Learn How People Use Your App – An App Analytics Tools Round-Up

Knowing how many people download your app, how much money you’re making, or what users think of your app is important. But it’s definitely not the only thing you should be tracking. That’s where app analytics tools are vital.

It’s not all about the number of downloads. You also need to learn how, when, where and by what kind of audience your app is used.

Of course you can get a sense of that when you have people trying your app in front of you. But if you really want to know how well your app is doing, you need more data.

Believe it or not, your users are probably not using your app exactly like you think they are.

What to Track and Why

An interesting post from Dave McLure explains the key metrics startups should use. I tend to believe that a lot of things that are true for startups are true for mobile apps too.

For example, I think that app developers should copy more what entrepreneurs do for marketing before their launch. But I digress…here are the “Pirate” metrics Dave talks about:

Key Startup Metrics to Monitor

You can measure some of the acquisition/revenue metrics using app downloads and revenue tracking tools, but if you use only that you will still be missing some important data.

By monitoring the right things, you’ll be able to learn a lot about your users and improve your app or your game.

A couple of other things before jumping to our thoughts on the different tools:

  • Start monitoring things before you publish your app on the mobiles stores: even if you got only a few beta testers (try having as many as possible!), the data can still be used as an indicator
  • Different tools for different apps: what might be a perfect tool for a kind of app might bring much less value for another
  • Track what makes sense for your app and for your audience: not every app has the same objectives. And depending on which stage you are at, the KPIs that make more sense might change.
  • Cohort analysis is really important
  • Know where your app is going: do your best to pick a tool that you can still use (or afford) when you get more users, add platforms or countries

In-App Usage Analytics

Luckily, there are several tools for in-app analytics and some are free or have free versions. Some provide other features than in-app usage analytics (cross-promotion, ads etc.). This can be important to make your choice but it’s not the topic of this post so that part is not detailed.

All the solutions mentioned will require you to use a mobile analytics SDK as well as some level of customization.

A couple folks working at these mobile analytics companies have interesting things to say about their products and in-app usage analytics on Quora, you should check it out.

Disclaimer: the views expressed here are only ours, and some of the tools we couldn’t test extensively. We did our best not to make any mistakes when talking about these tools. But if we did, please let us know and we’ll happily correct them.

Flurry Analytics (Part of the Yahoo Mobile Developer Suite)

Price: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Java ME

Flurry is a pretty complete tool for your mobile analytics. For each app, you can either use the “classic” dashboard or create up to 10 custom dashboards.

That compensates for the fact that to get some mobile app analytics, you sometimes need several clicks, which can get frustrating.

Flurry Analytics Dashboard

Here is the kind of info you can find or use in the dashboards:

  • Usage: Active users, sessions, session lengths, frequency, retention, etc.
  • Audience: Interest of users(your other apps + category), personas (type of your users – defined by Flurry), demographic
  • Technical: Devices, carriers, firmware versions, errors
  • Events: Define events, see user paths, create funnels

This is an example of how Flurry helps you visualize the path that the user takes when using an app.  Seeing a visual representation like this can be a huge help in understanding where you can improve your app.

User Path diagram in mobile analytics platform

Understand the User Path

Flurry also provides easy to understand reports on conversion metrics.

Funnel analysis results

Optimize conversion by analyzing funnels

Depending on the data/charts you’re looking at, you can filter via segments (age, first session, usage, country, etc), app versions and dates.

Probably because Flurry offers lots of other services (like ads), this tool is free yet provides a lot of analytics.

If you’re using Flurry, below is a video explaining how to create events and why:

We like: Thorough yet free, multiple dashboards, user paths and funnels.

Not so much: Lots of click required to get info, errors/crashes hard to identify and no cohort analysis.

Universal Analytics (Google)

Price: Free
Platform: iOS, Android

It might seem suprising, but Google didn’t launch a mobile app analytics tool before the end of June 2012. Mobile is huge, and they obviously want a key role in analytics. They have the advantage over their competitors that many people have been used to Google Analytics.

The Google Analytics for mobile apps SDK was first only available in beta, and is now part of Universal Analytics (out of beta since April 2014).

Universal Analytics is a pretty big deal if your product is cross-devices and requires sign in, because it is based on a User ID which allows for example to count 3 visits of one person across different devices as only 1 unique visitor:

Cross device measurement with universal analytics

Image Source: econsultancy.com

In the same way, if you track conversion and revenue in Universal Analytics, it will be cross device and will even let you know the path (which action was done on which device).

What if you just have a mobile app? Just like you would expect, Google Mobile App Analytics provides metrics to analyze your app performance.

Your app overview gives you reports organized in four categories:

  • Acquisitions: find out about who your new users are. For Android apps on the Google Play Store, you can also track where your users are coming from and for example know how many sessions they’ve used or in-app revenue they’ve generated with Google Play Sources.

    Google Play Referral Flow

    Know which source visitors come from, and how many installs and actual users you’re getting. More here.

  • Mobile App Audience / Users: just like for the web, you can know about new vs. returning users, their country/language, the app version, etc.
  • Mobile App Behavior / Engagement: you can use event tracking like you do on your website, get reports on speed, crashes and exceptions.
  • Mobile App Conversion: you can set up goal, track the conversion of your objectives and see the goal flow (Google’s equivalent to the funnel/user path).

Those mobile analytics (and Universal Analytics as a whole) are pretty complete, and Google is probably going to roll out new features as well.

We like: Lots of the needed features, easier to learn if you already used GA, integration with Google Play for conversion tracking (and more to come).

Not so much: No cohort analysis and no integration with iTunes for conversion (I don’t see that happening).

Apple App Analytics

Price: Free
Platforms: iOS

Apple introduced its App Analytics tool in 2015 to provide some answers on what’s happening on your app details listing and in your app.

Analytics has 3 key sets of data:

  • App Store Data
  • Sales Data
  • Usage Data

It’s a nice and long awaited feature to be able to know how many App Store views your app is getting. The usage data is however still pretty limited compared to the other tools listed here and is most likely not going to be sufficient by itself:

  • Installations
  • Sessions
  • Active devices
  • Active devices in the last 30 days
  • In-App purchases

Apple app analytics

An interesting piece of information you’ll find as well is user retention, sorted by week. Super helpful for showing you when users are dropping off, especially after an app update.

retention analytics apple

You don’t have anything to do to have, it’s built in iTunes Connect. For usage data like sessions for example, the data measured will only be the data from users that explicitly accepted to share their app usage stats in iOS.

Check out this WWDC15 presentation on how to get the most out of mobile app analytics. We hope that Apple will keep on improving this tool.

We like:
 The tool is well done, and diving into data and applying filters is quite easy. The “attribution analytics” are great to have, however this is not usage data.

Not so much: The in-app analytics data is still limited, especially for anything related to the actual user behaviors.

Mixpanel

Price: Freemium (see prices here)
Platforms: iOS, Android

Mixpanel offers event-based analytics tools: account creation, sharing, upgrade, purchase, etc. You have to define events and event properties for your app.

You can do things like:

  • Track these events separately or create series of events (funnels).
  • Use cohort analysis to see exactly how often users come back and engage with your application.
  • Build complex queries based on events and demographics
  • Tie mobile to web and vice versa
  • If you have users’ info
    • Tie data to a person
    • “Explore” user segments and engage users via email/SMS/push notifications

Mixpanel-Mobile Analytics

Below is a video made by the MixPanel team to explain the tool:

Mixpanel lets you analyze your app retention by seeing how often your customers return and engage with your application. To get the full picture, it uses cohort analysis which groups your users by day, week or month based on a specific event.

Here’s more info:

In the free version, you’re limited to 25,000 data points / month. A data point is counted every time you track an event with Mixpanel. So, for a music app and if you track only songs played, that could be 2,500 users playing 10 songs each.

Mixpanel also has an “Activity Feed”, that lets you see a timeline of every action a user (when identified by a profile) takes in your app from day 1. They also integrated revenue tracking.

We like: Event-based and easy to create funnels, nice UI and allows in-depth analysis. Can tie web to mobile and cohort analysis.

Not so much: Limited in data points in free version, but you can get more (currently 175,000) by adding their badge to your website footer.

Facebook Analytics for Apps

Price: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android, Canvas

Facebook has their own mobile analytics SDK that will help you track the following:

  • Events
  • Funnels
  • Cohorts
  • Segments
  • Integrations

They make it easy to see what you are getting into, by providing a demo account that will give you access to the dashboard, with demo data. As we navigated through the dashboard, it is easy to use and very intuitive.

There was definitely an emphasis on simplicity, when they designed this analytics platform. That being said, there might not be enough information available here for people who need more complex analytics.

However, Analytics for Apps has all of the basic metrics that most app publishers need and can be a good start for people who don’t want to be overwhelmed.

Facebook app analytics dashboard

To get started, you have to register your app with Facebook. Then your metrics can be logged through the Facebook SDK.

Add Facebook app to track with SDK

What we like: Squeaky clean interface, good step-by-step tutorials (with access to them in the right places), access to Facebook demographic data and a demo login.

Not so much: Tied heavily to the Facebook platform.

Amplitude

Price: Freemium (see prices here)
Stores: iOS, Android, Unity

Like Google Analytics and Mixpanel, Amplitude also provides analytics for both mobile and web. This integration helps you get a more complete picture of how people find and use your app, across both channels.

But since we are talking about mobile app analytics, let’s dig into their mobile offering. Like any other mobile analytics platform, the sign up process is easy and you can download and install the SDK in minutes.

Amplitude dashboard

You can track:

  • Events
  • User Activity
  • Funnels
  • Retention
  • Revenue
  • Behaviors

They emphasize behavioral cohorts (as they should) and they allow you to define actions that people take within your app, so you can discover key characteristics of people who do desired actions within your app.

One of the examples that they reference is Facebook’s study that showed that people who add at least seven friends in the first 10 days, were much more likely to be engaged users. After they discovered that, Facebook pushed hard to help people add at least seven friends when they sign up.

This is the kind of valuable information that you can uncover with behavioral cohorts. 

What we like: The SQL option to get custom data. Although it is only available at the enterprise level, it does give power users the option of accessing data that is not otherwise available in the dashboard. If you have tried to get a report out of a system and you knew that the data was there, but the developers simply didn’t make it available, then you understand how powerful this feature is.

Not so much: Huge leap from free to $995 a month, UI could be better and a few tutorial videos in the platform would help with onboarding.

Answers on Fabric (Twitter)

Price: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

The goal of Fabric is to get all of the best app SDKs under one roof.  This means: crash reporting, analytics, payments, growth, infrastructure and more.

Their analytics offering is called Answers and it provides a real-time mobile analytics. Their events tracking provides a core list of the most popular events that most app publishers track.

app analytics from Fabric - events

Image: Fabric Mobile Analytics

To see what makes Answers unique, watch this video:

What we like:  Great UI and it is convenient that there are several integrated app SDKs available on Fabric.

Not so much: Like Facebook app analytics, Twitter’s best interest will always take priority.

Countly

Price: Free if self hosted (open source)
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry

Countly might not be one of the leading analytic tools but it has a unique positioning, a great UI and a cool design. It is a real-time, open source mobile analytics application that you can host on your own server. Since their launch the team has added an Entreprise Edition and a Cloud Edition.

The dashboard is really easy to use, with pretty much every info at a glance or at a click: sessions, new users, time spent, events served, etc.

Country Dashboard - Mobile App Metrics

Countly Dashboard

For each app, you can get info on:

  • Users and Users Loyalty
  • Sessions and Session Frequency
  • Countries
  • Devices and App Versions
  • Carriers and Platforms
Country retention based on cohorts

Countly cohort-based retention

You can also track events (and use segmentation) and sets of events (i.e funnels) that you define from the app. If you want to segment (country, app version, platform), that means you have to think about it before hand (in your app code).

We like: Awesome UI/design and the fact that they offer an open source analytics option.

Not so much: Segment from within the app (but that’s also for performance reasons).

Appsee

Price: Free trial
Platforms: iOS, Android

AppSee has quite a unique approach. It is a visual in-app analytics platform that helps measuring, understanding (and therefore improve) user experience. Not only you get the “usual” analytics and stats, but you get some “qualitative” information on users’ behaviors as well.

Watch recordings of real users sessions to understand what exactly happens: for example, why users abandon the registration screen. You can control the ratio of recorded users or target specific users.

You also have access to Heatmaps to understand on which parts of your app (screens) users focus the most.

AppSee Realtime In-app

AppSee realtime in-app analytics dashboard

AppSee automatically creates events based on the user interaction with your app, and you can create conversion funnels based on these events or specific screens.

appsee mobile analytics funnels

AppSee conversion funnel example

You see users stopping at one step of the funnel? Just watch the corresponding user recordings to find out why so you can fix it.

Smart.

Appsee provides a free 14-day trial that includes all the features. The paid plans are tailored to the customers’ needs and based on the supported platforms, number of tracked sessions and apps.

We like: Unique visual and qualitative approach.

Not so much: Hard to find some things.

Localytics

Price: Freemium (see prices here)
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, HTML5

Localytics ties marketing/acquisition tools to analytics.

On the first screen, once you’ve added your apps, Localytics presents you an overview of each one with the number of sessions or users. In the premium/entreprise versions you can compare your apps with various criterias (new vs. returning, sessions, users, etc.) and also build your own queries to get a .csv file.

They’ve extended what’s available in the free version (less than 10k monthly active users or 500k data points) and you can get for each app:

  • App usage and reports (by location, device, carrier, app version, unique users)
  • Users and sessions (time periods and new vs. returning)
  • Heatmaps
  • Screenflow
  • Funnels
  • Cohort-based retention
  • Segments
  • Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)
Localytics funnels

The idea behind Localytics is to take action based on the insight you get, so they also have a marketing add-on lets you target customers that do specific actions for ads, push messaging or in-app messaging.

We like: Easy to use, unlimited apps in free version and cohort-based retention.

Not so much: Limited data points or monthly active users in free version (but hey, they have to live right?).

Apsalar – ApScience

Price: Free
Platform: iOS, Android

Apsalar, quite like Localytics, wants to give you an All-In-One solution: track and measure, segment and analyze, so you can advertise.

The customizable dashboard lets you choose the data you want to see at first glance.

Apsalar Dashboard - Mobile Analytics

You can create:

  • Events (unlimited event tracking in the free plan)
  • Funnels, including across multiple apps.
  • Real-time cohorts, to measure engagement of users across time
  • Revenue tracking

Apsalar Funnel Analytics Tools

You can also segment your users based on these events, funnels and cohorts.

In addition, Apsalar has a free tool to measure performance and ROI/LTV of acquisition campaigns. Another tool, still in private beta, allows developers to target specific users when advertising.

We like:
 Analytics across multiple apps and real-time cohorts.

Not so much: They don’t answer our emails.

Other tools

Heatma.ps (iOS)

Like with AppSee, you can know which buttons users press, what is the first thing they touch,  see what kind of gestures they use, if they are using your app in landscape or portrait mode and even do some A/B testing (they have a different tool for that).

Check out their video below to learn more:

So here are most of your options in order to know how, when, where and by what kind of audience your app is used. Based on the data you’ll get and the tracking of your downloads and revenues, you can adjust your app marketing and improve your app/game.

 

Did we forget any major free or affordable tools for mobile app analytics? Have you tried any of these and would like to share your experience? What do you track? Let us know in the comments!

11 December,2015

 

Sylvain Gauchet

Hi there, I'm Sylvain and I've been working for several years on marketing mobile apps. With Apptamin we believe that we can help developers better promote their apps by creating cool app videos and sharing what we've learned...while learning more!

I'm French and English is not my primary language, so you're welcome to correct me if I make a mistake.

Follow Apptamin on Twitter
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21 comments
evanrbarry
evanrbarry 5pts

You can now include Content Analytics by Branch on this list. With Content Analytics you can see which pieces of app content are driving engagement and installs.

apptamin
apptamin moderator 5pts

@evanrbarry Thanks for the suggestion, we will probably do a separate post on content analytics. 

Ika
Ika 5pts

Does any of the above support analytics that are embedded inside an SDK?


I'm developing an SDK and looking for a good analytics tools that can be integrated and will not cause collision with our wrapping application.

apptamin
apptamin moderator 5pts

@Ika You would have to check with each company individually. Sounds like a very case-specific implementation. 

Guest
Guest 5pts

Thanks for keeping this up to date, its a very useful set of data. 

apptamin
apptamin moderator 5pts

@Guest Happy it helped. 

Leximize
Leximize 5pts

RE: Flurry, no support for WinPhone 8.1 or WinMobile 10

Flurrylitics
Flurrylitics 5pts

You can now check out your Flurry Analytics for free on your iPhone.

We released a free app - Flurrylitics (http://www.flurrylitics.com) where you can access all of your analytics data along with great visualizations with charts and maps, trend lines and more.

It supports multiple companies, events and event parameters as well as other metrics.

Please give us your feedback at info@flurrylitics.com

zacaghion
zacaghion 5pts

Thanks for the overview Sylvain. I'd like to add to this list a few more mobile app analytics tools which are the best for addressing some very specific needs:


-Splitforce (https://splitforce.com) mobile A/B testing allows you to do mobile A/B, split, multivariate testing, and is the only solution on the market which supports Auto-Optimization through bandit algorithms. What users love about Splitforce is that they can remotely configure A/B tests or rollout the best performing variant without having to resubmit their app to the app stores, and can visualize their test data using time-series graphs and confidence intervals.


-Crashlytics (https://try.crashlytics.com/) is the core of Twitter's quickly emerging mobile development platform, Fabric (https://fabric.io/login). Crash reporting occupies a low seat on the hierarchy of needs for apps - bugs and crashes are the lowest hanging fruit for improving engagement and user experience. It's also free forever.


-Parse (https://www.parse.com/) is the Facebook-owned darling of the mobile app dev community, and recently released an analytics product alongside mobile-first backend services. The key advantage is that it allows for managing your app's backend, push notifications and analytics all from one place - and as it supports most desktop frameworks you can get a unified view of your data across platforms and devices. The only costs are related to backend services and push; the analytics piece is completely free. 

Alfina
Alfina 5pts

Thank you for the nice and in-depth review, Sylvain. It will be awesome if you are able to include Telerik Analytics (http://www.telerik.com/analytics) in your next comparison. The service supports all mobile, web and desktop development platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, WinRT, mobile websites, .NET and more. It also goes an extra mile to make the developer's life easier by capturing run-time exceptions. Please, let me know if you have questions/feedback.


Disclaimer: I work for Telerik.

Opentracker
Opentracker 5pts

hi, please consider Opentracker Mobile App Analytics:

New in the game, but 10 years of experience:

Analyze app user behavior
See who your app users are, and exactly how they use your app.

Search through all sessions
Realtime search & find all sessions for any variable

Precise  Geo-locate your app users
Know exactly where your users come from. Geo-location provides insight.

Real-time Reporting
Real-time minute-to-minute tracking, reporting and analysis.

Anything and Everything
Measure in-app events. Add events and properties to your app analytics.

User labeling or tagging
Identify users and tag them. Follow or look them up them through time.

Full featured API
Request info, get data back, and process it.

No impact on UX
Advanced connection optimization makes sure users will not notice.

Total user engagement
Connect your users across multiple platforms, browsers, locations, etc.

Open Source SDK
The Opentracker Android and iOS SDK's are available on Github

Durbinware
Durbinware 5pts

Hi Sylvain, thanks for the article.  It's a nice survey of the various mobile app analytics services that are available and does a good job delving into the strategy and importance of using them.  We use Flurry Analytics (the first service described in your article) in our iOS apps and have been pleased with the results. To make the most of this service we even developed an iOS app called Flutter that allows users to keep track of their Flurry Analytics data on the go.  Hope this is a good resource for your readers:

http://durbinware.com/products/flutter

Alexis 1992
Alexis 1992 5pts

Hi Sylvain,

In your list, you haven't mentionned AdXTracking. What do you think about this software? 

Thank you!

Sylvain Gauchet
Sylvain Gauchet 5pts

From HackerNews: http://keen.io/ (build analytics features directly into your apps) is another analytics service not mentioned on this list.

Sylvain Gauchet
Sylvain Gauchet 5pts

One of our followers on twitter also mentioned piwik.org, which is Real-time and Open Source.

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