The mobile analytics services market is crowded with dozens of offerings and thousands of metrics designed for a variety of users. IT administrators use analytics services to ensure apps remain up and running; data analysts aggregate them with other data sets to discover connections and predict future outcomes; and business stakeholders use them to see the impact of marketing activities and evaluate progress toward business goals.
However, mobile analytics has much to offer for another group: mobile app developers. While analytics needs among developers vary based on their roles and responsibilities, there are at least seven things mobile analytics can offer to almost every app developer:
1. Crash monitoring
Nothing is more visible or carries a greater negative impact in the minds of app users than a crash. Frequent crashes can be catastrophic to an app’s ratings and to the reputation of its developer. As such, it is important to be aware if crashes occur in your app and be able to quickly resolve them.
Good crash analytics will aggregate crashes into high-level issues and help developers prioritize fixes by presenting the number of users affected. However, simply knowing your app has a crash problem isn’t good enough, which brings up the second value point of analytics: troubleshooting.
Mobile analytics can guide app developers in finding the root cause of issues surfaced in the metrics. In the case of crashes, basic information about the affected devices, operating systems and app versions is helpful, but even more useful is rapid drill down to specific and detailed information such as stack traces. If stack traces are insufficient, giving developers the ability to access client logs from within the analytics console can save time. Some mobile analytics services also offer the ability to access server logs from a mobile app server, which allows developers to gain insight into back-end activity associated with a problematic client-side call.
3. Back-end performance analysis
Apps are becoming more and more sophisticated, which has led to an increased reliance on back-end services to perform heavy lifting tasks such as speech analysis. Developers must be keenly aware of their app’s interaction with the back end because latency or outages in services often directly affect the app user.
By monitoring things such as network request round-trip time — the time it takes for the app to receive a response after sending a network request — developers can quickly identify and investigate anomalies in back-end server responses and work with service owners to resolve issues.
4. App version adoption trends
Developers are often saddled with supporting several versions of their app. At some point, the developer or his or her team will have to decide when to stop fixing bugs and updating older app versions — mobile analytics that compare app use across versions provide the data developers need to make an informed decision. Rather than simply stating an arbitrary time frame for the deprecation of an older app version, developers using mobile analytics can opt for a more user-centered approach through which they set a minimum active user threshold as the criteria for deprecation.
5. Mobile platform usage data
Platform vendors are constantly improving their offerings, and each new release brings a plethora of new features app developers are hungry to consume. However, mobile device users do not immediately adopt new platform versions, so developers must be wary of the distribution of platform adoption in their user base so they can understand what portion of current users will or will not be able to enjoy a feature brought by the latest version.
6. Custom events
Although mobile analytics packages come with a multitude of predefined metrics, one size does not usually fit all for app developers. These professionals need ways to instrument their app to report exactly what they want, when they want it. Developers can use custom information to enhance debugging or report which features are used most and which are used least. A complete mobile analytics package will provide an easy way to collect and consume this type of custom information.
In today’s mobile environment, apps succeed or fail based on speed, both in implementation and in responding to customer satisfaction issues. A brief period of a poor user experience can affect an app’s reputation for months or more. Therefore, monitoring key metrics such as crash rates is paramount because it lets app developers take quick action. Alerts tied to mobile analytics drastically improve time-to-action because they notify developers immediately when a problem is detected or can even initiate actions on the developer’s behalf.
Mobile analytics services give app developers the information they need to keep their apps healthy and their users satisfied. Without analytics, developers run the risk of making poor development decisions and permanently tarnishing their app’s reputation.