updated icon July 5 2016

Apps are everywhere! They have become universal and absolutely necessary and so have the numerous SDKs that go into making them the success that they are. Yes, individual SDKs do that but at a cost that is not every developer wants to afford.

These kits allow them to create mobile apps and other functions within them without having to work from scratch. They are a critical part of the mobile app industry and with the ample codes and asset libraries that they have to offer, creating an entire new app is possible by writing few lines of code.

Therefore, integrating SDKs means quickly integrate features such as ad networks, push notifications, analytics, user acquisitions, retargeting solutions and mediation platforms, etc. All this adds functionality and features to their app thereby making them super-engaging and highly valuable for their user base.

But is that all good?

It’s so good actually that it is downright fatal at times. A large number of SDKs does mean more features but herein lays the tricky part as well. The catch is that there is no ONE particular SDK that would solve all developers’ dilemmas and some SDKs demand long integration times of days or even weeks.. We know now that SDK fatigue is real!

The larger the number of SDKs, the higher the number of integrations. That means more time taken to develop an app, extensive need for maintenance for developers and larger download sizes. According to a report released by SafeDK, games alone have the highest number of SDKs with 17.5 per app on average. Having all these integrations up and running smoothly saves time in the short run, but it is also a lot of work on a developer’s part. Moreover, the additional work to keep them updated and compatible, testing and checking them against every new version of an operating system becomes even more tiring and forms an unavoidable part of the much dreaded SDK Fatigue.

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Source: SafeDK report

What are the main roles of SDKs?

SDKs are loaded with different kinds of features that make them ideal for distinct areas of actuation. Not to mention the common features between SDKs contribute a lot to the SDK Fatigue. We will come to that later because first we need to understand what key areas SDKs address. These are the major functions or types of SDKs that are usually employed on a winner mobile app that ensures high functionality and user engagement.

They Analyse

When you want to make a quick analysis of your website, who do you turn to, the very dependable analytic tools by the leading search engines. Similarly, your mobile apps also need to utilize a sound analytics SDK. This will help measure how and when the app is being used and also the bounce and conversion rate thereof. Phenomenally streamlined, top quality analytics SDKs are growing in importance for your mobile apps. Popular examples are Google Analytics, Flurry, Mixpanel, Amplitude and Localytics.

They Troubleshoot

You don’t want your app to crash. Ever! But even if does, there is a troubleshooting SDK to depend on. They are extremely useful during and post development phase to analyse why the crash(es) occurred and how many devices were affected by it. Instabug, Crashliytics, Crittercism and Bugsnag are some of the most preferred troubleshooting SDKs out there.

They Test For A/B

Now if you want to find out which version of your mobile app is better at engaging people and ultimately facilitating efficient user acquisition, you better employ an A/B testing SDK. It is just as important for your app as it is for the web. It makes your development or redesign process much simpler by identifying which pages, menus, buttons and call to actions are more appealing to your users. Apptimize, Optimizely and Taplytics are really popular SDKs among developers for this purpose.

They do Marketing In-App

Your customer is king! Every activity is centered around them and the end-goal is to keep them happy. With In-App Marketing SDKs you have just the right platform to maintain and improve your customer relations. They allow you to perform developer to player communication, making Q&As and in-app promotions a breeze and without the need for the user to leave the app. Now that’s top notch customer service! GetSocial provides tools such as Chat and Activity feeds, which are industry’s best practices when it comes to in-app marketing.

They Advertise

An app without an ad seems quite odd doesn’t it? You as a publisher can profit from in-app advertising. This feature is double-faceted as you can either monetize your app by devoting some space to advertisements or you can drive more downloads for your app by advertising for it elsewhere. Advertising SDKs make it possible for you to adopt either one or both of these to target specific users easily. Swrv, Push.io, Tune, Iterable, Flurry and the like are some SDKs that make advertising beyond the app possible.

They Socialise

Yes, they do that on your behalf and pretty cleverly. A social SDK is worth more than a thousand likes because they unleash communities hiding in your app. Besides the SDKs that cover the basics, the social SDKs give your app an edge. Their primary goal is to make your app stand above your rivals and keep your users delighted all the way. You can expand your user base phenomenally and monetise on the biggest users by linking a social platform to your app. Here is an example of a successfully in-game community, created using Getsocial’s SDK:

Damn! Tired Yet?

There is a plethora of SDKs available for developers, making the name SDK Fatigue very real. SDKs can break the app or game if there’s even the slightest possibility of incompatibility between them, or if the number of method counts exceeds the limit for an app… They can also slow down app development if integration takes weeks or even months and they require vigorous testing. 

The vast numbers of SDKs that mobile app developers have to integrate into their apps are making third party service providers sweat out even more. It is becoming more and more difficult for them to get their service into those apps and/or games. Only the large players in the market have access to publishers and studios with deep pockets. They have the resources to integrate and test a large number of SDKs but what about those developers that don’t have such resources? They find integrating this number of SDKs rather straining on development. Moreover, finding and assessing the right SDK for an app becomes cumbersome for a developer when the options to choose from are limitless. Pinpointing the ones that would deliver on the promise is a demanding and time consuming task.

What about All-In-One-SDK?

You might come across some services that attempt to provide a unified interface which would allow developers to install a unified SDK into their apps that would eliminate the need for integrating numerous kits and save their time and resources. An all-in-one SDK could be the answer to facilitating a wide range of functions such as app testing, performance and security monitoring, security, analytics and user behaviour, promotion and monetization, etc.

All-in-one SDKs would mean a broader approach and lots of features and several functionalities under a single login and code base, relieving developers of the much dreaded SDK fatigue. Developers need to plan ahead which SDK integrations to include before development takes its course full on, avoiding unnecessary SDKs in an app. An all-in-one or unified SDK could greatly eliminate SDK fatigue by minimizing the number of SDKs you need to integrate in your app!

Over to you

Have you ever been in the same shoes, trying to find yourself a way to reduce your SDK overload? Feel free to express your views in the section below.