowSecure, Checkmarx, Veracode
- Mobile DevOps Control Center: Runway
What is Mobile DevOps?
Mobile DevOps as a concept isn’t the most consistently defined, even among teams that claim to practice it. Generally, it describes a set of guiding principles that help mobile teams build, test, and release apps more efficiently and reliably. At their core, Mobile DevOps principles promote the breaking down of silos across departments and teams, shortening iteration cycles and parallelizing workflows, and using automation wherever possible. For mobile teams – who struggle with gated release processes, tricky device and operating system (OS) fragmentation, and an extremely competitive business landscape – adopting Mobile DevOps practices has become a key part of building and shipping successful apps at scale.
Practicing Mobile DevOps effectively requires changes in both team culture and tooling – and your approach to tooling can make the cultural piece easier. Choose tools that help strike the right balance between automation and collaboration across every stage of the development and release process.
A brief outline of the development lifecycle under Mobile DevOps
A core element of Mobile DevOps is the idea that development should be iterative and asynchronous where possible, with shorter and more frequent release cycles that don’t sacrifice product quality. As things speed up and become more parallelized, it can be helpful to keep key stages of the development lifecycle in mind – and these stages also map nicely to the different tools you’ll want to add to your toolchain. A typical mobile development and release workflow that follows Mobile DevOps principles looks something like this:
- Plan: This stage involves defining business value and requirements for a feature or set of features, and often leverages project management tools to break down features into discrete tasks that can be completed over a period of time
Tooling: Project Management & Issue Tracking, Communication & Collaboration.
- Create: In this stage, software is developed and features are built using continuous development practices, with developers, testers, and product designers working together.
Tooling: Version Control & Source Code Management, Project Management & Issue Tracking.
- Verify: Continuous integration and testing are performed to ensure new features meet functional, reliability and quality expectations. Security verification can also be part of this stage.
Tooling: CI/CD, Testing & QA, Security & Compliance
- Package: The software is prepared for release, including approval, pre-approvals, and package configuration like enabling required feature flags.
Tooling: CI/CD, Feature Flagging, Security & Compliance
- Release: This stage involves scheduling, orchestrating, provisioning, and releasing the software into production.
Tooling: CI/CD, Feature Flagging, Distribution.
- Monitor: Continuous monitoring is performed to collect data on the software's performance to make sure it meets reliability standards in a production environment. Product teams will also monitor the business performance of changes using Product Analytics tools which often informs the next iteration of development
Tooling: Stability & Observability, Product Analytics.
The best Mobile DevOps tools by category
Teams looking to construct a toolchain to support Mobile DevOps practices will need specific tools for each stage of the software development lifecycle, from “plan” to “monitor” and everything in between. Read on for a complete summary of the top tools mobile teams use for every stage of the Mobile DevOps lifecycle, with a brief overview of each. Note that these tools are platform-agnostic – you can use them to build and ship for Android, iOS, and other Google or Apple platforms – unless otherwise stated.
Project Management and Issue Tracking
These tools help manage, plan, and organize software development projects. They assist with tracking issues, bugs, and feature requests, as well as assigning tasks and monitoring progress.
- Jira: A powerful project management and issue tracking tool that allows agile teams to plan, track, and manage software projects effectively.
- Linear: A project management and issue tracking tool designed for software development teams, offering a simple and intuitive interface, real-time collaboration, and integration with popular tools like Slack and GitHub.
- Asana: A flexible project management tool that helps small-to-midsize teams plan and manage tasks, track progress, and collaborate efficiently.
- Shortcut: F.K.A. Clubhouse, a comprehensive project management platform for teams, featuring sprint planning and roadmapping functionality.
- Pivotal Tracker: A project management tool specifically designed for agile development teams, providing real-time collaboration and task tracking.
Communication and Collaboration
These tools facilitate communication and collaboration among team members, enabling efficient knowledge sharing and real-time updates.
- Slack: A messaging platform for teams that allows easy communication, file sharing, and integration with other tools.
- Microsoft Teams: A communication and collaboration platform that offers chat, video meetings, and integration with other Microsoft services and third-party apps.
Version Control and Source Code Management:
These tools help manage changes to source code, enabling multiple developers to collaborate efficiently and track the history of changes.
- GitHub: A widely-used platform that offers distributed version control, issue tracking, and collaboration features for software development.
- GitLab: An open source code repository and collaborative software development platform with version control features.
- Bitbucket: A web-based version control repository hosting service that provides Git and Mercurial support, along with integrated Jira, Trello, and Slack integrations.
- Azure Repos: A source code management tool within Microsoft Azure DevOps, providing Git and Team Foundation Version Control repositories, along with integrated pull requests, code review, and branching policies.
Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)
Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) tools automate the process of integrating, building, testing, and distributing your app, speeding up the development process and safeguarding against bugs and other quality issues.
- GitHub Actions: A CI/CD platform native to GitHub, allowing teams to automate workflows and tasks directly from their repositories.
- Jenkins: An open-source automation server that provides a wide range of plugins for building, deploying, and automating software projects. Fewer bells and whistles out of the box, more DIY flexibility.
- Xcode Cloud: Apple’s own continuous integration and delivery service for iOS, macOS, and tvOS apps that automates building, testing, and deploying directly from Xcode.
- GitLab CI: A continuous integration and deployment tool built into GitLab, offering a wide range of features and integrations.
- CircleCI: A cloud-based CI/CD service that automates the build, test, and deployment process for software projects.
- Travis CI: A hosted continuous integration service that supports multiple programming languages and integrates with GitHub.
- Bitrise: A mobile-focused CI/CD platform designed to automate building, testing, and deploying mobile apps.
- fastlane: A much-loved, open-source CLI tool for automating common build, test, and deployment processes for iOS and Android apps.
For a closer look at top CI/CD providers, read more here!
Testing and QA
These tools support the testing and quality assurance process, helping teams identify and fix issues before software is released.
- Appium: An open-source mobile testing framework that supports native, hybrid, and mobile web apps for iOS and Android platforms.
- Espresso: A testing framework for Android apps that provides a set of APIs for writing UI tests to simulate user interactions.
- XCTest: Apple’s own testing framework that allows developers to write various kinds of tests, including UI tests that validate user interactions and app behavior.
- Maestro: A mobile app testing platform that automates functional and performance testing, enabling developers to detect and resolve issues early in the development process.
- Mobot: A mobile app testing solution that uses AI-powered bots to simulate real user interactions and scenarios, improving test coverage and reducing manual testing efforts.
- TestRail: A comprehensive test case management tool that helps teams manage, track, and organize software testing efforts.
- Xray: A test management app for Jira that enables teams to plan, execute, and report on software testing within the Jira environment.
- BrowserStack: A cloud-based manual testing platform that allows developers to test their web and mobile applications on real devices and browsers.
Feature flagging tools enable teams to control the release of new features or changes without redeploying the entire application.
- LaunchDarkly: A feature management platform that allows teams to control feature rollout, target specific user segments, and run experiments.
- Optimizely: An experimentation and feature flagging platform that enables teams to test and release new features safely and efficiently.
- Firebase Remote Config: A cloud service under the Firebase umbrella that allows developers to modify the behavior and appearance of their apps without requiring users to download an update.
These tools help developers distribute their mobile applications to testers through various channels.
- Microsoft App Center: A comprehensive platform that offers continuous distribution (as well as continuous integration and automated testing) for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS and other platforms.
- TestFlight: An Apple service that allows developers to invite testers to try out iOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps before they are released publicly on the App Store.
- Google Play Console: The official platform for distributing Android apps, offering tools for managing distribution across different testing “tracks”.
- Firebase App Distribution: A service within Firebase that streamlines the distribution of pre-release versions of Android and iOS apps to testers, enabling developers to collect feedback and identify issues before releasing publicly on the App Store or Google Play Store.
Stability and Observability
These tools help monitor the performance and stability of applications, enabling developers to identify and resolve issues that may affect the end-user experience.
- Firebase Crashlytics: A lightweight, real-time crash reporting tool that helps developers track, prioritize, and fix stability issues in their apps.
- Datadog: A monitoring and analytics platform that provides full-stack observability and helps developers troubleshoot and optimize application performance.
- Sentry: An open-source error tracking tool that helps developers monitor and fix crashes in real-time.
- Bugsnag: A software stability management platform that offers error monitoring and diagnostic tools for mobile, web, and server applications.
- Embrace.io: A mobile application performance management (APM) solution that offers real-time monitoring, diagnostics, and error reporting to help developers optimize app performance and user experience.
- New Relic: A performance monitoring and analytics platform that provides insights into application performance, user experience, and business outcomes.
These tools help teams understand user behavior and engagement, allowing them to optimize their applications and make data-driven product decisions.
- Amplitude: A product analytics platform that provides insights into user behavior, enabling teams to optimize user experience and drive growth.
- Google Analytics: A web analytics service that offers insights into user behavior, traffic sources, and user engagement across web and mobile apps.
- Mixpanel: A user analytics platform that helps developers understand how users interact with their applications, providing insights to optimize user experience and drive user engagement
- Adobe Analytics: An all-in-one, comprehensive analytics platform with a focus on surfacing business intelligence based on user behavior.
Security and Compliance
These tools help ensure that mobile applications are secure and compliant with industry standards and regulations, protecting sensitive data and reducing the risk of security breaches. The DevSecOps movement expands on DevOps principles to encourage the integration of security testing into each part of the dev and release process, making security a shared responsibility across the team.
- NowSecure: A mobile app security testing platform that provides automated security testing, vulnerability assessment, and compliance monitoring.
- Checkmarx: A software security platform that offers static and dynamic application security testing, interactive application security testing, and open-source analysis.
- Veracode: A cloud-based application security platform that provides a suite of solutions for static, dynamic, and interactive application security testing, as well as software composition analysis.
Putting it all together: Runway, a centralized hub for your entire Mobile DevOps toolchain
Mobile DevOps success requires having the right tools in place at each stage of the development lifecycle – and then effectively leveraging them all together and collaborating across them. But when each stage of the process requires a different specialized tool, it can be difficult to pull everything together to get a big-picture understanding of your team’s entire dev and release process. Without a single source of truth, collaboration becomes more difficult as team members need to know where to look – or, more often, who else to bug – for a given kind of information. Spreading information across multiple different tools also increases cognitive load, which reduces productivity and negatively impacts developer happiness.
In order to practice Mobile DevOps successfully at scale, a holistic solution is needed – one that pulls together all these moving pieces to provide a single source of truth, in turn helping to eliminate silos, foster collaboration, and better leverage automation where it makes sense to do so. Sound familiar?
Runway is an end-to-end release management platform for mobile teams – a home for your Mobile DevOps practice. By integrating seamlessly with your existing Mobile DevOps stack, Runway allows you to manage the entire release process through a single dashboard. By automatically pulling together important data from all your tools – from project management, to version control, CI/CD, QA, the app stores, stability monitoring and other tools – Runway creates a holistic view of your mobile team’s workflow and your app’s release health over time. Plus, powerful automations help eliminate manual tasks that teams find themselves performing time and time again.
We have helped teams like Gusto, ClassPass, Faire, and Kickstarter improve collaboration, streamline rollouts, and foster visibility across feature teams and functions. Want to learn more about how Runway can help your mobile team upgrade its Mobile DevOps practice? Book a demo with us!