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App Performance


The Benefits of Observability for Mobile App Developers

360 view of mobile app performance

What do we mean when we say “application observability”? Observability is a step up from traditional mobile application monitoring. Beyond tracking crashes and errors, observability gives you the full context of the sessions where the errors occurred so you can quickly fix the issue. Moreover, observability enables you to get ahead of app errors by allowing you to identify areas of poor performance before they cause any issues.

Application observability provides mobile developers with unprecedented insight into their app's performance. If you’re a developer, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the headache of a tricky crash that you just can't identify its root cause. Observability tells you the state of your application and collects more in-depth data that provides you with actionable insights that help you address problems as quickly as possible.

Application Observability Benefits

What else does observability mean for your mobile app performance? Here are a few things that app observability can help you with:

Fix crashes faster with application observability

Many traditional error reporting tools provide insight into crashes, but they’ll stop at the basic information like stack trace and console logs. As a developer, this information isn’t always enough to identify the root cause and issue a quick fix.

Application observability platforms capture more comprehensive information like network logs, repro steps, session profiles, and more about each crash, making identifying and fixing issues quicker and more efficient. Observability tools will also help you understand how many users are affected by a crash and the segment they belong to so you can understand exactly how each crash is impacting your users and prioritize issues accordingly.

Boost app startup times

Your app startup time is a crucial moment in user engagement because it is their first interaction with your app and many users will bounce if your app takes too long to launch. Mobile app users are not a very patient bunch and 49% of them expect apps to launch in two seconds or less.

Issues that delay your app’s startup time can significantly impact both your engagement and business metrics. Observability is critical to help you detect slow app startup times, identify their cause, and optimize your app launch time.

Identify and fix all exception types

There are many types of exceptions and crashes that most traditional error reporting tools do not detect and you might not even have any idea they are happening. NDK crashes, C++ crashes, SwiftUI exceptions, and network crashes are some of the exception types that observability tools can help you detect and fix.

Identify and fix OOM and ANR errors

Out of Memory (OOM) and Application Not Responding (ANR) errors are not technically crashes, but the vast majority of your users will not make that distinction. They are just as disruptive to your app's user experience as crashes are and should be given the same priority.

Most traditional crash reporting tools don’t capture OOM and ANR errors or give you little information about why they happened. Platforms with observability like Instabug can help you fix these issues as they occur because of their ability to dig deeper into individual sessions and give you the full context.

Identify and measure forced restarts

A forced restart is when someone fully exits out of your app and it can happen for various reasons — they may want to reduce battery usage or made an action they wish to reset — so it doesn't always point to an issue with your app.

However, if you’ve recently released a new feature and notice a spike in forced restarts or find that a large percentage of your forced restarts happen on a specific screen, then users may be closing your app due to a technical issue that’s worth looking into.

Accelerate your workflow

Imagine what you could do with data from individual user sessions compiled into a timeline that makes sense. You wouldn’t spend ages trying to identify problems, banging your head against your desk because the code just. Won’t. Work. As a single developer or member of a DevOps team, mobile observability enables you to accelerate and streamline your workflow to accomplish tasks faster, and your system works as smoothly as possible.

Reduce alert fatigue

Workers in many industries experience different kinds of alert fatigue. In mobile app development, it means you’re so accustomed to (or tired of) system alerts that you’re too desensitized to address them, or they’re so unspecific that you can’t do much about them. Yes, there’s another crash, and another, and another, but what are you supposed to do about them without sufficient insight?

Platforms for monitoring mobile apps should offer more than basic crash notifications. The more you know about a problem, the more you can do to fix it before another pops up. Plus, you dread alerts less if they give you actionable insight!

Minimize the need for error logging

You’ve probably already used error logging because many traditional performance monitoring tools enable it. If not, error logging is when you expect an error to occur, so you log it in your system to know every time it happens again. This method might tell you an issue’s frequency, but similar errors can occur for various reasons, rendering your log in-actionable. Thankfully, observability can help you make sense of your app’s complexity, providing you necessary context that enables you to solve both unique and recurring problems as they arise.

Improve your app's user experience

Ultimately, observability allows developers like you to optimize your app’s user experience. That’s why you build and maintain an app; to meet a need in your users’ lives. But they won’t engage with it if they constantly experience issues or poor performance. Observability enables you to produce actionable outputs from problems you do and don’t see coming, making your life easier and your app an all-around better product.

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