Speed up your mobile app with network performance SDKs
When it comes to ‘sticky’ and regularly used mobile applications, performance plays a big factor, especially when it comes to downloading content over a cellular network. The good news is that mobile network performance is a well understood beast, and there are known techniques and practices that can help improve your app’s behavior, performance, and security. The bad news is that some of these techniques are difficult to implement, and can cause conflicts with one another (security improvements may slow performance or performance gains might accidentally loosen security). Either way, deploying these techniques takes time away from your developers already busy implementing new features in your app.
There are a variety of SDKs available for mobile apps: Some help you measure your app’s usage, serve ads, provide localization data, and more. Did you know that there are also SDKs that can help with all of your network performance needs? These SDKs handle the network transport layer of your app and perform many of the suggested best practices, thereby speeding up your app and allowing your developers to focus on other projects and features. A few examples of these SDKs include Akamai Ion, Neumob and Caffeine.
How do these network performance SDKs remove the heavy lifting of network performance? Let’s look at some well-known performance and security best practices that network performance SDKs resolve out of the box.
App Performance Essentials: Compression
Those who are familiar with web performance tricks already know that compressing text and resizing images are effective optimizations. By reducing file size (in KB), files download faster, which in turn speeds up the performance of your app. Yes, that 4MB image you use for a thumbnail is slowing down your app, which is literally costing you money.
Tools like AT&T’s Video Optimizer can help you identify performance issues, but any optimizations still require development or operations work. Here are a few things to evaluate:
- Is Gzip working on all of your servers?
- How do you handle image compression (Do you alter the formats? The quantization? The quality?)?
- How do you handle text minification and compression?
- Are the images properly sized for the device?
Network performance SDKs can help you fix these issues, meaning fast flight over the mobile network to your customers.
Content Distribution Networks
On the Internet, traffic travels at the speed of light, but even the speed of light can add 50-100ms per round trip if your customers are not close to the location of your server. Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) are a distributed network of servers located strategically around the world that host your content to help ensure that the last mile your files travel to customers is as fast as possible, reducing the round trip latency for each packet. Many of the network performance SDKs implement CDNs as part of the package, distributing your content to the edge of the Internet for fast delivery.
Security is also a major concern for application developers and consumers. As an app developer, all the traffic between your app and the servers must employ security features to help protect the private data of customers as well as your company’s proprietary data. Security of network transmission is also a major feature of network performance SDKs.
Not every team has the development cycles to test for and implement network performance best practices, or to configure and manage content on CDNs. Even teams with a performance development budget will find that their app still may be running sub-optimally at times. By abstracting all of the network connectivity to an SDK built by experts in network performance, you can be better assured that your app’s network performance is running at peak levels, while focusing your development cycles on new products and features.
Network performance of mobile apps requires constant monitoring and development work, as every new feature or release has the potential to create performance bottlenecks. Utilizing a network performance SDK helps alleviate the burden of proper networking performance by abstracting it all to code built by network performance experts.
The marketing materials for these SDKs (like many app SDKs) promise fast integrations (“just 2 lines of code . . . 15 minutes to integrate”) and to resolve many performance bottlenecks that currently exist in the files you deliver to your application, simply by utilizing the SDK. These SDKs take requested data from your servers, and store them on a CDN network. The files are optimized for mobile (minification, image compression), and even resized for the device requesting the files (no more retina images being sent to low-end Android handsets). Some of these SDKs even offer optimization of third party calls (the advertisements, analytics, and even the other SDKs in your app) that are typically out of a developer’s control in terms of performance tweaking. To top it all off, the transport over this last mile is handled with robust, highly secure connections to help prevent any accidental data leakage on an insecure Wi-Fi network.
These SDKs can provide delivery improvements of up to 50-300 percent faster network transfers by handling all of the networking best practices and connectivity. Since most organizations do not have a dedicated development team to work on performance, use of network performance SDKs are a great solution to help your application get to market quickly and to have all the networking performance tuned perfectly.
If you are interested in the network performance of your mobile app and the security of the files you transmit, consider the mobile performance SDKs that are available today. Work with them to see if integrating these SDKs into your mobile applications could help protect your customers’ data, save your developers’ time, and make everything run fast and smoothly.