As 2017 quickly winds down, we’re excited to release a new report that documents the fastest-growing SDKs of this year to help app developers understand what technologies are taking off.
Last year’s report broke down SDKs based on selected categories (e.g. analytics, monetization), but this year we’re looking at growth across all SDKs — regardless of what category they fall into. We believe this provides a new and exciting way to identify mobile trends. As a developer, you can now see how your peers have changed their approach to building apps over the past year and what new tools they’re implementing. We hope this unearths new opportunities and resources that you can leverage in creating your own, unique app.
What follows are some trends we found compelling; however, given the sheer volume of data, there were many that we didn’t include. We decided to make the full report public here. These interactive charts allow you to explore the data yourself, so you can tease out your own insights. We’d love to hear any noteworthy insights you found on your own — just share them in the comments section.
Using data from MightySignal, we can identify SDKs that are embedded in all iOS and Android apps. We scan every app updated or released, enabling us to see how SDK adoption changes over time. In this report, we focus on Android apps. Reach out to us if you would like details about SDKs in iOS apps.
Without further ado, here are the mobile trends we identified by analyzing the fastest growing SDKs of 2017.
1. Developers opted for app development platforms
In 2017, mobile developers opted to use app development platforms (one SDK that provides many functions) more than they did specialized ones (many SDKs each serving different functions). You’ll see at the top of the ranks: Firebase (Google’s SDK), HockeyApp (Microsoft’s SDK), and Facebook. They all provide functionality across the board — from
As a developer, keep in mind that between app development platforms, the range of functionalities they offer still differ. Firebase’s platform seems to cover the full range of an app’s life cycle, with its
Despite the surging popularity of app development platforms, specialized SDKs did grow quickly as well, albeit not as fast. We can see in the top 100 fastest growing SDKs, technologies like
Our best guess as to why app development platforms were adopted so much faster than specialized ones is that our dataset includes all Android apps, largely built by small and nimble developers. App development platforms may be more appealing to
Another reason why we might see strong growth in app development platforms is
As a developer, it’s important to pick the technologies that suit your needs the best. However, whether it’s signal or noise, the trend amongst your peers was to use app development platforms as opposed to specialized ones in 2017.
2. Ad-tech continues to be a key approach to monetization. Try Mediation SDKs.
As industries evolve, it’s just as important to understand what isn’t changing as what is. Perhaps unsurprisingly, ad tech remains one of the hottest, fastest-growing technologies adopted by developers in 2017.
Specific SDKs in the top 100 include the following:
- Admob by Google
- Flurry by Verizon
- Supersonic / ironSource
- Facebook Audience Network
- Unity Ads
Given ad-displaying SDKs command a great deal of developer mindshare already, we don’t have much narrative to add. However, a space that may be under-reported in ad tech is mediation. For those who are unfamiliar, mediation SDKs allow developers and publishers to increase ad revenues by enabling apps to serve ads from multiple sources while ensuring that the ads that generate the most revenue are displayed at all times. For example, as the app developer, while you might install Vungle, Chartboost, and AdColony into your app to serve ads, you can use AdMob mediation to pick the ad that will pay you the most an any given time. This alleviates the burden of optimizing ad revenue yourself.
To use mediation in your mobile app, you often need to include adapters that allow the mediation SDK to communicate with ad-displaying SDKs. The fastest growing mediation adapter was between Admob mediation and Facebook Audience Network.
As a developer, it may be useful to know that despite the massive technology shifts and hype cycles in AI, AR/VR, Blockchain, and cats, one thing remains constant: your peers still choose ads as a tried and trusted way to monetize their apps.
3. Mobile apps are increasingly interacting with their surroundings
As the saying goes, predictions are hard, especially when they’re about the future. When Urban Airship first pioneered its push notification SDK in 2009, it took years before developers started to heavily using push notifications. Though beacon growth has been slower than many anticipated, it may be on a similar trajectory to push, which is now table-stakes in an app’s experience. As a developer, it may be worth considering incorporating location into your app; as your peers are incorporating it into their apps quickly, the broader consumer audience may become more and more accustomed to such an experience.
4. Developers have a growing need to visualize data
A challenge we are all too familiar with at MightySignal is that while apps may collect and store terabytes and terabytes of data, the mere presence of data does not equate to value delivered. Data must be organized and presented in such a way to answer important questions. That’s why we’re not surprised to see that one of the fastest growing SDKs is a data visualization SDK
MPAndroidChart enables developers to present their in-app data in meaningful charts. For example, this app developed by Wachanga displays day by day statistics of a newborn’s feeding.
Other apps you may be familiar with using MPAndroidChart include:
- 7 Minute Workout, a fitness app
- AllTrails, a hiking app
- Citi Mobile, a personal banking app
- Coinbase, a cryptocurrency investing app
- Redfin, a real estate app
The takeaway here is that as apps gather more and more data, the need to visualize the data and make sense of it is more and more pressing. If data aggregation and presentation is core to your app, you should consider the MPAndroidChart (or its iOS counterpart, Charts) as a way to visualize the data for your users.
Looking ahead to 2018
To recap, our report last year focused on the most popular SDKs in specific categories. This year, we started with data on adoption for all SDKs regardless of type, then analyzed to see which SDKs experienced notable growth and what that signals. The result is an understanding of how developers are changing their approach to building their apps, in hopes that it will spur new ideas and opportunities.
Click here to view the data for the report. We don’t claim to have teased out every trend, so if you happen to find one yourself, feel free to let us know in the comments. The trends included in this report are:
- App development platforms are chosen more often than specialized SDKs
- Ad tech is still a go-to way to monetize apps
- Developers are increasingly incorporating location into their app experiences
- Developers are visualizing data they are collecting in their app
The mobile market is still relatively young, and much of it is changing. While we may have reached the end of phase one (largely about putting mobile phones in as many people’s hands as possible), phase two is only beginning (marked by consolidation, optimization, and analysis). As a developer, there is still plenty of
MightySignal provides market intelligence on mobile apps. We power sales and marketing strategies with data on mobile SDKs, mobile advertising, and more. To get in touch, contact us here.