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11/3/2011
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How Fast Is Your Mobile App? Gomez Knows

Compuware's Gomez links to Google Mobile Page Speed service to measure mobile application performance for 5,000 different devices.

10 Top iOS 5 Apps
10 Top iOS 5 Apps
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
A recent Morgan Stanley research note says mobile application users on the Internet will outnumber desktop users by 2014, but most mobile application suppliers don't know how well their applications perform, beyond their own attempted downloads of them.

A new service from cloud monitoring system Gomez, a Compuware online service, now offers more insight into mobile app performance. The service is integrated with Google's Mobile Page Speed service, which provides metrics on how fast an online application's pages load. Such metrics could be important as users come to depend more and more on their mobile devices. One recently released iPhone application can send a patient's vital signs to their online electronic health records.

So mobile app performance data may become a crucial competitive factor for service providers. When a mobile application seeks data or a service, the roundtrip time involved tends to be longer than in desktop interactions, due to the wireless networks involved. Making that phenomenon worse, with application pages that are slow to load or application logic that is slow to execute, could result in leaving the door open to a competitor.

Google has put out guidance to developers on how to make pages load more quickly, whether from the mobile device itself or from Web servers. For example, JavaScript is often used in mobile apps because it runs in all browser windows. It produces the interactive elements on a mobile application's pages.

[Want to learn more about mobile apps that can save your bacon? See 10 Epic Android Apps.]

JavaScript is an interpreted language. It needs to run through an interpreter or parser designed for the device on which it's running. Parsing is a time-consuming process of converting application logic from byte code into runtime code. By directing that a page's JavaScript to be loaded without parsing, until that page element is needed, developers can speed their applications' operations.

For example, parsing 100 KB of JavaScript takes about 100 milliseconds, or 0.1 of a second. If 300 KBs or 500 KBs of JavaScript parsing can be delayed until later in the user's interactions, then 0.3 to 0.5 seconds can be saved each time the page loads, regardless of whether it is coming down from a server or being loaded out of cache on mobile device. These savings add up in terms of performance.

Compuware has built a performance monitoring network that can test response times of mobile applications for 5,000 mobile devices. The Mobile Synthetic Monitoring Network launches user-simulating pings to various websites and online applications to see how quickly they respond. It uses 29 locations around the world to conduct the performance monitoring, according to Compuware's announcement Tuesday on its fall improvements to the Gomez monitoring system.

Compuware's integration of Gomez mobile performance monitoring with Google's Mobile Page Speed gives application owners a view into how their application is performing over the Web and makes recommendations on how it might be speeded up. The JavaScript parsing issue is one of the trouble spots for which it watches.

Speedy responses to end users tend to encourage mobile users to move from being e-commerce browsers into buyers. The Gomez Mobile Real-User Monitoring Conversion Analytics will show how a given application's performance may be related to its conversion rate.

Another factor that affects mobile applications is the rate at which the end-user device can accept streamed content. The Gomez mobile application monitoring can measure the rate at which an application streams content to particular devices, a service that requires support for adaptive streaming since different devices can accept a stream of content at different bit rates.

The service measures the number of times the bit rate changes, the time spent receiving at each bit rate, and the percentage of time at each rate. The service can provide measures on Adobe Flash Dynamic Streaming and Microsoft Smooth Silverlight Smooth Streaming as well, according to the announcement.

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