Embarcadero launches AppAnalytics to help developers better understand users
Embarcadero has launched its first hosted backend service to provide software application developers with detailed information on how users are interacting with desktop, mobile and wearable apps.
Embarcadero, the app development software manufacturer, has launched an analytics suite that claims to cover all insights that app developers are yearning for – identifying what features are being used, specifying new events and understanding user experiences.
Built on top of its RAD Studio XE8 connected app platform, this analytics suite is designed to help teams focus on the features that their users enjoy, and is free to anyone already paying for Embarcadero’s development tools. Embarcadero’s John Thomas spoke to us about how application analytics has largely remained a “black art” until now.
JAXenter: Could you perhaps start out by telling us a bit about Embarcadero’s new AppAnalytics project?
John Thomas: Sure, AppAnalytics is a new service provided by Embarcadero that enables developers to capture user behaviour and demographics from their deployed applications and store them for later analysis in the cloud. Our AppAnalytics service is super easy to use and supports both mobile and desktop operating systems, which clients build with RAD Studio, Delphi, C++Builder or Appmethod.
We also support both our Windows native VCL framework and our cross-platform FMX framework. Developers simply add the new AppAnalytics component to their application, provide a unique AppID from the portal, and redeploy their apps. With no code changes, they can now see how many times their apps have been used (and on which operating systems and CPUs), which user interface (UI) elements end users use most and how they flow within the UI, and if any exceptions or crashes occur.
How have developers been approaching app analytics until now?
For the most part they haven’t. Finding out how end users actually use your app has been a bit of a black art based largely on qualitative analysis. This could have taken the form of customer interviews, end user surveys, or in person user testing, all of which are valuable, but also leave much room to interpretation.
How do you expect this to change with the AppAnalytics service? What kind of typical use cases can you imagine?
With AppAnalytics, developers can see exactly how their apps are being used with quantitative measurements. This takes the guesswork out of figuring out where to invest engineering efforts to improve the overall user experience. They know exactly what percentages of users are on which operating systems. They know when an app crashes in the wild. A typical use case would be the following.
A development team believes a particular feature or UI workflow will be very popular and highly utilised, so much engineering time is spent developing that feature. With AppAnalytics they can know pretty quickly if they were right or wrong and fine-tune or disinvest in that particular feature. Also, knowing which platforms end users are actually on is invaluable for planning and priorities. If you know most of your users are on Windows and not MacOS X (or Android vs iOS), you can invest accordingly.
Can you tell us a bit about RAD Studio and how it works?
RAD Studio is a development environment, runtime application platform, and set of cloud and on-premise services that enable app creation for the whole end-to-end solution, from high performance mobile and desktop clients, to REST enabled middleware, to cloud services, to Enterprise backend databases. RAD Studio provides a common API for C++ and Object Pascal developers to build native desktop and Android and iOS mobile apps.
Developers visually create their user interface and easily tie in application logic into event handlers by writing code. They can also access hundreds of operating system services like memory and file i/o, device sensors, maps, browser, app sharing and tethering, data access, Bluetooth and beacons, through pre-built components or directly through the OS APIs.
How is the user data or interactions stored? Does it pass through Embarcadero’s hands?
The user data, called an event, is captured in the app and cached for a periodic update to the AppAnalytics cloud service. The event gets stored for the registered AppID in the cloud and developers access reports about the events over time through the AppAnalytics portal.
The data lives on hosted Embarcadero servers but remains anonymous. Developers should not store any private or sensitive data in the AppAnalytics service.