Measuring Mobile Performance

Velocity 2013 Speaker Series: A Sneak Peek With WebPagetest and Appurify

Now that more companies have basic mobile strategies in place, they are turning their attention to the issue of performance.

Mobile developers are thinking about how fast their apps and mobile webpages load and—more importantly—what they can do to make them faster. Consumers have little patience for slow loading apps and their expectations are only going to get more stringent. This expectation likely contributed to Apple making changes so that apps on iOS 7 load 11% faster than on iOS 6.

The challenge is that measuring performance for mobile is not as easy as it is for web. Many of us have used tools like WebPagetest to assess website performance across different browsers/locations and pinpoint areas for improvement but fully functional, equivalent tools don’t exist yet for the mobile space.

This has left mobile developers ill equipped to create the highest-performing mobile apps and websites.

Creating a WebPagetest for Mobile

To bridge this gap, Appurify is working on an exciting new partnership with Patrick Meenan from Google and WebPagetest.org, along with Guy Podjarny from Akamai, to provide performance measurement for mobile websites. Appurify’s extensive API-accessible cloud of real iOS and Android devices, which runs on a wide variety of operating systems and networks, powers the back-end of the testing tool.

Here’s a sneak peek of what the integration looks like.

To start, just like using WebPagetest for websites, you’ll be able to enter the URL of a mobile site as shown below. The tool currently supports a wide range of iPhones with either Safari and Chrome browsers.

webpagetest-mobile

After you run the test, you will see a detailed breakdown of the data collected. Here’s an example with walmart.com on an iPhone 5 with Chrome:

webpagetest-mobile2

On the Details page, you can view load time details broken down into a Waterfall View:

webpagetest-mobile3

Further down the same page, you will also see what’s called the Connection View. This highlights the http connection process for the website and breaks it down into five parts—from the initial DNS lookup through the final step where all data is downloaded:

webpagetest-mobile4
webpagetest-mobile5

Similarly, here’s a detailed breakdown for facebook.com. Once again, this was tested on a real device:

webpagetest-mobile6

With this integration, mobile developers will now have a free tool to find performance bottlenecks and fix them—not to mention have an easy way to benchmark themselves against others.

We’ll be making this available for public use very soon. If you’d like to try it out, email us and we’ll notify you as soon as it’s live.

Automating Tests on Real Devices

It’s worth noting that the integration with WebPagetest only works for mobile sites (not apps). For those of you with other mobile projects and looking for deeper testing and tools, in late September we launched the public beta of Appurify’s platform, which provides automated testing and performance optimization on real devices and in real user conditions.

With each test run, Appurify provides actionable outputs including CPU and memory data, symbolicated crash reports, a video of the run and network details. Appurify also captures HTTPS (SSL) traffic and represents the data in a traditional HAR format.

For example, the traffic for the LinkedIn app login process is shown below. We’ll be adding this capability to the Webpagetest tool soon as well.

webpagetest-mobile7

Appurify has also created a free SDK that allows developers to use Safari and Chrome developer tools to inspect and debug mobile websites and apps locally in their browsers. Here’s a video showing Appurify runtime debugging using Safari developer tools:

Eager to learn more? At Velocity NY next week, in addition to our presentation about how to create high-performing applications with Appurify, Guy Podjarny will demo the new WebPagetest integration on Wednesday, Oct. 16. (Also, thanks to Jay Srinivasan and Amy Ziari at Appurify for their contributions to this article.)

This is one of a series of posts related to the upcoming Velocity conference in New York City (Oct 14-16). We hope to see you there.

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