Tracking iPhone App Usage

After the initial release of UFO Invader there was one thing that I found extremely frustrating.  Lack of information about how many people were using the game, how often they were playing, and what areas of the menus were being accessed.  I was left to guess based on download numbers, ad impressions and the number and quality of reviews how it was doing.

Real data on app usage allows you to make design decisions based on what people are actually doing rather than what a few loud people say they want.

Doing a bit of digging yesterday I found out that there is a Google Analytics SDK for iPhone apps.  It allows you to track exactly what users are doing when they’re in your app and then you can easily comb through the data in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics gives you tons of ways to slice and dice the information.  But there’s a catch.

Analytics is designed for websites. Within a native application some of the concepts need to be twisted a bit to make sense, others won’t work.  It’s also a bit different in that you have to manually trigger all events in the code it’s not as simple as adding a bit of javascript to a WordPress theme.

However, it only takes an hour or so to get everything set up in your app to use Google Analytics.  The insight it gives into how people are using your apps and what they do with them could easily be worth 10x the effort.

Update: After playing with a bunch of different analytics options,  Google Analytics seems like the worst of the options (the library takes up a massive 1MB in your app, and it is kind of awkward to code)  I have opted to switch over to using Localytics