You may not have noticed, but history has unfolded before our very eyes in the past few months, with mobile device sales expected to outpace those of the traditional laptops for the first time (at least according to IDC research last September).
To shed some light on the expected pace of change, by 2017 it’s anticipated that 87% of the worldwide smart connected device market will be tablets and smartphones, with PCs (both desktop and laptop) making up only 13% of the market. IDC also estimates that tablet sales will surpass PCs on an annual basis by 2015.
Although we probably didn’t really need an analyst’s market report to tell us that tablets and smart phones are becoming ubiquitous. It was apparent to me that these ”things” were catching on when I saw that even my 3 year old nephew was iPad-literate during our recent Skype call.
What is somewhat surprising, however, is how immature mobile app monitoring tools are. For anyone trying to gain a better understanding of their mobile apps in the wild (read as developers, product managers, marketers, etc.), there are not a whole pile of options out there. What further compounds this issue is the fact that mobile app development brings with it a new set of problems not experienced in the traditional web app development space:
- Testing across a myriad of devices: “Fully” testing a mobile app is a daunting task. In fact I’d imagine mobile apps are rarely if ever fully tested across the myriad of devices, operating systems and screen sizes that they end up being accessed from. Thus it’s more important than ever to be able to monitor your apps in the wild to understand who is having issues and on what platforms.
- Apps failing silently: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? The same can be said for your mobile apps; if an app crashes in the wild, how do you know? Unless your users are nice enough to submit crash reports you may never know when an issue has occurred.
- Limited connectivity: An added complexity of developing, testing and monitoring mobile apps is that they are not hardwired to the network and consistently come in and out of network coverage. Your app needs to be able to handle both on- and off-line modes. Similarly, any monitoring tools need to be able to buffer events locally such that they are sent to your monitoring dashboard once the user’s device comes back online. Real user monitoring (i.e. logging the user app experience on the device during online and offline activity) can give a better insight into how the application behaves in both online and offline mode.
- Seeing beyond the download stats: Downloads for Show…Usage for Dough! Seeing beyond the app download stats is critically important to better understand user churn and can often be the difference between a fad and a long standing and valuable app. Tools in the mobile space for capturing usage statistics are limited, in particular when trying to capture these events on a per user basis.
- Front end to back end: With richer and richer clients in the form of ”fancy” mobile apps, it’s important to not only understand transactions across your web, application and DB servers, but it’s also now important to be able to view all the way from the mobile app to the backend database. Furthermore, mobile apps regularly consist of more than just the app sitting on the mobile device itself and generally interact with backend components sitting on servers (these days generally somewhere in the cloud). Few tools, if any, give a full view of the end-to-end transaction from the mobile device to the web server and all the way to the database.
But, it doesn’t have to be that hard! Logentries has just released our Mobile Insights capability for iOS, Android and HTML5 because we want to make easy to understand how your customers are using and experience your mobile applications. We intend fill the gap in your mobile app tooling. Testing, real time monitoring, and usage-related questions can now be answered via the humble log, collected in real time from your mobile apps in the wild.
Want to chat more? Join me tomorrow, Thursday February 20 at 11AM EST to learn more about the new mobile app monitoring capabilities and how to define and collect log events from your mobile devices. We will answer questions around:
- Crash analytics,
- App monitoring
- Collection of usage metrics
- And more, all on a per user basis!