10 Tips to Improve Mobile App Performance

3.5 billion people around the globe own a smartphone(Base on Techjury reports). We live in a reality where the global smartphone market contributes 77% of the top 10 vendors.

Mobile apps are what make a smartphone worth using. Convenience, simplicity, and variety are what drives the market forward. Companies who don’t have a mobile presence are falling behind, while their peers getting a momentum.

As clear as the world mobile future is, talking about it is one thing, understanding why mobile apps are so important is another. Out of the verity of subjects, there are only two questions worth asking here:​

  1. Why do companies focus on mobile app performance optimizations?
  2. How to improve mobile app performance?

My name is Ilya Gazman My goal is to educate and improve mobile development for building smarter solutions. Mobile app performance is the key ingredient in succeeding in this mission.

Why do companies focus on mobile app performance optimizations?

Mobile app performance optimization is important beyond imagination. People can feel the difference between half and one second of loading time. Sometimes it’s the difference between a person clicking on the home button or continue to interact with your app. As more companies become aware of mobile app performance’s importance, the speed of renovation and market standards keeps changing rapidly. Among app features, it is now common to see loading times and other performance metrics. If companies were highlighting app stability in the past, now it comes as given, and the focus is shifting to performance.

The 2020 expectation for the mobile app cold-start is under one second. There are cold and warm starts, cold-start is when the app is launched for the first time, and worm-start for consecutive launches. A worm-start is expected to happen within a half-second. It is also referred to as instantaneous-start.

Those standards are the fruits of the top industry companies that spend much effort on app optimizations. It makes it very hard to compete with them, and they can grow faster. Facebook placed 12 engineers to work solely on its iOS cold-start app optimizations(base on Natansh Verma post from 2015). Swiggy’s mobile apps stopped their entire business for three months, working on improving their cold-start app time. You can even find real estate companies making posts about their cold-start app time improvements.

The bottom line to all of this is user experience. By investing in Mobile app performance, you improve retention and engagement and ensuring your place in the race.

How to improve mobile app performance?

“In 2018, global mobile app revenues amounted to over 365 billion U.S. dollars. In 2023, mobile apps are projected to generate more than 935 billion U.S. dollars in revenues via paid downloads and in-app advertising,” based on Statista reports.

I am here to share some of the tips and strategies used by the giant companies to get ahead of the Mobile app performance race. By prioritizing mobile app performance, you are guarantee to win engagement and conversion.

Mobile app performance strategies

Below you will find a short list of bullet points about the key strategies in mobile performance optimizations. Those are the basic principles that will help you to build your app towered the market, quit high standards.

Device Performance

Network Performance​

Starlink is going to change the game with it’s planned global launch in 2021. It will help reduce the gapes we have today in the world internet connection, but you should not assume that it will solve all the problems. It is very beneficial today to invest in users with poor network connection, and it’s probably not going to change soon. However, Starlink defiantly makes us wonder.

10 Mobile App Performance Tips

  1. Content delivery network (CDN): CDN improves the delivery of the static files to your users. When choosing a CDN provider, it’s important to check that it covers the countries where your users are coming from. Also, since you will not be the one who will deliver those files to the users, it’s important to make sure that the CDN provider offers DDoS protection and a firewall. You don’t want to be knocked out by noobie hackers.
  2. Resource optimization: Use vector graphics where ever you can. In the past, there was a concern of CPU vs. Network performance regarding using vectors, but today the CPU costs are redundant in that aspect, and the benefit of the Network is totally worth it.
    Vector graphic includes not only images but also gifs and animations. For nonvector resources, use WebP. WebP is a modern image format that provides superior lossless, lossy compression compared to JPEG and PNG.
  3. Focus on the core features of your app: Sometimes it’s compelling to make a two-second preloader with your company logo or add a fancy animation for the screen entrance. While those UI features will make you love your app better, they will not help you grow. Performance is your most promising bet while investing in the future of your app.
  4. Work with templates: Build your design in a way that will allow you to easily reuse app resources across the different screens and popups of your app. It’s a triple performance win. You save on memory as you reuse the app’s live resources, you save on development as you reuse code, and your users will learn your app faster as they will become familiar with your templates.
  5. Lazy loading vs. prefetching:​ You may come up with an optimal solution in your office for efficient app loading. But it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be optimal for everyone. Prefetching could be slow if you are on a slow network or memory-expensive if you are currently running multiple apps. Make the loading desitions in run time, be aware of your working environment, and maybe even the user patterns. It will also be a good idea to ask for advice from your CDN provider if they offer this service.
  6. Offline mode: We have all been in a subway or an airplane at some point in our life. Actually, I am on a beach right now with no WiFi connection. Think I would use Google Docs if they would not support offline mode?​
  7. Batch calls: Reduce the number of calls to the back end. It is cheaper to aggregate calls together into one big server response instead of making multiple small calls, as you be paying with a round trip. This is especially true if you use one of those UDP frameworks like HP-Socket, which makes the batch size even cheaper.
  8. Work with testing tools: Many mobile testing tools can automate simple performance testing before you go to production. It will detect memory leaks, examine your network, and measure your startup times. Tools like TestComplete, Calabash(Android, iOS), and more.
  9. Application size: Application size will affect the install and the download time of your app. If it becomes too large, users may delete it to save space. It was a big concern in the past, but today with better storage and networking, app size matters less. Still, it is better to be on the lower end of the curve as it can only benefit you.
  10. Mobile performances expert: Get a mobile performance expert onboard, someone like me. Together we can examine your current mobile performance solutions and build a plan to take your app to the next level.

Bottom Line

Mobile app performance is crucial for user retention rate, ratings, number of downloads, conversions, and revenue. By committing to creating a high-quality app that meets 2020 mobile performance standards, you open the doors for fast growth and a global scale.