First Impressions of Google Analytics for Mobile Apps

If you’re like me, dutifully following updates from the Android Developers group and the Google Mobile Blog, you probably got excited last week that Google had quietly announced an analytics API giving Android and iPhone applications Google Analytics-esque metrics. And like you, I also immediately checked out the SDK documentation only to find the links it contained to the SDK download were giving back a 403! Serious Buzzkill!

For the next few days I tried crafting URLs to an accessible version of the SDK, but to no avail. Then Google, quietly again, updated the SDK documentation with valid links to a 0.7 version of the SDK. In case gremlins get into the copy again, here’s the valid SDK links as of now:

Google Analytics Tracking for Mobile Apps (Android SDK 0.7)
Google Analytics Tracking for Mobile Apps (iPhone SDK 0.7)

So I got all excited again. I downloaded the 0.7 SDK, re-read the documentation, setup a “dummy” Google Analytics profile, and hooked it up to one of our Android apps. A few trackPageView(…)’s here, a few trackEvent(…)’s there, installed the new build on my phone and ran through it a few times. The next step was obvious, login to the Google Analytics website and check the results …

… which became a little ritual I would carry out every 30 minutes for the next 8 hours or so! It took forever for the first results to get posted. During development this would be an issue because we’d want to iterate a few times to figure out exactly where to put our PageView and Event hooks. I say “would” be an issue because our calls to the API’s trackEvent(…) method weren’t showing up! BAH! Bad enough perhaps, but the visitor and page view counts appeared off also!

Gripped with frustration and facing the fact that we’re steering blind not having good metrics on any of our mobile apps, today I decided to check out Flurry. I’ll skip the details, but until a new version of GA for Mobile is released, save yourself some time and check out Flurry or one of the other 3rd party analytics vendors. Flurry was easier to implement, understand, and debug. There’s still a small delay seeing results on their site, but nothing compared to the delay with GA. Also, Flurry, like GA, is free … though Flurry’s site states they will offer various pay features in the future.

I admit I probably implemented GA wrong and that I could probably get it working if I spent more time with it. But that’s time I don’t have these days. The documentation is a little sparse and I haven’t seen much on the groups about the GA SDK.

Anyone having similar problems?

Final Analysis: while my heart is still with Google, my mobile analytics are now with Flurry.

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