As of 2019, it was estimated that there were over 2 million apps on the Android store and 1.83 million apps on the Apple store. With multiple devices being launched every year, app developers are left scrambling to deal with compatibility issues to ensure that users continue to have a seamless experience. In a world, where dependence on technology is high and patience low, ensuring optimum performance is key, and a few seconds of downtime can result in millions of dollars in loss.
Backed by their experience from working at Google, Quora, Zynga and Amazon Kindle, HeadSpin founders Manish Lachwani and Brien Colwell were familiar with the challenges that come with ensuring high-quality customer experiences for mobile and digital products. In February 2020, HeadSpin raised $60 million in Series C funding led by ICONIQ Capital and Dell Technologies Capital with participation from new institutional investors Tiger Global and Alpha Square Group, along with leading angel investors. According to Forbes, the startup is now worth $1.16 billion, and has notable clients like Facebook, Google, Uber, Tinder, ByteDance, YouTube and TikTok.
With technology scaling rapidly, and software development and test tools becoming redundant fast, the challenges with monitoring global cloud and network infrastructures were increasing exponentially.
“I met Brien in April 2015, when we were introduced by a mutual friend. Brian had raised money fromY-Combinator for his company Nextop next door.. At that point in time, I was also planning to build a company that could create an infrastructure to enable developers to do QA, much better,” says Manish.
Brien says his team and he were stuck in simulation and were having a hard time getting to the root of problems.
“When I met Manish, he was sending phones in manila envelopes around the world and he was just moving at lightspeed getting out into the real user conditions in real environments. I thought, that was the future..to get more real,” says Brien..
HeadSpin’s USP is that it allows developers to experience their mobile app or website like users. The company provides mobile, IoT, and 5G solutions to optimise connected experiences across applications, devices, and networks and is the creator of the world’s first Connected Intelligence PlatformTM.
This device testing cloud allows developers to test and monitor applications and infrastructure in real-world conditions across the globe from one location.
The Connected Intelligence Advantage
- Connected Experience: HeadSpin provides Mobile, IoT, and 5G solutions to optimise connected experiences across applications, devices, and networks.
- Real-time monitoring: HeadSpin allows developers to test and monitor their apps in real-time, on real devices and in real-world conditions before, during and after an app is released.
- Scalable device infrastructure: Infrastructure consists of 32,000+ SIM-enabled devices in 160+ locations in 110+ countries across 1,000+ telecom networks. It supports iOS and Android devices including phones, tablets, wearables and TVs.
- No SDK required: All performance data is monitored and captured through an API with no code change or SDK needed.
With a comprehensive end-to-end solution for mobile testing, performance management and user experience monitoring, HeadSpin currently owns the world’s largest and most stable device cloud with real SIM-enabled devices in more than 160 locations. This platform brings visibility to developers when it comes to performance issues with carrier networks, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
The company’s unique offering is its AI engine, which allows developers to identify and repair the root cause of bugs and user experience issues, both before and after the release of an app. HeadSpin’s solutions offer a granular-level capability at an unprecedented scale and compatibility with any device. It also offers developers a reproducible environment that correlates bugs with the specific code level or API/SDK calls.
The data science team at HeadSpin has been helping customers grow their businesses by applying AI to analyse the results of performance tests run by HeadSpin-enabled devices. The Connected Intelligence Platform™ runs analytics and identifies, quantifies, and prioritises issues observed during a test session. The reports generated then help customers map issues with the root causes.
The 24*7 platform also offers insights into why and how issues affect customer experience (CX) across applications, devices, networks, and locations. HeadSpin’s AI model outperforms humans at quantification and labelling tasks. It converts insights into self-learning systems that can be fed back into the model to improve based on user feedback. This further fine-tunes the AI models to continually adapt to support customer use cases. HeadSpin’s AI can also be easily integrated with clients’ existing DevOps processes. By identifying areas of poor user experience and performance, the model helps fix issues that could affect CX before the features are released to end-users.
Today, HeadSpin works with customers across the globe including Flipkart, Byju’s, Tinder, AirBnB, The New York Times, Uber, Google, Facebook, Pinterest, , Visa, PayPal, etc.
HeadSpin recently announced the launch of two new products:
- The HeadSpin AnyWear Mobility Unit, which allows testing and monitoring of apps, devices, and networks the way users experience them—on the go!
- The HeadSpin Benchmark Report, which allows comparison of crucial performance KPIs visa-a-vis others in the industry. It allows best-in-class performance data generated on real SIM-enabled devices in 160+ locations.
Despite its compatibility with all devices, HeadSpin’s solutions do not follow a one-size-fits-all approach. An example is when e-commerce giant Flipkart’s mobile app was facing challenges with customers abandoning their purchases mid-way and giving the app poor ranking on the Play and App stores citing slow load times and poor performance. When Flipkart developers moved from Volley to Retrofit (done on initialisation on the UI thread), app startup time increased — from 2.8 to 3.0 seconds. During a code review, the developers could not determine what was causing this slowdown.
NimbleDroid, a HeadSpin company, was able to detect and fix performance bottlenecks in their code base and prevent two serious performance regressions from going live to millions of users.
Solution: Flipkart used GSON extensively to parse JSON responses into model objects — which was done using reflection to determine the type of variable or field at runtime. Reflection is relatively slow on Android devices and Flipkart’s JSON response is nested and complex — so NimbleDroid was able to show developers that their app was taking more time than expected to parse JSON network responses. Using NimbleDroid, they were able to identify the issue and resolve it before the change went live. The solution also identified lazy initialisation of data that was not needed for app startup, helping save additional time.
Impact: The solution resulted in a 45 percent reduction in the Flipkart app’s startup time .
“With a 2.2 second startup time, we are far ahead of our competitors in the e-commerce domain. NimbleDroid did an excellent job correctly figuring out bottlenecks and which code developer needed to be corrected to improve app startup time,” says Sourabh Gupta, Android Developer, Flipkart
“The goal of HeadSpin is to provide developers access to a real world environment where they can measure the performance of the app before they actually launched,” says Manish.
“India has a huge number of small and medium-sized businesses and some amazing startups! Our goal is to develop solutions that will allow Indian businesses to succeed not only in the local markets but also internationally: Benchmarking and the ability to test in any device and any market in the world can be a real value add service for Indian businesses!”, he adds.
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