Sunday, April 6, 2014

How Does Google Analytics Collects Data from Mobile Apps?

Google Analytics follows a different process for collecting data from mobile apps. This is because apps are built on a different platform and as such the technology used to collect data is different. For websites, GA uses JavaScript for tracking visitor data but for mobile apps, GA uses SDK or Software Development Kit. There are different SDK's for different operating systems including Android and IOS.

How SDK's Work to Collect Data?

SDK's collects the following data from any mobile app:

Screen Views
Operating System
Count of Sessions

The above data gets packaged as hits and send into a Google Analytics account.

When any user navigates through the app, the GA SDK stores the hits locally and sends them to GA account in a batch process called dispatching.

What is Dispatching and Why its Important?

Dispatching is the process carried by SDK to send HIT data in small batches into the GA account. Data is stored locally before it is dispatched in small batches into the GA account. 

Dispatching is necessary because:

1- Mobile devices tend to lose network connectivity and when that happens, the SDK can't send any hits to the analytics account. 

2- Sending data to Google Analytics in real time reduces the battery life of the device.

For this reason, the SDK's automatically dispatch the hits every 30 minutes for Android device and every 2 minutes for IOS.

How Does SDK Identifies Unique User?

When an App launches for the first time, the SDK generates a unique identifying code for the device. Each unique identifier is equivalent to a unique visit in GA. When the app gets updated to a new version, the UID remains the same, however if the app gets uninstalled and then reinstalled then a new UID is generated.

Hope, this tutorial helped you in understanding the process through which GA collects data from mobile apps.

Also See:

10 Avinash Kaushik Videos for Learning GA
Analytics Interview Questions and Answers
5 GA Metrics that You Aren't Sure What They Mean
100 FREE Resources for Learning Analytics
How to Set Up IP Address Filtering in GA
Content Grouping in Google Analytics
Custom Variables in GA
Difference Between Clicks and Visits
Understanding Goal Flow in Google Analytics
Google Tag Manager
Universal Analytics
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