Speed up Your Mobile App with Network SDKs

Learn how network performance software development kits improve the speed and security of your app and help you make the most of your mobile presence.

 

When it comes to ‘sticky’ and regularly used mobile applications, performance plays a big factor, especially when it comes to downloading content over a cellular network. The good news is that mobile network performance is a well understood beast, and there are known techniques and practices to improve your app’s behavior, performance and security. The bad news is that some of these techniques are difficult to implement, and can cause conflicts with one another (security improvements may slow performance or performance gains might accidentally loosen security). Either way, this work takes time away from your developers implementing new features in your app.

There are a variety of SDKs available for mobile apps. Some help you measure your app’s usage, serve ads, provide localization data, and more. But, did you know that there are also SDKs that can help with all of your network performance needs? These SDKs take care of the network transport layer of your app and perform many of the suggested best practices for you, speeding up your app and allowing your developers to focus on other projects and features. A few examples of these SDKs include Akamai Ion, Neumob and Caffeine.

How do these network performance SDKs remove the heavy lifting of network performance? Let’s look at some well known performance and security best practices that network performance SDKs resolve out of the box.

App Performance Essentials: Compression

Those who are familiar with web performance tricks already know that compressing text and resizing images are effective optimizations. By reducing file size (in KB), files download faster, which in turn speeds up your app. Yes, that 4MB image you use for a thumbnail is slowing down your app, which is literally costing you money.

Tools like AT&T’s Video Optimizer help you identify performance issues, but any optimizations still require development or operations work. Is Gzip working on all of your servers? How do you handle image compression? (Do you alter the formats? The quantization? The quality?) How do you handle text minification and compression? Are the images properly sized for the device? Network performance SDKs ‘fix’ these issues for you, ensuring fast flight over the mobile network to your customers.

Content Distribution Networks

On the Internet, traffic travels at the speed of light, but even the speed of light can add 50-100ms per round-trip if your customers are not close to the location of your server. Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) are a distributed network of servers located strategically around the world that host your content to ensure that the ‘last mile’ your files travel to customers is as fast as possible, reducing the round trip latency for each packet. Many of the network performance SDKs implement CDNs as part of the package, distributing your content to the edge of the internet for fast delivery.

 

Security

 

Security is also a major concern for application consumers and developers. As an app developer, all traffic between your app and the servers must securely protect customer private data as well as your company’s proprietary data. Secure network transmission is also a major feature of network performance SDKs.

Not every team has the development cycles to test for and implement network performance best practices, or to configure and manage content on CDNs. Even teams with a performance development budget will find that they still may be running sub-optimally at times. By abstracting all of the network connectivity to an SDK built by experts in network performance, you can rest assured that your app’s networking is running at peak levels, while focusing your development cycles on new products and features.

Implementation

 

Network performance of mobile apps requires constant monitoring and development work, as every new feature or release has the potential to create performance bottlenecks. Utilizing a network performance SDK helps alleviate the burden of proper networking performance by abstracting it all to code built by network performance experts.

The marketing materials for these SDKs (like many app SDKs) promise fast integrations (“just 2 lines of code . . . 15 minutes to integrate”) and to resolve many performance bottlenecks that currently exist in the files you deliver to your application, simply by utilizing the SDK.

These SDKs take requested data from your servers, and store them on a CDN network. The files are optimized for mobile (minification, image compression), and even resized for the device requesting the files (no more retina images to low end Android handsets). Some of these SDKs even offer optimization of third party calls (the advertisements, analytics and even the other SDKs in your app) that are typically out of a developer’s control in terms of performance tweaking. And to top it all off, the transport over this last mile is handled with robust secure connections to prevent any accidental data leakage on an insecure Wi-Fi network.

These SDKs promise delivery improvements of 50-300% faster network transfers by taking care of all of the networking best practices and connectivity. Since most organizations do not have a dedicated development team to work on performance, use of network performance SDKs are a great solution to help your application get to market quickly and with all the networking performance tuned perfectly.

Conclusion

If you are interested in speeding up the network performance of your mobile app and ensuring the security of the files you transmit, consider the mobile performance SDKs that are available today, and see if integrating them into your mobile applications could save your customers’ data, save your developers’ time, and make everything run fast and smoothly.

For the most up to date examples of performance studies, follow the #perfmatters hashtag on Twitter, or look through the videos from O’Reilly’s Velocity Conference on Safari.

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