Developers received mail from app inviting them to join the waiting list for their new app analytics service. Such a service is long overdue and several businesses are based solely on there not having been any offering by Apple so far. That is about to change.
Apple is working to close the gab between what developers what and what the platform provider should provide.
- Public Beta testing – we are very happy with TestFlight which offers this since fall 2014.
- Crash Reporting – Xcode 6.3’s Organizer window is able to retrieve symbolicated crash logs for BETA tests. iTunes Connect lets you download crash reports for published apps
- Analytics – this was announced at WWDC 2014 but has yet the materialize
People have come to understand multiple kinds of things when talking about App Analytics: Click Tracking (external links to the app store page of your app), Conversion Tracking (who downloads the app after viewing it, who buys IAPs?), Engagement Tracking (once downloaded how often is the app opened?) and In-App Analytics (what areas of your app are looked at how often)
Apple’s coming App Analytics promises to deliver all but the last one of these kinds of analytics but this might change in the iOS 9 SDK. Tracking user activities around an app probably needs iOS system hooks to do easily. For example Google Analytics tracks pages and events. A page is essentially anything that you can assign a path to (e.g. “/contacts/new”). An event is anything that a path does not make sense for (e.g. “downloaded asset”). With Google Analytics you have to integrate an SDK and send messages whenever there is something you wish to track.
I can see Apple hooking In-App Analytics directly into the view controller hierarchy, similar to state restoration. Say if you use state restoration and all your view controllers have restoration IDs, then Apple’s In-App Analytics could be forming the VC path automatically from those IDs.
Even without In-App Analytics, Apples coming offering is a big deal. They promise:
- See how often customers visit your app’s page on the App Store
- Find out how many of your users open your app over time
- Check your app and In-App Purchase sales
- Create custom campaign links and follow the success of your marketing campaigns
- Understand which websites refer the most users
Ahead of the launch, Apple invited all developers to join the Beta waiting list. This marks the first time that Apple has a waiting list for a new feature. Apparently they fear – rightfully so – that an enormous amount of people will want to get the data they promise.
Third-party analytics providers are quick to say that they are providing many more features than Apple will, to justify charging ongoing membership fees. Certainly developers who do pay for those will have to reevaluate the sensibility of paying for external services when Apple’s offering will be “it just works” and good enough for the majority of usage scenarios.
Like for example finding out if the purchase rate is bad in certain countries and thus you might want to look into improving your iTunes description, add this countries localization and make better screenshots.
Personally, I hope that Apple will “sherlock” all kinds of third party developer services as those feel to me like small parasites which are turning a dime because of Apple’s success.