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Get started with Robo tests

Robo test is a testing tool that is integrated with Firebase Test Lab. Robo test analyzes the structure of your app's UI and then explores it methodically, automatically simulating user activities. Unlike the UI/Application Exerciser Monkey test, Robo test always simulates the same user activities in the same order when you use it to test an app on a specific device configuration with the same settings. This lets you use Robo test to validate bug fixes and test for regressions in a way that isn't possible when testing with the UI/Application Exerciser Monkey test.

Robo test captures log files, saves a series of annotated screenshots, and then creates a video from those screenshots to show you the simulated user operations that it performed. These logs, screenshots, and videos can help you to determine the root cause if your app crashes, and can also help you to find issues with your app's UI.

Robo test crawl stats

To help you interpret your Robo test results, Robo records stats during each test crawl. Test Lab displays the stats at the top of the Robo tab in your test's results page:

  • Actions: The total number of actions performed during the crawl, including Robo script actions, monkey actions, and Robo directives.
  • Activities: The number of distinct activities covered during the crawl.
  • Screens: The number of distinct screens visited during the crawl.

Test Lab also uses the stats to create a visual representation of the Robo crawl in the form of a crawl graph. The graph has screens as its nodes and actions as edges. By following the edges between screens, you can get an idea of how Robo traversed your app throughout the crawl.

Robo test timeout

Depending on the complexity of your app's UI, Robo test might take five minutes or more to complete a thorough set of UI interactions. We recommend setting the test timeout to at least 120 seconds (2 minutes) for most apps, and 300 seconds (5 minutes) for moderately complex apps. The default value for timeout is 300 seconds (5 minutes) for tests run from Android Studio and the Google Developer Console, and 1500 seconds (25 minutes) for tests run from the gcloud command line.

App start-up timeout errors

If your app takes a long time to start, Robo can throw an error, and won't be able to crawl your app. This only happens in cases of extremely long start-up time, and can only be resolved by revising your app to make it start faster.

More control with Robo scripts

Sometimes you need more control over your tests. For example, you might want to test a common user journey or provide specific UI input like a username and password. Robo scripts can help.

With Robo scripts, you record yourself walking through a workflow in your app, then upload that recording to the Firebase console to run in Robo tests. When you run a Robo test with a script attached, Robo first steps through your pre-scripted actions then proceeds to explore the app as usual.

Get started with Robo scripting through the Firebase tool in Android Studio:

  1. Open Android Studio.
  2. In the main menu, select Tools > Firebase.
  3. Select Test Lab and click Record Robo Script and use it to Guide Robo Test.
  4. Follow the rest of the steps in the tool to record your Robo Script.
  5. Upload that Robo Script to Test Lab and start your test.

Robo script errors

If a Robo script fails at any point, Test Lab abandons all further steps in the script, and resumes a regular Robo crawl. Most often, Robo scripts fail because Test Lab isn't able to find a necessary element on the screen. To avoid failures, make sure that your app navigation is predictable and that your screens aren't shown in some non-deterministic order.

Robo tests and non-Android UI widgets

Robo tests use the Android API to perform actions on Android UI widgets directly. That helps the tests explore your UI automatically, but also means that they need to be able to extract an Android UI hierarchy for a screen in order to run tests on it.

If a screen in your app doesn't use Android UI widgets, Robo tests fall back on Monkey Actions to test that screen. Unlike the more methodical Robo actions, Monkey Actions simply simulate tap events on semi-random locations on a device's screen.

To better test screens that don't use Android UI widgets, you can replace the arbitrary taps of a Monkey Action with a set of scripted taps and interactions through Firebase Test Lab Game Loop Tests.

Integration with Google Play

You can use Robo test in the Google Play Console when you upload and publish your app's APK file using either the alpha or beta channel. Robo test runs on a set of popular physical devices from different geographic locations, providing test coverage across various form factors and hardware configurations. To learn more, see Use pre-launch reports to identify issues.

Test account sign-in and predefined text input

Robo test supports test account sign-in, and also allows you to enter predefined text into fields in your app. For custom sign-in and other predefined text input, Robo test can enter text into EditText fields in your app. For each string, you need to identify the EditText field using an Android resource name. To learn more, see Accessing Resources.


Robo test has two mutually-exclusive methods to support sign-in:

  • Custom sign-in: If you provide test account credentials, you need to tell Robo test where to enter them, and also provide those credentials.
  • Automatic sign-in: If your app has a sign-in screen that uses a Google account for authentication, Robo test uses a Google test account, unless you provide test account credentials for custom sign-in.

To provide test account credentials for custom sign-in, do the following:

  1. On the Select dimensions page, choose Additional options.
  2. Under Test account credentials (Optional), enter the username and password resource names and the username and password for the test account.

Predefined text input

You can provide custom input text for other text fields used by your app. To provide text input for additional fields, do the following:

  1. On the Select dimensions page, choose Additional options.
  2. Under Additional fields (Optional), enter one or more resource names, and the strings to enter in the corresponding text fields.

Predefined text input errors

Robo searches for EditText fields with an Android resource name that matches a supplied regular expression. If Robo can't find a matching field, it doesn't input your text, but otherwise continues its crawl as usual.

You can provide up to three deep links supported by your app for testing. Deep links are issued to your app as Android ACTION_VIEW intents. Therefore, each link must match an intent filter in your app.

If one or more deep links are provided, the app is first launched normally (using the ACTION_MAIN intent) and crawled up to the specified timeout. After the main crawl, each deep link is crawled for an additional 30 seconds each.

If Robo can't find an activity matching your deep link, Test Lab ignores the link. Deep link issues are usually the result of a discrepancy between the provided deep link and its definition in your app. Check both the provided URL and your app for typos or other inconsistencies.

App licensing support

Test Lab supports apps that use the App Licensing service offered by Google Play. To successfully check licensing when testing your app with Test Lab, you must publish your app to the production channel in the Play store. To test your app in the alpha or beta channel using Test Lab, remove the licensing check before uploading your app to Test Lab.

Known issues

Robo test currently has the following known limitations:

  • UI framework support. Robo test is only compatible with apps that use UI elements from the Android UI framework (including View and ViewGroup objects, but excluding WebView objects). If you use Robo test to exercise apps that use other UI frameworks, including apps that use the Unity game engine, the test may exit without exploring beyond the first screen.
  • Sign-in Captchas. Robo test cannot bypass sign-in screens that require additional user action beyond entering credentials to sign in (such as completing a Captcha).