AppCam is a new SDK that allows Android developers to capture videos of user activity in their apps. The startup says AppCam is the first such service developed especially for Android, though several similar products already exist for iOS, including Appsee, LookBack, and Watchsend.
The Seoul-based startup, which recently received seed funding from Strong Ventures, lets the creators of apps see what features their users spend a lot of time on (or quickly exit); when they are likely to purchase real or virtual goods; or where they are most likely to close out of the app.
Recording options can be configured to capture on wi-fi only to minimize mobile data usage. In order to optimize video quality and network bandwidth, AppCam says it “implemented a proprietary congestion control algorithm to adapt to a wide array of network environments.” Developers can also chose to hide sensitive user information by skipping screens or masking specific fields.
AppCam’s founders, Luke Seo and Taeho Kim, say the SDK doesn’t impact the performance of their apps even on older or cheaper Android devices. For example, the developer of a music player app discovered the following things after using AppCam discovered layout problems with lower-end smartphones commonly used in Southeast Asia.
“The biggest challenge for the Android platform is dealing with the variety of Android devices and OS’s. There is huge difference in CPU power between the newer and older devices. We wanted to ensure that integrating the AppCam SDK didn’t have a negative impact on the app’s performance for the older devices,” they explain.
“To overcome this challenge we built our own algorithm to make AppCam optimize the video quality and network bandwidth usage for any device. So far we have verified that AppCam runs well on over 100 different Android hardware models, including many of the older devices.”
Other potential use cases for AppCam include remote usability and beta testing, or getting detailed user information without requiring him or her to go to a specific location. App crashes are difficult to figure out by looking at log data analytics, while analyzing app crash videos makes the process much quicker.
Live monitoring is also available, but AppCam takes several steps to protect user privacy.
“Basically, AppCam does not interact with any data of the app itself or any data that is sent and received through the network to and from the app. We also provide the tools to protect any sensitive user information. It is possible to block out a specific field, such as a password field or credit card number field, or an entire screen, and it is even possible to skip specific activities so that they are never recorded by AppCam,” say Seo and Kim.
“We ask through our terms, and trust the app developers – who each have their own terms and privacy policies – to abide by their agreement to respect their users’ sensitive information and receive their users’ consent when necessary,” they add. “After all, it will be the app developers and not AppCam who will be viewing the videos.”
AppCam’s founders say being based in Seoul is an advantage because Android’s share of the South Korean smartphone market is about 85%. The startups haven’t ruled out the possibility of creating an SDK for iOS in the future, however, which would mean it would compete directly with Appsee, LookBack, and Watchsend.
For now, AppCam’s founder says the main alternative to their service is TestFairy, a beta testing service for Android. AppCam differentiates by offering an SDK that can be configured for different use cases, while TestFairy is a test-only platform and developers upload an APK which TestFairy sets to take captures from every screen.
The first few devices a developer uses AppCam’s SDK on are free, then they can pick from a tiered pricing plan based on the number of devices the SDK is used on with no limit to the number of apps or user interaction videos that get captured.