Successful app developers making more than $50k/ month are more likely to use third party tools according a recent survey of 10,000 developers.¹
These developers use the tools to do most of the heavy lifting required by their apps like scalable infrastructure, automated testing, cross platform compatibility, crash and performance monitoring.
These third party tools help developers save costs and create solutions that would otherwise require huge investment to compete with the big players.
We will review some of the top tools used by the top mobile app developers.
1) Ad Networks
It is no surprise that ad networks come on the top of the list. With a majority of the apps using the freemium model, most of the app developers are showing ads to make money. Most developers cannot afford the cost of having dedicated time or teams to fill their ad inventories and with these ad networks its simply a matter of integrating with a few lines of code with these ad networks and their apps are ready to make money by showing ad inventories of these ad networks.
2) Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is the most liked third party tool by app developers. 29% of the successful app developers use cloud computing. It’s a no brainer for most of the app startups because it not only allows them to build scalable apps but also hides the abstraction of building data centers. “Platform as a service” providers hides the abstraction of managing servers, scaling, failovers e.t.c.
Managing cloud server without these tools would otherwise be very expensive for small to medium sized app developers and they can very easily scale with their growth.
3) Crash and Performance Monitoring
Apps are not like web apps, where there is only one deployment and you can monitor and fix bugs right there. The apps are deployed on hundreds and thousands of mobiles and the only way you can monitor them is by having some monitoring code in them that monitors for performance issues, bugs and sends you a report as soon as it happens so you know the health of your app and take actions as required.
4) Beta Testing
Unlike web apps, where you can deploy the website on a demo server behind password protection. For apps, you cannot release beta apps to appstore with unfinished functionality and the approval times for apple’s appstore are atleast 4-5 days so you don’t want your appstore users to give you bad reviews.
The only way for developers to beta test apps is to use tools like testflight that allow you to release the app to a group of beta users who can test the app before you publish it to appstore.
5) Cross Platform tools
You have to develop for iOS because its where the most elite users are and you have to develop for Android because thats where the most users are. For some apps, its a requirement to also build on windows and blackberry depending on the target user base. One of the option is to use platform’s own SDK and build out on each platform separately from scratch.
App development is expensive and building from scratch for each platform is not something every mobile startup can afford. Many successful app developers use cross platform tools like titanium and phonegap to cut the price by a significant margin. This helps them reach a large user base and once they are in good position in terms of investment or revenue, they can redevelop the apps with most usage using native technology to give superior user experience on that platform.
6) User Analytics
Top app developers iterate fast based on the usage of their mobile apps using analytics including A/B testing. These analytics allow them to create roadmaps for their apps based on usage and remove/add features based on analytics rather than user perceptions.
Not using analytics in app development is also on our list of classic mistakes on mobile strategy
¹. Source: VisionMobile Survey of 10,000 Developers