You’ve probably heard by now that Apple has finally released the long awaited app analytics tool they promised way back in June last year. Well, they have kind of launched it. It’s in beta and open on a first-come first-served basis.

I’ve been given access to the tool and want to share it’s key features & benefits with you. And I know most of you probably can’t wait to get access if you haven’t already, but is it worth getting excited about?

Keep reading for my honest opinion on the features and whether or not it was worth the wait.

What is App Analytics?

Ok, I was fairly excited when Apple announced App Analytics back at WWDC 2014. It’s been a long wait since then, but I’m finally able to use the tool.

So what is all the fuss about? What is App Store Analytics?

It’s the promise of more data about our app and it’s App Store metrics. Until this point, Apple has shared very little with it’s developers. We could see the number of downloads + IAP sales and that was pretty much it.

App Analytics promised to change all that by opening up a new world of data.

Information about how many people viewed our App Store Page and how many of them actually downloaded the app, how often users were returning, how many people uninstalled the app, how many watched our preview videos, were just the beginning of what I hoped Apple would deliver us.

What did we get?

I’m going to show you around App Analytics using an app I released about a week ago as an example.

First of all, there are a couple of important caveats that come with App Analytics.

apple app analytics details

What this means is you will not see data other than the basics if a user is on iOS 7 or below.

And you can only see data from users who opted in. As you can see from the example, only 24% of users of this app actually opted in. So I’m missing out on data from 76% of my total users base.

We do get to see data about the number of App Store views, total downloads and sales from all users, regardless of whether or not they opted in. But this data is still only shown for people using iOS 8.

This is confusing. The number of app units (downloads) shown on the App Analytics page is lower than the number I see on the Sales and Trends page. That’s because Sales and Trends includes all iOS versions.

I can understand the reasoning behind this being to allow a fair comparison of app store views to app units, because app store views are iOS 8 only. But it still seems messy.

 

Here is a screenshot of the main dashboard for App Analytics.

Apple App Analytics Dashboard
As you can see, across the top it tells us how many times people looked at your app in the app store (‘App Store Views’), how many times it was downloaded and total sales. But only people using iOS 8 are counted here. People on iOS 7 or below are not included in these figures.

It also provides the number of sessions, but only where users opted in to share data.

Below that we get a daily breakdown of the data, and we can also see another metric – ‘Active Devices’. This is showing data for individual devices with at least one session during the selected period.

Down the very bottom we can see some basic retention figures, as well as a view of different metrics by platform. This lets you see data based on whether the user was on an iPad, iPhone or iPod. It’s quite convenient to be able to quickly see a platform breakdown of things like downloads, App Store views, Sales etc.

 

Platform Data 1 - App Analytics

 

Platform Data 1 - App Analytics

 

Over on the Metrics tab we can filter each of the core metrics using up to 2 different filters.

We can also compare 2 different metrics. In the example below I’m comparing app units (downloads) to App Store views. This should help me understand how many people are actually downloading the app after they look at it’s App Store page.

Mobile App Metrics

 

I find this chart confusing. On May 2 it looks like there were more downloads (blue line) than there were App Store views (green line).

This shouldn’t be possible, so I looked a little bit harder and noticed that the number of downloads was 131 compared to 140 App Store views.

So why does the chart seem to tell us otherwise? Take a look at the y-axis values on the left. They are for the number of downloads. Now take a look at the y-axis values on the right, they are different and are for the number of views.

Maybe it’s just me, but that’s pretty damn confusing.
Next up is the Sources tab.

Mobile App INstall Sources
This one seems quite interesting. It allows us to generate a special link that we can use in promotional/advertising campaigns. App Analytics will then let us track information based on which campaign the user was acquired through.

I haven’t had time to use this feature yet, but I can see how it will be useful.

Here’s an example:

You could set up a Twitter campaign using a campaign link. That will allow you to see how many people clicked on your Tweets and went to the App Store, how many of them downloaded, and how many made IAP’s.

You could also be running an interstitial advertising campaign at the same time, using a different campaign link.

This would allow you to compare the metrics from the 2 different campaigns against each other and see which one directly resulted in more IAP’s and revenue.

 

The last tab is the Retention tab

Here we can see how many users returned to our app after x days.

app retention

Retention is one of the most important metrics for an app developer, so the possibility of every developer having easy access to it seemed great.

The only downside is the retention figures only contain data for uses who have opted-in to share. In my case, that means only 24% of my total user base. For this reason I’ll be sticking with third-party analytics tools for my retention data.

What didn’t we get?

Here’s what else I would have liked to have seen in App Analytics:

Uninstall data – The number of uninstalls on a daily basis.

Preview Video / Screenshot Views – It would be great to see how often people actually watch a preview video or click on our screenshots before downloading.

More detailed review data – More detailed data like average rating over a selected period, number of reviews over a period, and also the ability to filter reviews based on rating would be a great addition.

More detailed session data – Number of sessions doesn’t tell us too much. Session length and details about the time of day in which the session occurred would be really useful.

 

Conclusion

I told you I’d give you my honest opinion because that’s what I always do, so here it is.

Apple announced this tool almost a year ago. And they had some screenshots etc. to show us at WWDC, which indicates that they had already started work on the tool.

Then they went silent. There was no communication with developers, no assurances that the tool was still coming but there were some difficulties that need to be overcome first. Nothing.

Fast forward almost 12 months and all of a sudden it’s open for beta access. After using it for a while, I find the features to be really underwhelming and the delivery is half-baked.

It feels like a rushed attempt at delivering anything at all to avoid awkward questions at this year’s WWDC about where it is. Not very Apple-like at all. Surely the world’s most valuable company could deliver something better within a 10-12 month time frame.

The only feature that I can see being of any real use to the average app developer is the ability to see how many people visited your App Store page compared to the number of installs.

The rest of it can be accessed via third party analytics tools that app developers are already using anyway. And the third-party tools do a better job because their data is complete, unlike Apple’s which is limited to user opt-ins.

If you’re waiting for the tool with baited breath like I was, you can stop and chill out. I’m disappointed to say you’re really not missing much at all.

Have you used App Analytics yet? Do you have a different view? Let me know what you think in the comments below.