The Top 10 Third-Party Mobile SDKs for iOS

August 23, 2017 Sun Sneed

Developingmobileapplicationfornewstartup

Third-party mobile SDKs are the utility belt of mobile developers, allowing them to extend the functionality of their apps with minimal effort.

But while implementing a third-party SDK might take a matter of minutes for the seasoned mobile developer, deciding which mobile SDKs to implement is not an act of arbitrary selection. A developer trying to keep code lean should carefully consider how an additional mobile library could affect app performance, asking questions like:

  • What vendors do we currently use that offer a mobile SDK?
  • What sort of impact will third-party mobile SDKs have on app complexity?
  • What sort of resources are required for this app to function properly?

Take a look at the top 10 third-party mobile SDKs in use on iOS (3 analytics SDKs, 3 advertising SDKs, and 4 other), with descriptions and requirements for both Android and iOS.

Note: Thanks to Kevin Leong and the AppSight team for providing the statistics here. All statistics refer to the top third-party mobile SDKs for iOS apps. 


Analytics SDKs


Google Firebase  | Framework/Analytics SDK | 45% of top apps

Description

The Firebase Framework SDK provides an entire suite of technologies to help app developers succeed in every aspect of mobile app development, quality assurance, analysis and marketing. Google Analytics for Firebase (not to be confused with Google Analytics) is the most adopted platform for measuring behavior in mobile apps. Google Analytics for Firebase immediately begins capturing data once the Firebase SDK is installed.

Requirements

For Android:

  • A device running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or newer, and Google Play services 11.0.4 or higher
  • The Google Play services SDK from the Google Repository, available in the Android SDK Manager
  • The latest version of Android Studio, version 1.5 or higher

For iOS:

  • Xcode
    • 7.0 or later for Objective-C
    • 7.3 or later for Swift
  • An Xcode project targeting iOS 7 or above
  • The bundle identifier of your app
  • CocoaPods 1.0.0 or later
  • For Cloud Messaging:
    • A physical iOS device
    • An Apple Push Notification Authentication Key for your Apple Developer account
    • In Xcode, enable Push Notifications in App > Capabilities

Google Analytics  | Analytics SDK | 25% of top apps

Description

The Google Analytics SDK enables use of the freemium analytics tool many people are familiar with. As with other mobile app analytics platforms, Google Analytics tracks user behavior across app screens.

Requirements

Google recommends the use of Google Analytics for Firebase for mobile devices. They still do, however, support the Google Analytics SDK for both Android and iOS.

Android: Latest version of Android Studio and Google Play Services

iOS: Xcode 7.3


Flurry  | Analytics SDK | 20% of top apps

Description

Flurry Analytics is a popular mobile app analytics platform, especially among the iOS developer community. A free platform that allows you to connect multiple apps to the same account, Flurry makes it easy to track the performance of all apps you own.

Requirements

Android: API level 10+

iOS: Xcode 8 and iOS 8 and higher


Bonus Analytics SDKs


Answers  | Analytics SDK | 15% of top apps

Description

Answers is a mobile-only analytics platform, part of the suite of Fabric’s marketing technologies. Because Answers is only for mobile, they highlight the most relevant metrics for app developers and stakeholders, offering analytics that “you don’t need to analyze.” Some of the metrics included in their primary dashboard include:

  • Retention (daily active users)
  • Growth (daily new users)
  • Stability (crash-free users)
  • Release adoption
  • And more

Requirements

iOS: iOS 7.0, Xcode 7.0


Mixpanel  | Analytics SDK | 2.9% of top apps

Description

Mixpanel’s product analytics platform, known as Insights, provides rapid access to data insights through an intuitive interface to help non-SQL aficionados query their data. Mixpanel also makes it easy to aggregate data from across platforms for more in-depth analysis.

Requirements

See documentation.


Localytics  | Analytics SDK | 1.7% of top apps

Description

Localytics is a robust  analytics platform with advanced mobile tracking capability. This mobile app analytics platform provides powerful reporting tools, offering insights into:

  • Session and usage analytics
  • Event tracking and attribution
  • Custom dashboards
  • Access to raw data for further data analysis

Requirements

See documentation.


Adobe Marketing Cloud for iOS  | Analytics/Digital Marketing SDK

Description

The Adobe Marketing Cloud is a suite of highly customizable digital marketing and analytics solutions. Adobe Analytics gives you access to advanced segmentation to help you break down your customer base for granular cohort analysis, while also being able to pass that data to other Adobe solutions.

Requirements

iOS 5+


Advertising SDKs


AdMob by Google  | Advertising SDK | 41% of top apps

Description

The AdMob SDK is the most adopted form of mobile app monetization through advertising, with over 1 million apps using AdMob. AdMob gives you access to Google’s vast advertising network. They offer a variety of advertising formats, including the classic banner, interstitials, rewarded videos and native ads. They also include ad templates, as well as a Smart Banner that responds to the size of the device screen.

Requirements

Android:

  • Use Android Studio 1.0 or higher
  • Target Android API level 14 or higher
  • Recommended: create an AdMob account and register an app.

iOS:

  • Use Xcode 7.0 or higher
  • Target iOS 6.0 or higher
  • Recommended: create an AdMob account and register an app.

Chartboost  | Advertising SDK | 20% of top apps

Description

Chartboost is an advertising platform specifically designed to market and monetize apps in the mobile gaming industry. They provide a variety of ad formats with rich content, with one of their most recent innovations being playable ads for interstitials advertising games. They also allow ad filtering, giving app owners control to decide what and how often ads are displayed in their games.

Requirements

Android: API level 9+

iOS:

  • iOS version 6.0 or higher
  • iPhone 3GS or later
  • iPod 3rd generation or later
  • iPad 2nd generation or later
  • Xcode 8+

AppLovin  | Advertising SDK | 14% of top apps

Description

AppLovin is a lightweight mobile SDK that provides advertising functionality both inside an app and outside. This platform is for developers and advertisers alike, allowing developers to monetize their app, and helping advertisers to attract relevant audiences to their app. AppLovin provides functionality for a variety of ad formats, including:

  • Interstitials
  • Video ads
  • Playable ads
  • Rewarded video
  • Native ads

Requirements

Not provided.


Other


AFNetworking  | Networking SDK | 23% of top apps

Description

AFNetworking is a networking library specifically for Apple products, including iOS, Mac OS X, watchOS and tvOS, and extends the high-level networking abstractions built into Cocoa. This SDK has an active development community who are continuously updating and improving the code.

Requirements

See documentation.


MBProgressHUD   | UI SDK | 23% of top apps

Description

The MBProgressHUD SDK allows mobile app developers to add progress displays to their mobile application, such as a spinning wheel, loading bar, or custom message.

Example of UI from one of the Top Third-Party Mobile SDKs

Requirements

  • Works on iOS 6+
  • Requires ARC to build
  • Apple frameworks:
    • Foundation.framework
    • UIKit.framework
    • CoreGraphics.framework
  • The latest version of Apple Developer Tools

Facebook Mobile SDK  | Social SDK | 22% of top apps

Description

The Facebook Mobile SDK gives access to some of Facebook’s key social media features, such as a social login option, deep-linking from social media content and social sharing from within your app. In addition to these, there is also a basic account kit to help build a login system that authenticates using email or phone number. It also allows access to Facebook’s social graph through the Graph API requests.

Requirements

Android: Requires Android API 15

iOS: Requires Xcode 8


Crashlytics  | Crash Reporting SDK | 19% of top apps

Description

Crashlytics is one of the top mobile crash reporting platforms available and is part of Fabric’s suite of mobile app technologies. While not having some of the heavier features included in other crash reporting systems, its lightweight design earned this SDK the role of #1 performance SDK on both iOS and Android.

Requirements

iOS: iOS 7.0, Xcode 7.0


Validating Your Third-Party Mobile SDKs

No matter the OS (Android or iOS), implementing third-party mobile SDKs such as the ones listed above can greatly extend the functionality of your app, providing additional insights into mobile app behavior and improving the overall user experience.

But while deploying new third-party mobile SDKs is a relatively simple procedure, continuously monitoring and testing mobile SDK performance is a challenge many app stakeholders face. Thousands of potential use cases under a variety of app conditions make manual testing a burden on resources and drastically slow down release cycles.

Adopting a mobile SDK testing platform like AppAssurance™ allows you to test SDK performance over time with a customized library of test use cases. With an easy step-by-step journey builder, you can build a library of app journeys that validate SDK data collection against predefined rules.

Validate your mobile SDKs with a free evaluation of your mobile application.

 

About the Author

Sun Sneed

Sun is currently the Senior Product Manager at ObservePoint. She is passionate about internet products and marketing. Sun conceptualizes and drives change in an impactful and sustainable way. Sun currently leads product innovation for AppAssurance, ObservePoint’s mobile app tag and data quality platform. In past roles, Sun has contributed to the product innovation of Deutsche Telekom, T-Online International AG, and Fast Multimedia AG.

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