Why You Should Care about Your Android App's Performance

Android is dominating the global and national mobile app market. As a result, developers are pumping out new apps every day. As early as 2011, over 500 new Android apps were being released daily. By April 2015, the number of Android apps had reached over 1.4 million, and apps on the Google Play store surpassed a staggering 125 billion downloads. Not surprisingly, the market has only continued to grow since.

However, many of these apps have significant delay times that ruin a potentially amazing user experience. In one study commissioned by CompuWare, of the 56% of respondents who had experienced a mobile app problem in the past 6 months, a staggering 47% reported that apps were too slow to launch, while over 60% stated that their apps had crashed, frozen, or displayed errors they should not have. While this study considers mobile apps in general, performance problems tend to occur more in Android than iOS because of the low-end Android devices in the market and the use of Java as the main app programming language.

Unfortunately, users have no patience for sluggish apps: AppDynamics reports that 86% of users have uninstalled apps after only using them once due to their sluggish performance, and a test by JWPlayer suggests that 70% of your audience will leave within 11 seconds of waiting for content (in this case, a video within an app) to load. It is clear (and obvious) that slow apps make users unhappy. Here’s an example of a user’s review of the ABC News app:

News app negative review
Reviews like this, abundant on the Google Play store, discourage users from downloading your app.

User discontent often goes way beyond app deletion: a poor user experience leads users to leave negative reviews on Google Play and discourages consumers from downloading other apps from a given developer. In fact, 84% of users find app store ratings important when considering whether or not to download an app.

In the web domain, developers have long known that performance is crucial for success (e.g., Amazon saw that an extra 100ms of latency could cost up to 1% of sales). Mobile developers have started to realize this only recently, but industry giants are quickly catching on, devoting more time and resources to optimizing their mobile apps. They know it’s crucial to their success - that’s why Instagram developers spent a year profiling and optimizing their Android app. We analyzed four popular apps, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo News Digest, and WeChat, and found extensive performance monitoring code in all of them. The message is universal: speed matters.

The take-home message is that your app’s performance is absolutely important. Fluid apps are essential to success in the mobile domain. Apps that perform well engage and delight users, bring in positive reviews (and with them, more customers), strengthen your brand, stand out in the competition, and hopefully bring a little more money home :).