Transparency of mobile SDK activity has been on our mission statement since day one. Our flagship product was based on the sole interest of providing app publishers with just such transparency over the 3rd party tools they’ve integrated into their app.

We’ve also been on the forefront of SDK usage data. We’ve been releasing quarterly reports for over a year now, detailing the state of the Android market by following usage trends, pointing out which up and coming SDKs are conquering the mobile world by storm and seeing how competing or complementary tools control their respective market shares.

Now, with growing user awareness and concerns about private data leaking to 3rd parties, as well as big conglomerates being sued for 3rd party violations, we’ve combined both transparency objects. Our latest report has an added section detailing what kinds of private user information mobile SDKs are trying to access. It is especially important for mobile apps with European users who must be prepared for the upcoming GDPR which will start to be enforced in May 2018, holding apps solely responsible for reading private user information without explicit consent, regardless if the action is made by the app itself or a third party tool it has integrated.

Looking at over 190,000 top mobile apps against a database of over 1,000 libraries, this is our most extensive and thorough report to date.

Main Highlights

Please note that we are sharing here a partial selection of the findings that are presented in the full report. To access the full report (download is free) click here.

How Many SDKs are Integrated in a Mobile App?

In the second quarter of 2017, we saw for the first time since we started thoroughly analyzing the Android market, that the average number of SDKs integrated by mobile apps was not increasing. However, it was also not decreasing. This quarter, we see a small increase from 17.8 to 17.9. While the delta may be small, it is not insignificant. We can’t say if mobile apps will be adding more SDKs in the near future or not. We can, however, state that the number is fairly stable and that we’ve never seen it decreasing, so it’s unlikely mobile apps will be using less.

Of course, some apps integrate a different number of SDKs than others. There are many metrics that help define how many SDKs an app will integrate. Its’ install base, for example, plays a big role in that. The kind of app it is relevant too. Some kinds of apps have certain features and requirements that other don’t. Some may require more than one tool to achieve the same goal while for others just one of a kind is enough. The following is one such example from the report, detailing the average number of SDKs integrated by app of different play store categories:

Want to know which SDK categories mobile apps integrate the most in Q3 2017? Download the repot for free to get the full scope!

How Many Apps Have SDKs Accessing Private User Data?

With the GDPR coming on 2018, we also dived into private user information access statistics. One of the most surprising findings was that over 60% of apps have integrated at least one SDK that is trying to access some private user information. We’ve analyzed apps not just for the SDKs within them but also for the SDKs’ activity. With a method of statically analyzing the SDK code, we’ve gathered some important insights about which information SDKs try to access.

Over 50% of apps have at least one SDK trying to read user location data. 40% of apps have at least one SDK reading the list of apps installed on a user device – information which Android has left up for grabs by anyone, without user explicit consent. It does require you to inform the user in your privacy policy. But do you know if you have an SDK doing that? Are you aware of this Google regulation?

The report also goes different, exploring how many SDKs in general try to access information and how many ad-networks in particular. But what some might find most interesting is the drilldown we did into the Family category in the play store. Apps targeting underage users must be COPPA-compliant and must be aware of the information gathered by their 3rd party integrated tools.

Have at least one user residing in the EU? You must be GDPR-Compliant! Click here to learn more.

Who Are the Top Mobile SDKs of Q3 2017?

With Firebase securing its’ place on top, there is still wide competition in the top 5 most popular SDKs. With Unity Ads growing stronger, we see Flurry and Crashlytics constantly battling for the golden ticket to the top 5. Crashlytics, after coming back on top and regaining its dominance over the Crash Reporting category, is the more widely used this quarter. But we’ve been around the SDK block for a while, and let us tell you – the top 5 is far from being a done deal for the long haul and there could still be interesting changes next quarter. Stay tuned!

One SDK category we’re definitely keeping our eyes on is the Payment category. Not only because its numbers are growing and more and more apps add Payment features with each passing month, but because changes at the top are quite interesting too.

PayPal and Android Pay were dominating this category less than a year ago. Now OpenIAB – a one SDK to rule them all payment tools –  has climbed to the top. And after seeing it beginning to gain major traction last quarter, we now see Skubit in the impressive second place, taking a large portion of the market. Skubit is actually a bitcoin payment SDK, which makes it all the more intriguing…

Publishers in Different Geos Use Different SDKs

Okay, so they’re all still using the Google and Facebook offerings for the most part. But in some cases we see local players pushing out global giants, and in some we even see future trends starting locally. Just look at the above example – while Skubit was only mildly strong last quarter and didn’t make it to the top 5, some publishers in some geos were already riding the wave and integrating it more than others.

The following is a drilldown of the average number of SDKs used by publishers in different geos. The report itself also includes a drilldown to the top used SDKs in selected categories and geos.

Winter is Coming: Are You Prepared?

For a vast majority of publishers and apps, the following couple of quarters will not be just about the new exciting SDKs and features they should or shouldn’t implement. For them, it’s also going to be about uncovering what SDKs are doing. Their current SDKs, and their prospect SDKs.

Following lawsuits and government regulations, now’s the time to start asking the right questions and being prepared. No one wants to waste precious time and resources fighting a battle in both legal and public opinion courts. GDPR regulations simply demand you take responsibility for your own houseguests and their activity. So be prepared and take the necessary steps to protect both yourself and your users.

We have shared here just the tip of the SDK world iceberg. Don’t wait, download our report and insights for free!