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Tools the Top 100 iOS Apps Use: A Categorical Breakdown

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Tools the Top 100 iOS Apps Use: A Categorical Breakdown

Want to get your apps in the top 100 some day? Mobile's a winner-take-all game, and the tools here may be just what your app needs to level up to the top of the App store.

· Mobile Zone ·
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Most of us want to get our apps in the top 100 some day. With mobile being a winner-take-all game, the traffic and prestige that come from making it into the top lists in the App Store may be just what your app needs to level up.

But breaking into the top 100 can be a Herculean task.

Recently, Ryan Olson compiled a list of the libraries used in the top 100 iOS apps. Perusing the list, one might recognize a few names here and there. But unless you spend time intimately working with each of these tools, it’s difficult to get a sense of what’s actually going on.

We decided to dig deeper to better understand the tools the top 100 free iOS apps are using. In this post, we comb through the list to figure out how many of the top 100 free iOS apps integrate with each tool, and what category the bulk of the tools fall into to better understand what mobile teams are prioritizing.

*Editor’s note: For this post, we decided not to include libraries only related to mobile games as those are not as applicable for a broad app marketing audience.

There are a few key categories of libraries that were widely adopted by mobile teams. This in particular included quality assurance, mobile user acquisition, social, and user experience focused tools. Let’s start at the top.

Quality Assurance (75 Instances)

By now, most teams know that ensuring your app doesn’t crash should be a top priority. Users have a low tolerance for buggy apps, with only 16% willing to try a failing app more than twice. The data pulled seems to reflect this, as well. Out of 100 apps, there are 75 instances of crash analytics and reporting tools noted by Olson. These tools ensure that teams are able to see when an app is crashing for users, but also dig into why and fix it as quickly as humanly possible.

  • Crashlytics (37/100) Lightweight app crash reporting and analytics.
  • HockeyApp (14/100) Live crash reports, user feedback, test coverage analysis, and app tester recruitment.
  • Google Breakpad (14/100) This crash handler generates minidumps when your mobile app crashes, which can be sent back to you to help figure out what caused the crash.
  • PLCrashReporter (10/100) Provides an in-process crash reporting framework (powers most of the crash reporting services available for iOS, including HockeyApp, Flurry, and Crittercism.)

Identification (38 Instances)

Identification was one of the most surprising tidbits found in this data. Even though UDID and UUID have been deprecated for a few years now, there were still many instances found in the top apps. For those not familiar, identifiers like UDID (Unique Device Identification) were very popular among apps because they allowed teams to track users without logins, as well as analyze crash reports, isolate bugs, and other app conveniences.

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Identifiers such as UDID act like social security numbers, used for tracking purposes. Apple started to deprecate identifiers due to privacy concerns and some concerns voiced in the U.S. Congress. They started rejecting apps that tracked UDIDs and even threatened to kick them out of the App Store.

  • OpenUDID (17/100)A now deprecated identification method, UDID is surprisingly popular among many top apps today. UDID or Unique Device Identifier has been deemed an ethical and privacy risk for users, yet we can see that 17 of the 100 top apps are still using it. Curious.
  • BPXLUUIDHandler (11/100) A universally unique identifier or UUID allows teams to track a user between app usage sessions, assigning a unique identifier while the user has an app installed. This means that app makers are able to track a user that has not logged in across multiple app sessions. However, if the app is uninstalled the ID will change.
  • SecureUDID (10/100) A Crashlytics version of UDID.

Monetization and Acquisition, a.k.a. Ads (170 Instances)

In mobile marketing, the benefits can be twofold: user acquisition and monetization.

Mobile growth is oftentimes more difficult than adoption on web. As the App Store has an iron grip on the most effective distribution channel, supplementary tactics can often be quite effective.

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That’s where mobile marketing tools come in, and they’re clearly prevalent. They help companies not only publicize their apps, but they also often able to attribute which channels were most effective.

The second benefit of using mobile marketing is the monetization aspect. Through using in-app advertisements, teams have an alternative channel for driving revenue other than charging for their apps (which often leads to fewer downloads) or up selling within an app.

The number of advertising libraries found across the top apps was quite surprising, especially given the recent backlash and increased adoption of ad blocking tools. However, marketing still seems to be very effective in helping acquire users and monetize their app.

  • Google-Mobile-Ads-SDK (38/100) Helps growing publishers sell, schedule, deliver, and measure their digital mobile ad inventory.
  • GoogleConversionTracking (29/100) See how your ads lead to conversion activity, like purchases and downloads.
  • MoPub (25/100) A Twitter product that helps mobile publishers manage their ad inventory.
  • Adjust (16/100) BI platform with a focus on attribution.
  • Applovin (13/100) Mobile marketing automation and analytics.
  • InMobiSDK (9/100) A lightweight SDK for mobile ad monetization.
  • MobileAppTracker (9/100) An advanced, full-service mobile marketing platform.
  • Kochava (7/100) A robust mobile analytics platform.
  • AppNexus (7/100) Cloud-based software platform that enables and optimizes programmatic online advertising.
  • Supersonic Ads (6/100) A mobile advertising platform.
  • SponsorPay SDK (6/100) Fyber’s SDK that accesses the Apple Advertising Identifier (IDFA).
  • Appsflyer (5/100) A mobile marketing analytics and attribution platform.

Video Ads (33 Instances)

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Another monetization strategy is to use full screen video ads, which we found most commonly on mobile games. These can be highly engaging for users and provide a more immersive ad experience.

  • AdColony (22/100) An ad monetization tool that delivers full screen video ads of high quality to mobile users.
  • Vungle (11/100) Another SDK that does personalized mobile video ads.

App Reviews (22 Instances)

Due to the fact that user ratings are a major factor when it comes to App Store Optimization, garnering great user reviews is more top of mind for many product teams. As a result, a significant proportion of the top 100 apps are using tools that help remind users to rate their apps.

This post originally appeared on the Apptentive Blog

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