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Crittercism Improves Analytics Capabilities for Hybrid Mobile Apps

Mobile app intelligence company Crittercism, which provides analytics about app usage, performance and UX, today announced improved functionality to track hybrid apps.

Hybrid apps typically wrap Web-based HTML5/JavaScript/CSS code -- or webviews -- in a native app, providing the benefits of both approaches in one solution. However, Crittercism said they pose a problem to mobile app analytics solutions, which often need two tracking solutions -- on client and server -- to monitor the Web and native functionality.

Crittercism said that can be complicated and difficult to achieve and often doesn't provide a complete analytic picture of an app's usage and performance. Its solution is to combine those two tracking agents into one simpler monitoring mechanism.

This is done by new extensions for its iOS and Android SDKs that simplify the tracking of real-time UX, performance issues and diagnostic information, including crash reporting, API service monitoring and business transactions.

"We've seen tremendous activity in hybrid app development among our customers in recent years, and the challenge has always been understanding user experience," said Crittercism CTO Robert Kwok in a statement today. "Many times performance issues can arise as users transition between the static, native side of an app and the more dynamic Web side. Historically, two separate agents, one on the mobile device and the other on the server, have been used to attempt to monitor hybrid, but this approach is cumbersome and offers an incomplete picture of user experience. Crittercism's new single mobile agent unifies the monitoring of the disparate parts of a hybrid app so that companies can better understand and optimize their customers' journey."

This functionality can have an immediate, real-world impact on an app maker's bottom line, said Crittercism developer evangelist Chris Beauchamp in a blog post today.

"Imagine a scenario where a user is browsing products within your app, adds a few items to the cart and goes to check out," Beauchamp said. "The app slows to a halt, causing the user to exit the app, leaving a potential sale. How do you discover and fix these issues when they span two separate platforms? For any app, especially hybrid ones, resolving these issues can be complex and cause headaches for both your users and your development team."

Those headaches can be alleviated using the company's new unified tracking approach, Beauchamp said, in conjunction with its business transaction feature, which lets developers concentrate on mission-critical user workflows that -- in hybrid apps -- might encompass both the native and Web parts of an app.

Crittercism has lately been spending more time on explaining the hybrid approach in writings and a video and tailoring its products to accommodate it, with Beauchamp recently penning another blog post examining "What is a Hybrid App? And why should my business care?"

Why? Because it sees tremendous momentum in that space.

"The 'Native vs. Hybrid' debate has been raging for years, so what's new here?" Beauchamp said. "Recently we've been seeing an increase in hybrid app development. In fact, Gartner predicts that by the end of next year, more than 50 percent of apps will be developed with hybrid technologies. Both Android and iOS have improved their support for webkit (the underlying technology in webviews) to make hybrid performance faster and better. With the need for businesses to reach as many platforms and devices as possible, hybrid will be the most tangible way to accomplish that using the least amount of development resources."

He promised more blog posts to further examine the issue. In the meantime, the iOS SDK extension for the improved hybrid functionality is available now -- with documentation -- while the Android version is promised soon.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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