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[Report] How Extensively Do 3rd Party Mobile SDKs Access Private User Information?

October 25, 2017 5:23 PM

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.

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[REPORT] The Trendiest Mobile App Tools (SDKs) of Spring 2017

June 26, 2017 2:56 PM

For over a year now, we’ve been doing a constant survey of Google Play, analyzing the top apps available for free worldwide. Our motivation is to uncover the hottest mobile SDKs used by app publishers.

Mobile apps would not be the same without 3rd party tools and libraries. The thriving set of capabilities offered is astonishing. Most publishers will rush to market and won’t have the time, resources or will to develop these complete products on their own, in addition to their app. And why should they, when other players in the mobile world have gone pro in developing just these kind of features…?

Our analysis has seen the trends of app publishers using SDKs, from high-level numbers to category-specific drilldown and even by geographical origin. We’ve tackled mobile apps from various angles and are happy to share the latest trends in our newest report, looking at data from May 2017. With an arsenal of over 900 SDKs and more than 150,000 apps at our hands, we have the full Android SDK picture.

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?

The second quarter of 2017 is a special one. Ever since we began doing our analysis, we’ve seen a steady rise in the average number of SDKs used in apps. However, after seeing it slow down a bit the previous quarter, we have now seen it stay the same. And we must wonder what, if anything, does this mean – is this a hiccup on the trajectory going upwards or will 17.8 – the current number – become the new normal?

SafeDK May 2017: Avg. # of SDKs by Quarter

But there’s a much bigger story at play here. Our report shows the average number by different criteria, such as the store categories or install range. Here’s a sneak preview of the game subcategories for example:

SafeDK May 2017: Avg. # of SDKs in Gaming apps

The range is wide. Some game categories, for example, are higher this quarter than last and well above the global average. Arcade’s average number, for instance, was the same as the global one last quarter, but these apps have dropped an SDK by average this quarter.

But how do Games fare in general compared to other categories? Are they using more or less SDKs this quarter? Are they using more or less than News apps, Dating apps or Fitness apps? Download the report for free to get the full scope!

What are the Most Popular SDK Categories?

High-level trends seem to be fairly constant this quarter. Not just the average number of SDKs, but which SDK categories, i.e. capabilities and features, are most desired.

SafeDK May 2017: Top Payment SDKs

But as previously seen, even if high-level numbers are constant, lower-level drilldown is where the trends hide. Publishers’ desires for SDK capabilities remain the same, but their desire for the SDK themselves vary.

The Payment category is just one of such examples. Android Pay is used much less, OpenIAB is used much more and if you take a look at the geographical dive in the full report, you’ll see where a Bitcoin payment SDK is getting stronger…

Who are the Top SDK Players?

Globally, these are the strongest SDK players in the Android market this quarter:

SafeDK May 2017: Top SDK Players

Firebase is still getting stronger. How much stronger exactly? And what is going on which its predecessor Google Analytics in the meantime? Who’s conquering the Advertising world and who’s dominating the Engagement and Marketing Automation category (hint: an old-faithful climbed to first place!)? Download the full report to find out!

How Does the SDKs Map Look in Different Countries?

SafeDK May 2017: Avg. # of SDKs per Publisher Origin

As mentioned, the report also provides a drill down to some origins and categories, looking for local trends. With a year’s experience at hand, we can tell you – local trends often foreshadow global changes. It’s definitely worth taking a look!

It’s Going to be a Hot Summer!

With new players emerging in some categories and old ones getting stronger and stronger, we’re left to wonder what the future holds. Will apps be using more SDKs? If not, how will categories, origins or install bases react? Which SDKs will continue to get stronger and which ones will lose market share to other? Will there be a new player or capability that will turn the mobile table?

We have shared here just the tip of the SDK iceberg. So don’t wait, download it for free now!

[Infographics] The State of Mobile SDKs at the Start of 2017

March 8, 2017 4:07 PM

During the course of 2016, we’ve published two reports uncovering the state of mobile SDKs: one in April and on in October. We explored which SDK categories are most popular, exposed which SDKs are leading their category and even compared global and local trends. And judging by last year, we knew 2017 would be as interesting to explore, if not more.

We’ve just published a new report, looking at January 2017. The data comes from a thorough analysis of over 100,000 Android apps, featured in various Google Play stores around the world and available to download for free.  Together, these apps integrate hundreds of SDKs, from the top industry players to new players hoping to take the mobile world by storm.

And let us tell you right now that looking at the January data, and comparing it to the data from our previous reports (and the months in between), we’ve spotted some truly fascinating trends…

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.

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The Hottest Mobile App Tools (SDKs) of Q4 2016

January 3, 2017 12:41 PM

It wasn’t too long ago that app developers didn’t know what’s what in the mobile SDKs world. Who’s stronger than whom and who’s fighting to keep their head above water. All that has changed. Last May, we released our first ever Android SDKs Trend Report, disclosing who’s hot and who’s not as we listed the top players overall, in different categories, geos and whatnot.

Now we’ve published our second report, based on an analysis of over 100,000 free Android apps, comprised of apps featured in Google Play’s top charts. These apps implement hundreds of SDKs, including all top industry players.

The report looks at October 2016 data, analyzes the SDKs that are active internationally, and are integrated in the apps we’ve looked at.  The data is then compared with the data presented in the April 2016 report to reveal the leading trends.

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.

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Why Developers Must Analyze their Apps’ Store Reviews & How It’s Done

October 31, 2016 4:35 PM

During the course of my career, I’ve worked with app founders, app developers, product teams and marketers, and many times I have turned to store reviews to find answers. Eventually, I developed a method.

I’m assuming you’ve been in the industry for quite a while by now. I know it’s pretty hard to surprise you with tricks that you haven’t heard of or tried before. But let me try nonetheless.

Apparently, professionals in our industry follow a method, a way to qualitatively analyze their users’ inner thoughts. Using that they fine-tune their product efforts around what is specifically required in order to reach the results they are after.

First thing’s first: Let’s agree that you must find out what doesn’t work in your app, what your users don’t like, what they are struggling with and the issues many of them experience.  You can never guess what your users think of your app. You can never win this business unless you collect feedback methodically.


via GIPHY
Now, let’s talk about ‘the how’.

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Two Years of Multidexing: Is the 65K Limit Still a Big Deal?

October 20, 2016 8:42 AM

I still remember when I saw my first multidex app. It was almost two years ago and ho so rare. It was an almost religious experience – seeing something you didn’t think could exist with your very own eyes. And yet today I’m surprised when I stumble upon an app and it only has one dex file. Seriously, it’s like finding an oasis in the Sahara. A sight for sore eyes.

Which is why I was so surprised when our saleswoman told me about a meeting she had, where the developers in question specifically asked about it. They were determined to stay single dex no matter what.

You see, silly me, I thought the 65k limit was like one of those things you read about in history books or see in old movies. But it turns out I was living in a bubble. But hey, can you really blame me? Even Android’s own new compiler – Jack – refers to it in both code and documentation as “legacy”.

Which leads me to really think – is the 65K limit in Android still a big deal?

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The All-Star Winners of Mobile App Tools (SDKs)

June 13, 2016 3:53 PM

Highlights from our recent SDKs data trends report that was featured by VentureBeat.

The mobile app industry is huge. It’s young and growing at an amazing rate, feeding an entire ecosystem. 3rd party SDKs (Software Development Kits) play a key part in the mobile app industry. Hundreds of thousands of app publishers are building millions of apps, with the crucial support of 3rd party mobile SDKs that provide their apps with advanced analytics, engagement, monetization, social and many other capabilities.

App publishers can choose between thousands of SDKs to integrate, but only some will make an optimal choice in terms of quality, pricing and added value.

It appears that apps at different scales and categories vary in their choices of how many SDKs to integrate, which SDK categories are a must, and so on.

Until recently there wasn’t much data out there to rely on with regards to mobile SDK trends. App developers explored SDKs via recommendations from colleagues, professional groups, and industry events.

Well, that’s why we decided to release a comprehensive Android SDKs Trend Report, relying on data (from April 2016) attained from 35,000 Android apps, found on top charts worldwide (including all categories; Games and Family subcategories in the mix), and explore hundreds of SDKs implemented within these apps.

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Key Notes from Google IO’s Keynote

May 19, 2016 7:17 AM

Google IO is the ComicCon of devs. Being there is being square and damn proud of it! The three-day hoopla was kicked off this morning with the much anticipated two hour keynote speech at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View and I am glad to say I was there for every syllable of it.

I’ll be honest – when Sundar Pichai took the stage, I was giddy as a schoolgirl, ready to throw my shirt on the stage like your common average groupie.

And then they proceeded to blow my mind. If you thought Google was seeing and hearing everything before, the announcement of Google Home, as well as the new messaging app Allo (or the counterpart video chat app Duo and its knock-knock feature to let you see the caller’s video before answering), emphasized that Natural Language Processing is the future and what Google is all about in 2016. This was definitely not one for the paranoids who worry machines are about to rise up against us J

The second hour of the keynote focused on advances regarding mobile, which is really what caught my attention. Those devices that have become the center of our universe are what drew me to IO in the first place, and there were some interesting notes to take from this particular keynote.

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What’s New with the New ‘Google Play Developer Policy’?

April 27, 2016 2:25 PM

Google have recently done an Extreme Makeover Edition of their Play Store developer policy, completely redesigning the policy website. If you hadn’t taken a look, you should. Starting March 1st, policies and regulations have been made much clearer, and the Google Play experience has been almost completely revamped to become much more developer friendly.

While it may be the facelift that draws you in (the new site is definitely an upgrade to the long list of bullet points it was in the past), it’s the context that should catch your eye. When you look deep down beneath the surface, you’ll see the change to policies themselves is relatively minor. It’s the overall attitude that changed.

If I have to summarize the new policy website in just one word, it would definitely be – transparency.

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Your App Never Gets Featured? Here Are Some Possible Reasons

March 3, 2016 3:03 PM

A lot has been said about getting featured in Google Play or iTunes and, indeed, it’s a well-justified reputation. Being featured is a blast. True. You get a lot of high-quality users. However, the road to paradise is paved with all kinds of actions that need to be taken and some requirements that need to be met, that many developers are unaware of.

Do you match the standards of quality? Are you being a good developer?

Do you match the standards of quality? Are you being a good developer?

Once upon a time, being featured was almost a commodity. New apps were automatically featured, and just asking the app stores internal teams to feature your app was many times all you needed to do… but those days are over.

Today, there’s a hidden UX and performance standard you just have to meet, if you want your app to be featured in Google Play or in iTunes store. The top developers know it: if you meet with the app stores representatives they will provide some hints, but most app developers aren’t aware of the bits and bytes.  Battery consumption matters, crashes, and so forth, are side effects all app developers encounter. Where are you on the quality score graph? You better be somewhere high or ‘no soup for you!’. Don’t expect Google or Apple to let major performance issues slide. They know it all, and their stores teams are instructed to consider the users interests prior to everything else.

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