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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!

5 Tips on Configuration for Mobile SDK Developers

May 23, 2017 3:51 PM

The deployment cycle of a mobile SDK is different than that of a mobile application – no matter how often and quick your release cycles are, you’re still dependent on the release cycles of the hosting app. This fact makes it harder to test and tweak your code based on production experience.

Configurable parameters to the rescue! Making your code configurable by adding parameter control from the server is not limited solely to the development stage of the SDK lifetime, it can be extremely beneficial in production as well. All part of the deal when you don’t control when new versions and code will be rolled out to users. So, while using configurations is a good practice for mobile apps and SDKS alike, for SDKs it can literally become a ‘make it or break it’ issue.

The basic need is for your code to behave differently based on server-side configuration. The configuration can include different behaviors for different customers, A\B testing, general parameters used throughout the code etc.

The implementation details can vary between different platforms, languages and use cases, but there are a few common issues to consider.

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How Top Mobile App Publishers Boost Ad Revenues While Maximizing UX

May 8, 2017 3:35 PM

Let’s get real for a second. App monetization is what it’s all about. Most of us get into the mobile app game not just to make the world a better place, but also to bring home the bacon. We put in hours upon hours trying to figure out where our users get lost, we pour hundred and thousands of dollars on trying to get the right users to notice us, and we consider most UX changes longer than we would a prospective spouse. That’s how important our app monetization is to us.

After all the hard work and long hours, we deserve a little something-something for our time and effort. So how frustratingly nerve-wrecking, not to say annoying, it is to learn that the very thing that should have turned a profit ends up hurting the bottom line? Especially when it’s not even the part of the app you wrote?

According to our January 2017 data analysis, most free Android apps use Advertisement SDKs in their app:

SafeDK | Most Popular Mobile SDK Categories Jan 2017

Ads are definitely the #1 source for app monetization in today’s market. It’s why we see their share consistent quarter after quarter.

And since SDKs are what we’re all about at SafeDK – ad-networks not excluded – we started monitoring what ad-networks are showing users. Allow me to share with you some real-life cautionary tales and answer the age-old question about user experience and app monetization: can I have my ads and eat it too?

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Mobile Apps Competitive Analysis Done Right

May 2, 2017 1:05 PM

Our 2 cents about how to run a successful app-marketing competitive analysis. Includes recommended free or almost free app marketing tools to use.

Reading time: 10 minutes (the actual work is a different story…)

In today’s world, doing competitive analysis is like doing opposition research: it’s just simply a given. It’s a method everybody must follow.

Yet knowing that you must run competitive analysis is one thing. Doing it right is another.

Since we started helping app developers & marketers learning which tools (SDKs) are used by their competitors, just by using our free App X-Ray tool, we received many requests for our advice on how to properly run a mobile app competitive analysis. So, we’ve decided to roll out our sleeves and help.

Mobile app professionals are a part of a very competitive industry. It is therefore no surprise that they always need to be vigilant and adaptive. As many developers have smaller budgets than established companies, they must get extra creative when it comes to their business and marketing efforts. That’s why some app developers I know (and very much respect) are not just checking items off their to-do list. They are constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to learn from their competitors’ activities and methods and utilize that information to grow their own business. Moreover, they are constantly looking for faults. Things that their competitors aren’t doing, or aren’t doing well.

I personally think that the “me too” strategy is legit and shouldn’t be instantly rejected, just because of an oversized ego. Running a smart competitive analysis will help you add more hacks and tactics to your list and gain a good understanding of the important tactics or strategies being used. It’ll also uncover which tactics your competitors aren’t using so you can leverage them for your use.

Many app developers focus almost their entire efforts on keywords research (on ASO tactics), and they tend to neglect other vital areas such as high level business data, partnerships, content strategy, PR, and social media strategies etc.  In turn they get to see and understand only a small part of the picture.

To cut a long story short, here is a more comprehensive list of competitive analysis areas, that aims to cover all aspects of mobile app business and marketing, or at least most of them. You are probably familiar with some of the items on the list and I hope to introduce you to some more which might generate news ideas.

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5 Myths of Using Mobile SDKs that Mobile Developers Must Know

April 19, 2017 2:11 PM

You know how some things were created to make our lives easier? The same has happened in the mobile development industry with SDKs. The growing use of SDKs has certainly made developers’ lives easier. They don’t need to spend time writing code and developing back-end stability for functionalities unrelated to the core of their apps.

According to our latest SDK trends report, a single app implements 17.6 SDKs on average, which means that mobile SDKs are popular today more than ever. But do we know all there is to know about the mobile SDK industry? Do we understand the potential and correctly estimate the risks?

While talking with many of our clients, prospects, and industry professionals, I noticed some major misconceptions regarding the use of SDKs.

Unfortunately having these misconceptions is a recipe for disaster – if you don’t know what some of your app’s code does, you could be subject to collateral damage. Therefore, I thought it was necessary to write this post and break some of these myths.

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10 Mobile App Development Trends to Look Out for in 2017

March 23, 2017 1:58 PM

Gladly, our mobile app industry is continuing to grow at a fast pace.

In fact, App Annie’s projection is that by 2020, mobile app store revenue will exceed $100 billion globally. The latest annual Mobility Report from Ericsson reveals that there will be 6.1 billion Smartphone users globally by 2020 and as for 2017, Gartner’s prediction is that by the end of the year “mobile apps will be downloaded more than 268 billion times, generating revenue of more than $77 billion and making apps one of the most popular computing tools for users across the globe.”

I remember, way back in 2008 (or maybe even a bit earlier than that…), I had to do some reading in order to understand the concept behind a device that is ‘all apps’. This was less than 10 years ago. It makes me wonder, what will we experience 10 years from now?

Mobile App Forecast by AppAnnie | SafeDK Blog
App Annie’s report projects a growth of $100B by 2020

Mobile App Store Revenue Worldwide by Gartner | SafeDK
Gartner predict 2017 will be see an even bigger growth in Mobile Apps revenue

Obviously, the mobile app development world is growing and changing rapidly, catering to the growth with some exciting trends. I’ve chosen to share a few of them with you today (yes, there are more. Talk to me if you think I should add others in as well).
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[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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NSLog or os_log: How to Log for Multiple iOS Versions?

February 27, 2017 3:53 PM

Our QA guy informed me one day that he doesn’t see our log messages when testing on an iOS 10 device.

“Good morning Siri darling, ” I clicked the round icon on the top right edge of my screen. “I don’t see my NSLog messages, please advise…”

“You should switch to os_log API”, she arrogantly replied. “And please stop asking me how much is 36 times purple, which bear is best or can Chuck Norris beat Thor in a fistfight”.

Thank you Siri, I’ll see what I can do.

Basically, a quick look around our code revealed that our NSLog calls are no longer displayed in the console application. Now, we write our code as a library. This means that our log messages within the app, the ones our QA looks for when testing, were part of a dylib compiled in release. And under those circumstances, NSLog doesn’t work starting with iOS 10.0. What does work? Well, according to Siri, a new API, the os_log API, should do the trick.

What is os_log API, you ask? Well, officially it’s called the “Unified Logging System.” Its function is described as “centralizing the storage of log data in memory and in a data store on disk.”

And so we were faced with quite the conundrum. The new os_log API is the way to go, Siri said so herself, but it’s only available starting with iOS 10.0. We had no choice – we had to use the new API when available, but still use NSLog for the old versions.

How were we to do that?

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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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11 Online Tools Mobile Developers Love Using

January 1, 2017 8:24 AM

Almost everyone I know from the mobile industry have a set of tools they work with and just can’t do without. Mobile app developers are no exception. They love using online or mobile tools that boost their productivity, be it free or paid, especially free…

Marketers, product managers and developers have learned to rely on advanced tools, add-ons, even just handy browser extensions that are nice to have in your everyday work.

So, we have asked a few mobile app developers to share which tools they love using the most and would happily recommend to colleagues. And to complete the picture, we have also posted this question in various professional app developers’ forums and groups. We told them they could list coding or general tools, project management tools, SaaS solutions or anything they find useful. We placed no restrictions!

On the contrary, we wanted app developers to feel free to list every tool that they love using, as long as it is related to their day-to-day work.

Many developers have happily shared their insights, disclosing which tools make their lives easier.

The result is presented below. It’s a free-style list, with no specific order or preferences. It lists a variety of tools from different areas. Some are tailored specifically for developers, while others serve the entire business community; some are offered by huge companies, while others were built by indie developers.

Hope you will find this interesting and maybe find some new tools for your own benefit!

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