SDKs offer so much when it comes to developing a mobile app. As the mobile app industry has evolved, the amount of third party tools available has reached mind-melting numbers. This is both a blessing and a challenge for app developers.
Selecting those SDKs that are right for you is a skill. You don’t want to integrate too many SDKs, so you won’t lose control of your app entirely. You don’t want to be overly cautious and miss important capabilities in your app as well…
At SafeDK, we analyzed hundreds of thousands of apps and SDKs. We’ve talked to countless mobile app developers. We’ve established our SafeDK Marketplace, the one-stop-shop to find the best SDKs for you. This is why we can offer you the following tips to find the SDKs that best fit your needs. Define them, understand them and finally – find the right SDKs for you.
1. First thing first – Compile an initial list of what you need
The very first thing to do is to compile a list of the services you consider implementing, based on your entire operational needs. Consider which features you would like your app to have. Most likely this list includes measurements and marketing tools, analytics SDKs, crash reporting and quite possibly advertising.
Most of what you define here is a must-have. You want to see how your app is doing; you want to make sure you’re stable; you want to capitalize back on your time and effort. There are a lot of great features SDKs might provide you with. Some of which you may not even be aware of until you suddenly find out they exist. And then you can’t imagine your app without them. Our SafeDK marketplace allows you to explore all SDK categories, so you can get an idea for specific enrichments you may want to have in your app.
Still not sure what kind of SDKs you need? Use the SafeDK App X-Ray to scan similar apps or popular ones to see what they use. This is another great way to gather ideas.
2. Condense your List
After gathering up a list of all the services you need, it’s time to find the SDKs that answer these needs and compile a list of potential candidates. For example, if you want analytics for your app, you’ll need to decide which analytics SDKs to implement. Would it be Flurry or Localytics? Maybe Crittercism is what you are looking for? Maybe not? Is Crashlytics the way to go to achieve crash reporting?
Yes, there are a LOT of options. If you’re having trouble deciding, take another glance at the SafeDK marketplace (which I hope you’ve already used to help you in step 1). You can use it to eliminate the low-rated SDKs, the ones with bad reviews and the ones that don’t offer exactly what you need.
Now start trimming down the list to get to a manageable number of listings.
Remember to check multiple parameters during the elimination process. Consider which criterion is more important to you. For example, if you see two SDKs offering you more or less the same enhancement, but see conflicting reviews – one uses too much network, the other sometimes slows down your app. Which is more important to you? Do you pride yourself on speed and efficiency? Do you want to avoid SDKs that access users’ location data often, or at all?
Pay attention to SDKs that make you add permissions to your app. Permissions that you request should be the ones you want and need, not the ones your SDKs demand (unless you believe you can gain more by requesting them, but that still should be an informed decision on your part). Note that for pre-Marshmallow Android devices, for instance, all added permissions will disable auto-update for your users, and might annoy both existing and potential users that are sensitive to granting endless permissions.
It is also very important to make sure your SDKs won’t get you banned from the stores. Pay special attention if your app has to comply with certain regulations (for instance, if you have an app for kids, you must comply with COPPA regulations, so make sure none of your SDKs is gathering location information on your users).
3. Tests Makes Us All Better Learners…
A/B tests are how we all get smarter. Science, evolution, mobile apps… Seeing is preferable to hearing and until you see how the SDKs you’re considering (or have actually already chosen) really behave, you won’t know for sure.
But it may not be so easy. Sure, you can spend days adding a single SDK to your app during development, seeing how it – and it alone – affects your app. But that’s a long process and you may not have the time. Then again, implementing multiple SDKs at once is great when they all perform really well, but what happens when one starts giving you trouble? How do you distinguish? And what if it’s several SDKs put together that’s the problem?
Using our in-app SDK control and protection module will enable you to get data on your SDKs.
First by analysis of the SDKs upon integration (for instance, whose the naughty one that’s accessing users’ private information, even though there was no mention of it in its documentation?). Second, by providing you live data on its behavior. You can test one or many, in development or in production.
“But what if I release with an SDK that somehow damages my app?” you ask. Well, that’s the great thing about the SafeDK In-App Protection. If you’re not particularly happy with one of your SDKs, you can simply turn it off with a simple click of a button, in real time, with no need for a version update. Happy with the SDK but don’t want it to access the user’s location anymore? No problem. With the same easy click of a button, turn off just the SDK’s ability to access the location, or any other component.
Watch how our in-app control and protection works:
4. The (SDK) Winner Takes It All!
So the list is ready, narrowed down and you’ve tested the various SDKs. Now it’s time to make your decision – which SDKs to keep and which to discard.
Evaluate cost vs. benefit; contemplate how your app feels, now that it’s integrated with these SDKs – has it improved? Is it more holistic? How is the user experience?
Consult with your team members. Bring up the important issues. How easy is the SDK to use? Were there any performance issues? Did you require support? How responsive was it? Will someone be there by your side when you experience hiccups on a rainy day?
More often it’s not going to be a black and white decision. Don’t look for those. It’s a pros/cons list of the different options. Simply put your eggs in the basket you feel most confident with.
5. But Remember, It’s Not Always a Catholic Wedding…!
At the end of the day, the right SDKs for you are the ones you stick with for the long haul. Even when you’ve implemented an SDK, it’s not necessarily a match made in heaven. So once you’ve chosen SDKs, tested them, and even released a version with them… it’s time to do some rethinking.
Go back to your team members and ask the hard questions again. Be open to feedback from your users. Do they complain more about something? Is it relevant? Did you and your product benefit from implementing these SDKs? If there’s a price, is it one you can afford and are willing to pay, now that you’ve seen exactly what you get?
In general, it’s always a good practice to revisit your SDK decisions. Some new kids might show up on the block, or some old reliable ones might branch out to new territories.
Finding the right SDK for your mobile app needn’t be a stressful, endless process. You just need to develop a method. Have fun flipping through the wide selection of third party tools that are available, and take your time to determine which one is going to benefit your app the most. Think of it as shopping in a huge supermarket. You must learn the ropes before you can bring the best selection of goodies home!