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Developer Spotlight: Applause - Enabling App Developers to Take Action on App Reviews

Jul 16, 2013

Mobile apps have changed the way users consume content, conduct commerce, and connect with your company – and with each other. But how do you effectively measure your user satisfaction and app quality?

How does your iOS app compare with your Android app or your Windows Phone app? Is your current version getting better reviews than previous versions? How do you stack up against the competition?

We asked the team at Applause about the analytics product they've developed for apps - a product that allows the app developer to get actionable intelligence from end-user reviews and use it to improve app quality and user satisfaction.

Can you tell us a bit about you and about your vision as a company?

We're Applause (https://www.applause.com/)!  Applause is an analytics product for apps - specifically for making review data from end users (consumers) actionable. It is a product of UTest, a company that provides in-the-wild testing services for companies. Applause takes real-world review data from the app stores after launch, and pinpoints the apps biggest strengths and weaknesses easily and clearly according to real customers.  Our vision is really to help the world build better software using data.  We believe in the power of numbers and envision a world where software is seamless, usable, highly functional, and elegant.  

Applause targets developers, business owners, and brand owners.  As a developer, it's challenging to wade through all of the review data that can flood in after a big release.  We are targeting making the data actionable for the developer so that they can build the highest quality apps every time.  As a business and/or brand owner, it's typical that your mobile app is tied to revenue and bottom line goals.  It's important to stay on top of the pulse of your consumers and respond quickly to their continuous stream of feedback.  Applause helps cut straight to the heart of what each of our clients really want - targeted actionable feedback.

What does your app do? Who is it for and why is it unique?

Applause breaks down and reports the quality of an app into one, easy to understand number ranging from 0-100.  Obviously 0 is low, 100 is high, and anywhere in between is dependent on the quality of your app according to end-users.  If you dig a little deeper, you can see an easy-to-read scale of how your app is performing on 10 different attributes across a variety of different areas of importance: content, elegance, interoperability, performance, pricing, privacy, satisfaction, security, stability, and usability.  

The beauty and power of Applause is in the data.  You can easily see where you should be investing your efforts across different versions of your app.  You can quickly compare your app with some of your biggest competitors to stay ahead of the game.  You can dive into the review stream and search for and pivot on key phrases or other signals easily and quickly.  

We try really hard not to mislead you, so a good deal of effort has gone into ensuring that when we assign an importance or score to something, we mean it.  For example, if you've gotten a bunch of reviews since you released your app, but no one is talking about security, we won't score it.  If the reviews you've received aren't clustering nicely or there aren't very many yet, we won't score it.  We're unique because we are really trying to provide actionable data for the developer so that they can build better apps, not send them down a rabbit hole in a sea of data.   

What were some of the development challenges you typically face?

We have to stay on top of one of the fastest growing technical challenges today - the App Economy.  Every day not only are developers growing their abilities to scale out their development practices, but end-users expectations are reset with amazing new clean designs and integrated functionality entering the scene.  

We have to be able to

  • discover new content in the app stores,
  • respond to customer review sentiment shifts, and
  • serve actionable data seamlessly in a "never fail" pipeline.  

Our customers expect not only the basics of a stable platform, but also a product that is timely and accurate.  These are our biggest challenges, but challenges that we take on willingly and with a great deal of passion.   

How do you use Apigee?

We came across Apigee after our v1 launch of Applause in January 2013.  We were getting a lot of excitement and questions about the data and scoring algorithms used in the backend.  Given that we want to help empower our customers through data, we realized the best approach was to give them access to it!  After trials with a few products, it was easy to settle on Apigee.  It is easy to use, quick to set up, and offered a myriad of services that would help us build a robust, stable platform for Applause.  

While we're still in our early stages with Apigee (http://my.applause.com/applause/api2), we're excited about working together.  We both share a passion for helping make the development lifecycle easier and more seamless, so it's a great fit.  

What's next for Applause?

Truthfully, what's not next!  We've got plans to help our end users do review management so that they can organize their reviews based on whatever criteria they want.  We'll give them tagging, better searching, and overall better organization of their aggregated review data.  Clustering of key issues and searching the review data in a more actionable way are in there as well.  In addition, we're working on some cool stuff where you can validate your reviews and use Applause to manage what actions you'll take next with your app.  In addition, we want to beef up our API based on some early adopter feedback to allow users to use Applause data in their own products.  

Lying in wait is a bunch of analytics work we're doing to show off the power of Applause data.  We're hoping this work, coupled with some easy competitive analysis will allow users to see where they stand next to their competitors. This will prove to be the future of Applause since it's likely to be the one place where app developers can see data aggregated across multiple app stores and categories and proven to be actionable for their products.


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