Top Mobile App Tools (SDKs) & Trends

The Hottest Mobile App Tools (SDKs) of Q4 2016

by Orly Shoavi, Co-Founder & CEO, SafeDK

It wasn’t too long ago that mobile app publishers were in the dark when it came to their third party SDKs. Of course, they knew they needed them. There was no question about it. They needed them to improve their monetization, to get better insights about their users, to perfect retention and ROI. But app publishers didn’t really know what these black boxes contained and how they behaved — how they impacted their app, their user experience and if they were as beneficial as they claimed to be.

In full disclosure, I’ll admit I was once one of those app developers “in the dark.” I felt frustrated every time I had to decide which SDK would best address my needs and what to do when I experienced a problem due to SDK.

So a little over two years ago, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We founded SafeDK: the complete SDK management solution in real-time.

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Co-Founders of SafeDK, Ronnie Sternberg & Orly Shoavi

We wanted to give app publishers the power to know what the SDK activity is in real-time, know in advance about potential privacy breaches, get to the bottom of crashes and issues quickly and if necessary — turn off the SDK completely.

Our first challenge was to identify the SDKs — which parts of the app code were really the app’s code and which parts were SDKs, and which SDKs each part was. When we got that done, we suddenly realized we had incredible knowledge at our disposal. We released a tool we called the App X-Ray, giving any curious party the opportunity to view a list of SDKs implemented by any free Android app.

Analyzing more and more apps, we ended up with extensive data about the big industry players and their market share. Since we knew first-hand not only the pains of using SDKs, but also the thirst for this kind of data, what else could we do besides releasing a report about the hottest SDK players?

Last May, we released our first ever Android SDKs Trend Report, including the top players overall.

Feeling the holiday cheer, we recently released a second report based on an analysis of over 100,000 free Android apps, comprised of apps featured in Google Play’s top charts. These apps implement hundreds of SDKs, including all top industry players.

The report looks at October 2016 data and analyzes internationally active SDKs. The data is then compared with the data presented in the April 2016 report to reveal leading trends.

Please note that we are sharing a partial selection of the findings that are presented in the full report. To access the full report, click here.

Select Report Highlights

We looked at the number of SDKs that are implemented by a single mobile app on average, and how this number has changed in the past six months:

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Avg. Number of SDKs by Month (2016)

The average number has grown significantly, and is now standing on 17.6 as opposed to being 15.6 only 6 months before. This trend brings great news for both SDK players and related investors, as it shows that the potential in the SDK market is still huge, the market is growing and has not yet reached its limit. In short, the cake is getting bigger.

Moreover, the average number of integrated SDKs varies between different app categories. This was seen in the first report we presented back in May. But now we’ve discovered that mobile games no longer lead in the average number of SDKs:

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App Category & Game Category Avg Number of SDKs

One can say that more SDKs mean more advanced capabilities, a stronger monetization strategy and so forth, so we can assume that more traditional app categories are becoming more aggressive with their business efforts. Games were always considered early SDK adopters in their business approach. Can we assume that apps from other categories are filling the gaps?

Which are the most popular SDK categories?

Things are relatively stable here, with analytics and advertising still on top (though the advertising category has lost some market share, due to other categories gaining market share).

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Analytics is still a must-have for app publishers wanting to know how their app is being used and how UX affects user actions etc. And with Advertising being the bread and butter of the free apps world, it’s no surprise seeing it’s still a close second.

Who are the top SDK players — now and then?

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Not surprisingly, Google Play Services is still — as it was on our previous report — integrated by nearly 100% of all Android apps. But it’s interesting to note that out of the top five SDKs, four dropped in rank while Google Play Services is even closer to 100% of free Android apps than it was before. The report delves deeper, giving more insights about the categories to which these SDKs belong.

Download our full report to explore all the categories such as: Advertising, Inbound Analytics, Attribution Analytics, Engagement, Crash Reporting, Social Network, Payment and Rewarded Videos.

SDK map of different geos

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We’ve examined specific geos as well, looking at how trends may look in different development origin countries. It seems that the global trend of the growing amount of SDKs integrated within apps is true across the globe, as the average number of SDKs integrated within apps was roughly 2 SDKs higher than in April.

New players

Firebase, the new mega-SDK that was introduced by Google last May is featured, and although not yet ruling the top charts, it has definitely made its appearance noticeable. Nearly 9% of all Android apps we’ve examined are already actively using at least one Firebase package.

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Also, Firebase’s crash reporting SDK is putting up quite a fight against Twitter’s Crashlytics:

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A lot can change in six months…

In this second edition of our mobile SDKs trend report, we set out to not only reveal new trends, but to also run an interesting comparison to last April’s data.

The appearance of Firebase, the new SDK from Google, as well as the increase in the average number of SDKs integrated in apps, had reminded us how fast things change in this industry.

Other notable discoveries included data gathered from apps in new Play Store categories, as well as specific SDKs that are gaining market share at the expense of others and much more…

Download the report to get the full picture.

We will continue to monitor the Android SDKs market, watching for more trends, developments, entrance of new players and new categories.

We will publish another report in the near future to see where the trends are, as well as point out new trends and get the overall sense of the SDKs ecosystem.

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