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Monitoring & Improving App Performance: Android Vitals Written by Fuad Kamal

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Understanding Android Vitals

The Vitals section of the Play Console contains a tremendous amount of information about the health of your app in the wild. While helpful, all that information might seem overwhelming at first. You might be tempted to put off examining this area or ignore it completely. But even if you ignore Vitals, Google doesn’t - and your app’s performance as reported by Vitals directly impacts how easy it is to search for and discover your app or game on the Play Store.

Vitals reports information like Application Not Responding (ANR), performance benchmarks, battery usage, stability and much more. It collects data from real devices used by your users. As such, you get metrics that you might not otherwise get from internal testing and CI/CD workflows. However, this means the data and the availability of information appearing in Vitals is also subject to certain external factors.

If your app is newly released or you don’t have many users, you may not see any data in Vitals. Also, users need to give permission on their devices for developers to collect data, or Vitals won’t get any data.

In addition to Vitals, you can also use the Pre Launch Report to get similar data from the Play Console’s analysis of your app running on test devices in Firebase Test Lab rather than from real-world devices and users.

However, once your data shows up in Vitals, it can be an excellent and powerful tool. For example, not only can you see how your app is performing, but you can directly see how your app performs compared to your peers and competitors.

Exploring the dashboard

On the Google Play Console, click the Dashboard navigation item on the left to see an overview of all the vital information about your app. Take note of the section on Android Vitals where you’ll see an overview of the most important metrics from Vitals:

Play Console Dashboard
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Android vitals
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Bad behavior threshold
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Filters and Peer Groups
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Peer groups

Peer groups are a unique and powerful Android vitals feature. Here you can compare your app’s performance across key metrics with your peer and competitor apps.

Peer Categories
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Manage Notifications
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Email Notifications for Android vitals
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Crash analytics and reports

Suppose you had a crash rate above the bad behavior threshold. You might use Android vitals to answer questions like these:

Real time crashes
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Real time crash details
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Reviewing pre-launch reports

The Pre-launch report, or PLR, is a valuable companion to Android vitals. You’ll find it in the release management section of the Play Console. Navigate to Release -> Testing -> Pre-launch report. A typical PLR looks like the one shown in the image below:

PLR Overview
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Real time crash details
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Pre-launch report settings
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Using Android vitals to understand your app’s power consumption

Well-behaved apps optimize battery consumption by minimizing device radio and CPU usage. Android vitals lets you see the metrics for two common causes of battery drain: wakeups and wake locks.

Excessive Wakeups
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Understanding your app’s performance

The speed at which your app renders impacts user perception of your app performance. Slow render time or frozen frames lead to bad reviews. Apps that have a render time of 16 milliseconds or reach 60 frames per second produce a silky smooth experience for your users. This is the rate at which users can perceive smooth motion within your app.

Render Times
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PLR Performance Overview
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Performance details for Nokia handset
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Key points

Where to go from here?

Find out more about Android vitals key metrics and best practices at https://developer.android.com/distribute/best-practices/develop/android-vitals.html.

Have a technical question? Want to report a bug? You can ask questions and report bugs to the book authors in our official book forum here.

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