When building a mobile app, you don’t want to reinvent the wheel. SDKs often accelerate development by providing access to third party tech that can help add new features, understand app performance, and monetize your efforts. Jason Lew, CTO and co-founder at Mighty Signal, a provider of sales intelligence on the top SDKs, looks at which SDKs are the most used in some key categories, so you can decide which to include in your app.
When choosing an SDK, three things you might want to know are: what does it do, how many apps use it and in particular which big names in tech trust it. With this in mind, Jason examines the top SDKs across six categories, looking at the overall presence in mobile apps and how much they’re used in the 200 most popular mobile apps.
First up is analytics. SDKs in this space let you know how your app is being used. The most popular overall is, not surprisingly, Google Analytics (used by the likes of Pandora and Yelp), which is in 21% of all apps, followed by Flurry (used by Dunkin’ Donuts). Third is Fabric’s Answers, which is the most used in the top 200 apps, and which you’ll find in Uber and Spotify apps.
The second category is monetization. These SDKs let you get ads into your apps, something that’s ever more important as the global mobile ad spend hit $100bn in 2016. No surprise, Google AdMob is the most popular again. What is more surprising is that the second most popular among the top 200 apps is Fabric’s MoPub. This SDK is actually a mediator for other ad networks, letting you decide which of all the other ad networks to use to display ads.
A hugely popular category is stability SDKs. These let you monitor app performance and help prevent crashes. Crashlytics is the giant in the space. 40.5% of all the top 200 apps use it, including Amazon and Twitter. It is distantly followed in the running by HockeyApp (favored by Pandora and SoundCloud) and PLCrashReporter (users include Netflix and Snapchat).
Many mobile apps need push notifications or in-app messages. These are provided by engagement SDKs like Adobe, the most popular among all apps.10% of the top 200 apps including Google Docs have Adobe. Its distant competitors in the space include Localytics, Apptentive and Urban Airship. Urban Airship was the pioneer in the space opening only a year after the app store in 2009 but has since taken a backseat to more recent arrivals.
Any ecommerce app needs a payment SDK. The surprise in this space is not the top runners. Most of these, card.io, followed by Paypal, Braintree and Stripe, are well known. No, the funny thing is that PayPal owns four of the top six. Only Alipay, Alibaba’s Chinese payment provider, breaks the monotony, with second place overall in the global rankings.
The final category is attribution. These SDKs help you work out if the ads you’re paying for to promote your app are resulting in more downloads and users. Google’s Conversion Tracking leads the space. You’ll find it in 2.8% of all apps. Adjust is the most popular in the top 200 apps. 13.5% of these apps feature the software used by Spotify and Pinterest.
So there you have it. Jason concludes by emphasizing that the best way to find the SDKs right for you is to look at the most popular, test them in your app and manage them with a dependency manager like Cocoapods for iOS that takes the hassle out of updates.