iPhone Analytics Updates and News

Flurry Analytics SDK 2.6

More news from Flurry that they may finally have resolved the iOS 4 compatibility issues. To recap the problem I and many others were seeing on version 2.5 of the SDK. Quitting and restarting the app too quickly could sometimes cause app crashes or leave the user looking at a blank screen. This was especially true in situations with high network latency.

In the latest release of the SDK (2.6) they have made further changes to play better with iOS 4 multitasking. Analytics data is now sent, by default, when the app starts, resumes and terminates. Sending the data when the app terminates is a possible source of app crashes so it seems like a good idea to keep that disabled - though on iOS 4 the app never really terminates so it should be less of an issue.

I have been doing some testing of this latest version on both iOS 4 and iOS 3.1.3 to see if it improves the situation. I have not been able to reproduce the issue with the blank screen so it seems like they have resolved that problem. There have also been some reports that startup time is impacted but I guess it could be dependent on network response times as I cannot say I have noticed anything yet.

Note that Flurry still do not promise that Apple will not decide to reject your app:

Despite our latest efforts, please understand that we are unable to guarantee whether Apple reviewers will approve your application in its App Store submission process.

MixPanel

In related news it looks like Flurry is getting some more competition from MixPanel who also now have an iPhone analytics offering. Based on just a quick look it seems to be very similar requiring the addition of a library and then one line of code to initialise and start collecting data. Like Flurry it also allows you to define and log events within the app. I did not get a chance to do any testing with MixPanel so I can’t say if it suffers from any of the same stability problems.

One big difference is that the service is not completely free. Pricing is based on the number of data points you collect each month. Up to 10,000 data points is free though you can get up to 100,000 free if you place a mixpanel partner badge on your website.

Do you need third party analytics?

It can certainly be valuable to know how often users are running your app, how long they run it for and what parts of the app they visit (or don’t visit). It was also extremely useful to have data on OS versions but that is now no longer allowed by Apple. On the downside there is the risk of creating stability problems and increased application startup times.

One way of getting some very simple analytics is through the use of iAds. This in no way compares with the offerings from Flurry or MixPanel but it carries less risk. If you are using iAds you can use the iAd Network dashboard in iTunes Connect to view the number of Ad requests each application makes daily grouped by country.

Using iAds gives only a very crude idea of app usage by geography - not great but better than nothing if you do not want to risk a third party library. Also since iAds is an iOS 4 feature you will not see iPad or older OS usage. Maybe Apple will improve the data they share with developers but in the meantime if you are not using iAds or want some real data on app usage you probably need to look at something like Flurry or MixPanel.

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