February 07, 2014, 8:00 AM — Google Analytics is a staple of the web world. It offers a simple attractive interface which is both approachable and incredibly deep. Relatively recently it started offering real-time traffic analytics for the web. Even more recently it started offering all of this for mobile. All for free.
If you’re already using Google Analytics, getting setup for mobile is a quick and easy process. You simply need to create a new Property in your analytics admin section and choose the type ‘App’ instead of ‘Web’. Once you enter in your app name and choose a category for your app, you’ll be given a new tracking ID that is in the familiar UA-XXXX-Y format.
Now that you have the tracking ID for your app, you can download the Analytics Mobile SDK for iOS or Android. Once included in your project, it’s just a matter of some simple configuration and then you can start triggering tracking events throughout your application. Pro tip: if you use a common base class for your view controllers or activities, you can implement tracking across your entire application just by placing the measurement logic in the proper override method of the base class.
The mobile SDK goes far beyond just tracking how many users are on your app, where they are located and what they are looking at. If you’re ready to get serious about gathering metrics around your mobile users, you can track everything they do with your app, right down to how long they spend on a particular feature, what buttons they click, if they perform social interactions, if they made an in-app purchase, and more. You can even build custom payloads to send to your analytics to track whatever else you might want.
What’s more, the SDK even assists with bug tracking. By default the SDK will capture any uncaught exceptions thrown by the application and report the event back to your analytics account. Thoughtful.
Using the short setup guide for iOS or Android, you can be up and running with complete mobile analytics in under 30 minutes if you know what you’re doing. You’ll gain valuable insight into how your app is being used in the wild, or even in beta. Not bad for $0 and a few minutes of setup.