Under The Bridge Under The Bridge

Tag: Firebase
Kowalski, Analytics!

So it’s been a little while since we last looked at analytics for your iOS app, and as it happens we have a new one just out that could use some sober second thought on its analysis strategy going forward; let’s take a look at that today, shall we?

Kowalski

 

First off, since you don’t have to do any work to get them it’s always a good idea to keep abreast of the latest developments in App Store Connect App Analytics – especially since there’s a bunch there that you can’t get with any other service! But, since you can’t report any custom events so they’re not very interesting development-wise, we’ll just remind you of the documentation and move right along, to consider in detail the current crop of services that are FREE! and UNLIMITED! that being the tier of service that us scrappy Indies are most interested in naturally!

So, last time we were checking out this analytics thing, the buzz was all about Fabric Answers

The best of Answers realtime analytics is now part of Firebase. New apps should use Google Analytics for Firebase…

Well then. How about that old standby for website centric organizations, Google Analytics? Oh, look they’re shutting that down too this Hallowe’en…

To use the latest generation of app reporting in Google Analytics, you’ll need to install the Firebase SDK. If you do not have a Firebase project, go to firebase.google.com to get started. Once you have completed the setup, return to Google Analytics…

Huh. OK, if you’re tied into the Google ecosystem, or anything that was good it acquired, it seems your choice is very clear. Singular, in fact!

Personally, we’d prefer not to be tied into the Google ecosystem, particularly if we’re not depending on it for anything besides analytics, so we’ll leave the Firebase option off the table as long as possible. Besides, it isn’t completely free, although the free usage limits are generous.

For completely free to the developer, Flurry appears to still be the leader in app support suites, with push and real time analytics and advertising and remote config and all sorts of other goodies these days; come a long way since Peter Farago stopped by to say thanks for our first note on it over ten years ago and now he’s “GM & VP Flurry” at Verizon with a job description of “Making Flurry awesome(r)” so that would seem to indicate that it’s weathered its various acquisitions nicely and continues to be a solid choice going forward.

While we were developing this last project, we tried out Visual Studio App Center and were reasonably pleased with it in general — we didn’t get around to creating any specific events, but even the default session monitoring of App Center Analytics is providing useful information — it’s still maturing, but if you’re tied in to Microsoft platforms or the slowly migrating HockeyApp, this is the support suite for you! Without that, it doesn’t have a compelling use case … aside from being Not-Google. Should you find that compelling.

Another option, if you have a Facebook app as pretty much everyone does these days, is Facebook Analytics where if you’ve linked in the Facebook SDK you can see session info in Facebook’s Event Manager things logged with App Events for iOS. Not actually real time though, and you don’t get the push notifications and crash reporting and so forth of the above suites, so picking one of them is probably what most of us will be interested in. 

Now, there are a veritable plethora of other analytics services out there that don’t meet the FREE! and UNLIMITED! test, any number of which may be suited enough to your particular needs to be worth their investment: here’s a few of the better recentish roundups we looked at putting together post, check them out if you have a budget:

The Apps Have Spoken: Top 13 iOS App Analytics Platforms [2019]

Top 11 Mobile App Analytics Platforms in 2019 (Pricing Included)

Top 20 Mobile App Analytics Tools: Which is the best one for you?

Top App Analytics Tools (2019)

And if you don’t want a service at all but want to host your own analytics, an excellent start on that is this:

Countly Community Edition
Your very own, self hosted and open source desktop, web, mobile analytics server and SDKs

At least it looks like it. We wouldn’t know. We’re not into self-hosting or rolling our own of anything we can possibly get away with not. But if you are, check it out and let us know how that goes for you!

And finally, whichever one of these alternatives you pick first, it’s a solid bet that you’ll be called on to change it at some point, because that’s just the way it always works, isn’t it? Here is a nicely elegant post about creating

A modular analytics layer in Swift

We are going to build a layer that avoids using a static API, puts any backend APIs behind a protocol, uses the power of Swift enums and pairs each event with the pieces of data it needs to contain.

More specifically it should:

  • Be easy to report new and existing events.
  • Allow the data be sent to whichever analytics backend we wish to use, even multiple.
  • Be testable and mockable, allowing it to be an injected dependency.
  • Allow events to be reported from anywhere in the app, but encourage best practices.
  • Have compile-time safety of events and their properties…

Sounds like just about the way we like to put service wrappers around our dependencies yep — so whatever analytics you choose, check that out!

UPDATES:

8 Critical KPIs for Your App and How to Track Them

Assertions in Production for tracking internal errors

SmartlookConsentSDK for getting user consent

Fire Up The Base

In case you’ve been floundering about what to do service side since Parse dropped the BaaS, here’s something you’ll want to take a look at — Google has seriously levelled up Firebase with unification and new services:

FireBaseServices.png

Firebase is expanding to become a unified app platform for Android, iOS and mobile web development. We’re adding new tools to help you develop faster, improve app quality, acquire and engage users, and monetize apps. On top of this, we’re launching a brand new analytics product that ties everything together, all while staying true to the guiding principles we’ve had from the beginning:

  • Developer experience matters. Ease-of-use, good documentation, and intuitive APIs make developers happy.
  • Work across platforms. We’ll support you whether you’re building for iOS, Web, or Android.
  • Integrate where possible. Firebase has one SDK, one console, and one place to go for documentation and support…

That’s a lot of features there, with free to minimal pricing until you’re scaled up looks like.

Particularly interesting is that they’ve put at the centre there this new analytics service,

At the heart of Firebase is Firebase Analytics, a free and unlimited analytics solution. Analytics integrates across Firebase features and provides you with unlimited reporting for up to 500 distinct events that you can define using the Firebase SDK. Firebase Analytics reports help you understand clearly how your users behave, which enables you to make informed decisions regarding app marketing and performance optimizations…

Custom audiences can be defined in the Firebase console based on device data, custom events, or user properties. These audiences can be used with other Firebase features when targeting new features or notifications.…

As it happens, we’d just been planning to get around to picking an analytics platform for the next project, as it’s been a hella long time since we last surveyed that space, or even updated with notes on the general consensus:

If marketers are going to be using analytics tools, Mixpanel or Localytics. If developers want data to play with, Flurry.

Since then, Flurry was absorbed into Yahoo Mobile Developer Suite, Localytics and Mixpanel appear to be doing fine although now we have actually accurate marketing analytics from Apple,

App Analytics is Apple’s very own analytics platform. It lives right inside of iTunes Connect. Announced at the WWDC in summer 2014, it launched finally in spring 2015 and just recently added support for tvOS apps. One might say just “another” analytics platform like free solutions from Flurry/Yahoo Mobile, Google or Facebook, but App Analytics finally provides reliable data nobody else can (Spoiler: App Store impressions, referring websites, attribution)

You should read all the rest if you aren’t familiar with it, but since it requires no technical implementation there’s no support decision to be made there so we can move on. Let’s check a couple curated collections:

Apptamin’s App Analytics Tools Round-up

iOS Dev Tools’ Analytics section

awesome-ios’ Analytics section

Well, clearly if you have trouble reaching a decision, ARAnalytics is for you:

ARAnalytics is an analytics abstraction library offering a sane API for tracking events and user data. It currently supports on iOS: Mixpanel, Localytics, Flurry, GoogleAnalytics, KISSmetrics, Crittercism, Crashlytics, Fabric, Bugsnag, Countly, Helpshift, Tapstream, NewRelic, Amplitude, HockeyApp, HockeyAppLib, ParseAnalytics, HeapAnalytics, Chartbeat, UMengAnalytics, Librato, Segmentio, Swrve, YandexMobileMetrica, Adjust, AppsFlyer, Branch, Snowplow, Sentry, Intercom, Keen, Adobe and MobileAppTracker/Tune…

And if you’d prefer to just follow the herd, looks like they’re heading for Twitter these days:

Answers Named #1 in Mobile Analytics for iOS

Back in May, Answers was ranked as #2 on iOS and #3 on Android in the mobile analytics space by SourceDNA, the world’s largest database of mobile app intelligence. Since then, we’ve been building out new features like Answers Events, which helps you track specific actions and events in real time, to better understand how users are behaving within your app.

Today, we’re thrilled to tell you that Answers has now been named the #1 most implemented mobile analytics SDK on iOS — just five months after it was named #2!

So no lack of innovation in that space, definitely. If you decide to jump on the new Firebase bandwagon, be sure to let us know how it goes for you!

UPDATES:

Getting Started with Mobile Analytics

28 Metrics That Matter for Your App

Firebase 101, a simple todo list app

Creating a Backend for Your iOS App Using Firebase

Google’s Firebase developer platform gets better analytics, crash reporting and more

Introducing Firebase with Swift 3: Login and Sign Up; Using Firebase to Integrate Facebook Login in iOS Apps

Keep an eye on the competitive developments over at Microsoft: The Next Generation of HockeyApp

Firebase Tutorial: iOS A/B Testing

Fabric lands top spots for app analytics, stability, and monetization

Well, that makes the decision process simpler: Fabric, R.I.P.

Marco Arment:

iOS devs: Any decent self-hostable crash reporters, analytics packages?

I think it’s wise to consider bringing this in-house these days.

Quick-Chat: “Real time chat app written in Swift 3 using Firebase”

Back-End as a Service for Mobile Apps

Implementing Push Notifications on iOS with Firebase

Using Firebase Cloud Messaging for Remote Notifications in iOS

Advanced Firebase For The Win

Firebase Costs Increased by 7,000%!

Get Started With Firebase for iOS Apps

Scratching the Firebase services with your iOS app

Why Firebase sucks