Tag Archives: multiplatform apps

App performance to drive app excellence

Posted by Maru Ahues Bouza, Director Android Developer Relations

hand drawing shapes on a tablet

In our previous blog post in this series, we defined app excellence as “creating an app that provides consistent, effortless, and seamless app user experiences. It is high performing and provides a great experience, no matter the device being used.” Let’s focus on the concept of app performance — what are the features of high performing apps, and how do you achieve app excellence through strong performance?

From a user’s perspective, high-performing apps “just work.” However, the process of creating a high performing app is not always straightforward. To break things down, here are the main dimensions of high performance:

Stability

An app should be robust and reliable. It should not freeze (application not responding, or “ANR”) or crash. Before you launch your app, check out Google Play’s pre-launch report to identify potential stability issues. After deployment, pay attention to the Android Vitals page in the Google Play developer console. Specifically, ANRs are caused by threading issues. The ANR troubleshooting guide can help you diagnose and resolve any ANRs that exist in your app.

Quick loading

Imagine the first experience a user has of your app is…..waiting. At some point, they are going to get distracted or bored, and you have lost a new user. Your app should either load quickly or provide some sort of feedback onscreen such as a progress indicator. You can use data from Android vitals to quantify any issues you may have with start up times. Android vitals considers excessive start up times as:

  • Cold startup takes 5 seconds or longer.
  • Warm startup takes 2 seconds or longer.
  • Hot startup takes 1.5 seconds or longer.

However, these are relatively conservative numbers. We recommend you aim for lower. Here are some great tips on how to test start up performance.

Fast rendering

High quality frame rendering is not just for games. Smooth visual experiences that don’t stall or act sluggish are also important for apps. At a minimum aim to render frames every 16ms to achieve 60 frames per second, but bear in mind there are devices in the market with faster refresh rates. To monitor performance as you test, use the Profile HWUI rendering option. Here are tools to help diagnose rendering issues.

Economical with battery usage

As soon as a user realizes your app is draining their battery, they are going to consider uninstalling. Your app can drain battery through stuck partial wake locks, excessive wakeups, background Wifi scans, or background network usage. Use the Android Studio energy profiler combined with planned background work, to diagnose unexpected battery use. For apps that need to execute background tasks that require a guarantee that the system will run them even if the app exits, WorkManager is a battery friendly Android Jetpack library that runs deferrable, guaranteed background work when the work’s constraints are satisfied.

Using up-to-date SDKs

For both security and performance, it’s important that any Google or third-party SDKs used are up-to-date. Improvements to these SDKs, such as stability, compatibility, or security, should be available to users in a timely manner. You are responsible for the entire code base, including any third party SDKs you may utilize. For Google SDKs, consider using SDKs powered by Google Play services, when available. These SDKs are backward compatible, receive automatic updates, reduce your app package size, and make efficient use of on-device resources.

To learn more, please visit the Android app excellence webpage, where you will find case studies, practical tips, and the opportunity to sign up for our App Excellence summit..

In our next blog posts, we will talk about seamless user experiences across devices. Sign up to the Android developer newsletter here to be notified of the next installment and get news and insights from the Android team.

Working Towards Android App Excellence

Posted by Jacob Lehrbaum Director of Developer Relations, Android

illustration of freckled hand over mobile phone with graphs

Great app experiences are great for business. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Android app users who leave a 5 star review on Google Play mention the quality of their experience with the app1; its speed, design, and usability. At Google, we want to help all developers achieve app excellence, and in turn help you drive user acquisition, retention, and monetization.

So what is “app excellence”? This may sound aspirational, but it is within reach for many apps. It starts with a laser focus on the user, and more specifically, with intuitive user experiences that get people to the main functionality of your app as quickly as possible — but that is just the beginning. Excellent apps are consistent across all of their screens and experiences. They perform well, no matter the device used. App excellence is achievable when all of the stakeholders who influence your app are invested in the experience of using your app.

One of the blockers that gets in the way of app excellence is shared or unclear accountability. Some of the primary measures of app quality, such as crashes and load times, are often seen as the responsibility of one group in the company, such as the engineering team. However, when we talk to best-in-class organizations2 about how they achieve app quality, it is clear that taking a cross-functional approach is key, with engineering, design, product, and business teams working toward a common goal.

So what are some internal best practices behind app excellence?

Make app quality a cross-organizational focus — not just an engineering concern

It’s a way easier conversation for me at the business end because I can say “these competitors’ apps are faster than ours; we need to reduce our load time down from 5 seconds to 4 seconds”.
Software engineer, x-platform app

App excellence helps drive business performance. New features are great, but if they slow down app start-up times or take up too much device space, people will eventually use your app less often or even delete it. Engineers who have built a company-wide focus on quality have often done so by quantifying the impact of quality issues on business performance, through:

  • Case studies showing the impact of responsiveness, APK size, start-up time, and memory usage on business KPIs. Here you can find practical case studies showcasing how developers such as Headspace and Duolingo achieved app excellence.
  • Benchmarking against competitor apps. Check out peer benchmarks and other metrics on the Google Play Console.

Organize teams around features and/or app user journey stages

Companies that organize teams around features — or stages in the user journey — are more likely to deliver consistent experiences across each operating system they support, bring new apps or features to market faster, and deliver a better app experience for all their customers. These teams are often cross-functional groups that span engineering, marketing, ux, and product — and are responsible for the success of a feature or user journey stage3 across all devices and platforms. In addition to better experiences and feature parity, this structure enables alignment of goals across functional areas while reducing silos, and it also helps teams hyper-focus on addressing specific objectives.

Feature organized team graph

Squads focused on business objectives heighten focus on the user.

Use the same devices your customers use

If a majority of your users are on a specific type of device, you can build empathy for their experience if you use the same phone, tablet or smart watch as your primary device. This is especially relevant for senior leadership in your organization who make decisions that impact the day-to-day experience of millions of users. For example, Duolingo has built this into their company DNA. Every Duolingo employee — including their CEO — either uses exclusively or has access to an entry level Android device to reflect a significant portion of their user base.

A user-centric approach to quality and app excellence is essential to business growth. If you are interested in learning how to achieve app excellence, read our case studies with practical tips, and sign up to attend our App Excellence Summit by visiting the Android app excellence webpage.

In subsequent blog posts, we will dig deep into two drivers of excellent app experiences: app performance and how it is linked to user behavior, and creating seamless user experiences across devices. Sign up to the Android developer newsletter here to be notified of the next installment, and get news and insights from the Android team.

Notes


  1. Internal Google Play data, 2021. 

  2. Google App Quality Research, 2021 

  3. The series of steps each user takes as they interact with your app is referred to as the “user journey.” Examples of user journey stages include installs, onboarding, engagement, and retention