Have you noticed that your apps run slower in the summer months? Here’s the science behind this sluggishness.
Summertime means warmer weather, longer days, and…sluggish apps? Research has confirmed what many of us already suspected: our apps run more slowly in the summer months. Let’s explore this phenomenon further and find out why hotter days mean slower apps.
When app and web developers talk about the time it takes to load app features, they’re likely referring to latency. Essentially, latency is the amount of time it takes for a host server to receive and process data, and send new data back to the host device. Latency is incredibly important for app and web developers because it has a positive correlation with web abandonment, according to KissMetrics — meaning that the longer users have to wait for a page and/or app to load, the higher chance that they will abandon it.
So why do apps take longer to load in the summer months?
Latency in the summer has to do with the propagation of radio waves. Increases in water vapor during the summer cause attenuation of the waves, especially at higher frequency bands. Humidity during the summer months cause degradation in signal strength, and thus slight delays in data delivered to the handsets of mobile users. Additionally, the more complex an app or webpage, the longer it will take to load. According to research from Apteligent (via Android Headlines), humidity and warmer temperatures during the summer months can slow down app speeds by up to 15%.
Apteligent’s study examined app use on more than half a billion devices over a period of six months, three in the summer and three in the winter, and found that apps commonly used during the summer months — hiking apps, travel apps, and hospitality apps, for example — were most affected by latency issues. “As [developers are] sitting in their labs in Vancouver or Toronto [the app] may work great, but they need to realize these things are used out in the field, and they need to account for connectivity issues,” Apteligent co-founder and chief strategy officer, Andrew Levy, explains in an interview with ITBusiness.ca.
The discrepancy in load time between the summer and winter months has huge implications for app developers who are aiming to keep customers satisfied year round. Luckily, there are a few things app developers can do to reduce the effects of summer latency.
While app developers can’t control the weather, they can strengthen the functionality of their apps by making some minor changes to their design. Levy cites Instagram’s photo uploading process as an example of working around latency issues: “Instagram is famous for letting you take a photo and while it’s uploading in the background, you choose a filter,” he says. “That way the user experience seems much better, because by the time you’re done the photo is ready and uploaded.” Additionally, app developers can avoid connectivity issues by transferring essential features offline. For example, Google Translate allows users to download language packs so they can enjoy the features of the app without having to connect to the Internet.
While latency is certainly important, it isn’t the only factor that determines an app’s performance. App developers can optimize other features of their app through a simple DIY platform like AppMakr to deliver a seamless user experience, all year round.
So just remember: if your app slows down in the summer, don’t sweat it!
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