Supercharging Mobile Performance with MAP SDK

by George Zhukovsky
1998

This is one in a series of posts following up on our announcements from the Developer Zone at Edge 2017. For a complete review of Edge, see our recap page.

It’s no secret that mobile is exploding. Tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices are eating the world. And every business needs to be ready: According to the recent “Mobile Commerce Statistics and Trends” study[1], 27% of all US e-commerce sales will be done via mobile devices by the end of 2018, with smartphones alone accounting for more than $36 billion of those sales.

On top of that, people who shop online using their mobile devices tend to spend twice as much as those not buying on mobile devices. More importantly, 53% of mobile phone users will shop via company-specific mobile apps this year. Another recent study, “The App Attention Span”[2], revealed that 33% of customers would spend more money with an organization that has a good mobile app – while 8 out of 10 users have deleted mobile apps because of the performance issues. Yet, in the world where people expect rich content at their fingertips without having to wait, it’s increasingly hard to deliver a rapid, high-quality mobile experience.

Ironically, mobile app users are most loyal when technology works well, yet they are also among the least patient when it comes to waiting for their content. Almost half of them expect a mobile app to respond within two seconds[3] (that’s less time than you spent reading this sentence). And if things don’t go their way, most would only give it 1-2 more tries – ultimately, 40% of them would simply uninstall the app and never use it again. So as a business, what can one do to ensure this doesn’t happen?

The Akamai Mobile App Performance software development kit (MAP SDK), for both iOS and Android native apps, helps developers build the best possible mobile experience, even when connection speeds are slow or unavailable. On top of the existing optimization between the origin and Akamai edge servers, MAP SDK extends Akamai functionality all the way to the device. This allows mobile app developers to customize and deliver instant app experiences based on these five innovative network-awareness and last-mile optimization technologies in MAP SDK:

1. Universal Cache
This allows you to cache resources on the individual mobile device, within the app, and helps with re-using resources across different pages/sections of the app. With Universal Cache, developers can reduce the number of requests to the network, offload delivery costs, and improve performance for objects requested multiple times. One of the biggest online retailers in India saw a whopping 4x performance improvement after they started using Universal Cache:

2. Network Awareness
Mobile apps can now be adapted according to changes in network conditions. MAP SDK provides a hint regarding network quality, which enables app developers to tailor app experiences accordingly (e.g., reduce image size/quality, download objects ahead of time, and so on). In other words:

If network quality == LOW { DO lean-app()};
If network quality == HIGH { DO everything()};

3. SureRoute for Cellular
This identifies the fastest path through the mobile network to the Akamai edge servers. From the device, two different connection requests are sent, typically to separate edge regions – the closest and the fastest server for the request is ultimately selected and used during stickiness interval. This feature alone has proven to deliver a ~20% performance improvement over cellular networks.

4. Contextual Pre-Positioning
This enables instant app views and seamless browsing experiences, even in slow networks or offline situations. This is done by positioning the content on the user’s mobile device even before he/she asks for it.

5. Mobile User Analytics
These provide app insights into changing network and device conditions. Here are a couple of sample analytics screenshots:

MAP SDK in the real world

So how is MAP SDK helping real customers today? Here’s one example: After MAP SDK integration, more than 50% of Sears app users could view the home screen in two seconds or less, compared to only 7% prior to using MAP SDK.

Another major online fashion retailer saw an immediate 30% improvement in throughput after integrating MAP SDK, which significantly enhanced image and API content download times. A financial services provider has measured a 30+% reduction in latency for their popular app.

As mobile device usage has skyrocketed in recent years, mobile apps have emerged as the key engagement channel for businesses to connect with their most valuable customers. Mobile app usage represents more than 85% of total mobile device time, and users now spend more time with apps than they do with television. All this makes Akamai MAP SDK a natural solution for any company that wants to provide superior mobile app performance for its customers.

Questions? We’re here to answer them at mapsdk@akamai.com.

See our MAP SDK Getting Started Guide for more details.

Learn more by watching the Improving Mobile Performance – Simple Tips and Tricks video, recorded in the Developer Zone at Edge 2017.

George Zhukovsky is a senior product manager for mobile at Akamai Technologies.


[1] Mobile Commerce Statistics and Trends
[2] The App Attention Span Research Report
[3] “Failing to Meet Mobile App User Expectations” Survey

Categories: Edge '17 Highlights, Mobile, SDK, Web Performance

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