Automating Mobile Web Apps

Go back to tutorial

If you’re interested in automating your web app in Mobile Safari on iOS or Chrome on Android, Appium can help you. Basically, you write a normal WebDriver test, and use Appium as the Selenium server with a special set of desired capabilities.

iOS mobile web automation

Appium can automate the Safari browser on real and simulated iOS devices. It is accessed by setting the browserName desired capabilty to “Safari” while leaving the app capability empty.

You must run Safari on the device before attempting to use Appium, in order for the correct preferences to have been set.

Then, use desired capabilities like these to run your test in mobile Safari, in Java:

DesiredCapabilities capabilities = new DesiredCapabilities();

capabilities.setCapability(MobileCapabilityType.PLATFORM_NAME, “iOS”);

capabilities.setCapability(MobileCapabilityType.PLATFORM_VERSION, “11.0”);

capabilities.setCapability(MobileCapabilityType.BROWSER_NAME, “Safari”);

capabilities.setCapability(MobileCapabilityType.DEVICE_NAME, “iPhone 8”);

Mobile Safari on Simulator – First of all, make sure developer mode is turned on in your Safari preferences so that the remote debugger port is open.

Mobile Safari on a Real iOS Device – For iOS 9.3 and below (pre-XCUITest), we use the SafariLauncher App app to launch Safari and run tests against mobile Safari. This is because Safari is an app that is owned by Apple, and Instruments cannot launch it on real devices. Once Safari has been launched by SafariLauncher, the Remote Debugger automatically connects using the ios-webkit-debug-proxy. When working with ios-webkit-debug-proxy, you have to trust the machine before you can can run tests against your iOS device.

Before you can run your tests against Safari on a real device you will need to:

  • Have the ios-webkit-debug-proxy installed, running and listening on port 27753
  • Turn on web inspector on iOS device (settings > safari > advanced)
  • Make sure that SafariLauncher will work

Running your test – To configure you test to run against safari simply set the “browserName” to be “Safari”, in Java

//setup the web driver and launch the webview app.

DesiredCapabilities desiredCapabilities = new DesiredCapabilities();

desiredCapabilities.setCapability(MobileCapabilityType.BROWSER_NAME, “Safari”);

URL url = new URL(“”);

AppiumDriver driver = new AppiumDriver(url, desiredCapabilities);

// Navigate to the page and interact with the elements on the guinea-pig page using id.


WebElement div = driver.findElement(“i_am_an_id”));

Assert.assertEquals(“I am a div”, div.getText()); //check the text retrieved matches expected value

driver.findElement(“comments”)).sendKeys(“My comment”); //populate the comments field by id.

//close the app.


Android mobile web automation

Appium supports automating the Chrome browser both real and emulated Android devices.


  • Make sure Chrome is installed on your device or emulator.
  • Chromedriver needs to be installed (a default version comes with Appium) and configured for automating the specific version of Chrome available on the device.

Then, use desired capabilties like these to run your test in Chrome:

DesiredCapabilities capabilities = new DesiredCapabilities();

capabilities.setCapability(MobileCapabilityType.PLATFORM_NAME, “Android”);

capabilities.setCapability(MobileCapabilityType.PLATFORM_VERSION, “4.4”);

capabilities.setCapability(MobileCapabilityType.DEVICE_NAME, “Android Emulator”);

capabilities.setCapability(MobileCapabilityType.BROWSER_NAME, “Chrome”);

Note that on 4.4+ devices, you can also use the ‘Browser’ browserName cap to automate the built-in browser. On all devices you can use the ‘Chromium’ browserName cap to automate a build of Chromium which you have installed.

Troubleshooting Chromedriver – As of Chrome version 33, a rooted device is no longer required. If running tests on older versions of Chrome, devices needed to be rooted as Chromedriver required write access to the /data/local directory to set Chrome’s command line arguments.

If testing on Chrome app prior to version 33, ensure adb shell has read/write access to /data/local directory on the device:

$ adb shell su -c chmod 777 /data/local

There is a desired capability showChromedriverLog which, when set to true, writes the Chromedriver logs inline with the Appium logs. This can be helpful for debugging.

Go back to tutorial

Get industry recognized certification – Contact us