Other product features

Powerful features not specific to any one Sensor Tower product

Insights Engine and Annotations

Sensor Tower has a huge breadth of data that measures the mobile app ecosystem. The relationships between the various signals that we measure are complicated, and some questions require sophisticated knowledge and usage of our product to answer. In an effort to make it easier to find new insights into the mobile app ecosystem, we’ve developed the Insights Engine.

The Insights Engine is a component in App Intelligence's Category Rankings and Keyword Rankings, and Store Intelligence's App Analysis that exposes helpful notes generated from our Mobile Insights team on significant dates and updates for apps. These data points can help explain why apps earned more downloads or revenue at certain times, or why an app began to climb or fall in category rankings.

Let's look at a few examples:

Consider Whole Foods Unified downloads. A helpful official app annotation explains that spike in Summer 2018:


Or consider Fortnite. Curious about the events and content releases that drive monetization? Our mobile insights team has you covered:


Official Annotations

Official Annotations are helpful insights that can explain spikes or sudden shifts in an app’s performance or give additional context to an app’s history. For example, Official Annotations can help explain:

  • Spikes in downloads that HBO apps experienced every time a new season of Game of Thrones was released.
  • Spikes in revenue that Fortnite experiences whenever a new season begins.
  • Why Pokémon Go suddenly started topping the Strategy game rankings in Summer 2019.

Our goal is to expose valuable new data alongside our existing graphs that give additional context to the primary signals that are being measured. You’ll see Official Annotations represented as text comment icons along the bottom of the graphs on App Analysis (Store Intel) and Category Rankings (App Intel). Official Annotations are the same color as the app they belong to, and are aligned to the same date timeline as the primary graph. To display the details of an Official Annotation, simply hover over the icon.


In-App Events

In both App Store and Unified views, In-App Events submitted to Apple will appear within the Insights timeline. These provide visibility into how mobile apps are using In-App Events to elevate user experiences, impact app growth, and generate revenue. In-App Events are denoted with a Star Icon on the Insights Timeline, opposed to the Plus Icon for App Updates.


Each In-App Event includes a unique Event Name, Date, Description and one of the following Apple Event Types:

  • New Season: Introduces new content, storylines, or media libraries to build on established content. Examples include a significant sporting event, a battle pass or themed content in a game, or a special episode of a television show.
  • Major Update: Introduces significant new features, content, or experiences. These events go beyond minor enhancements like UI adjustments or bug fixes. Examples include the launch of a new game mode or additional levels.
  • Challenge: Activities encouraging the user to achieve a goal before the event ends. Examples include a fitness challenge in a workout app or beating a certain number of levels in a game.
  • Competition: Activities in which users compete against one another for the highest ranking or to win rewards. Examples include a tournament where players battle to win the most matches.
  • Live Event: Activities that occur in real-time that all users can experience simultaneously. These events should provide users with new content, features, or goods. Examples include a sports match or a live streamed concert.
  • Special Event: Limited-time events that are not captured by another event badge, possibly spanning multiple activities or experiences. These events should provide users with new content, features, or goods. Examples include an event featuring a user collaboration.
  • Premiere: Introducing new content or media for the first time. These events should focus on the introduction of this unique content. Examples include a movie debut or newly released audio.

In-App Events on the Insights timeline are available from 16 September, 2022.

Use Cases

Sensor Tower has identified a wide range of signals that can help explain the causality of consumer activity on mobile. We can measure app updates, mobile advertising, and App Store editorial choices that drive user acquisition, revenue, and engagement. But some important events are outside of the mobile app ecosystem or can’t be measured by typical mechanisms, and this is where Official Annotations excels.

Consider this spike in Unified Downloads for Snapchat in April 2019:


There’s no new advertising activity leading up to the spike, and the app updates around that time are bug fixes and the release of some social games. So what happened here? The primary driver of these downloads was almost certainly the release of the gender swap AR lens. To be more specific, the viral reaction of users sharing gender-swapped selfies on social media, and subsequent news coverage generated consumer interest which drove new downloads.

You could also consider scenarios like live-ops events in games, which are primarily released through server-side changes, not app updates. Or consider the impact of live-streamed events, viral marketing, or film releases that drive licensed mobile apps. All these events are challenging to capture programmatically but have an important impact on the downloads, revenue, and engagement that Sensor Tower provides.

Sensor Tower’s Mobile Insights team comes to the rescue with our new Official Annotations feature. Our expert industry analyst team will identify spikes and tie them to holistic external data and provide the key reasons why the movement occurred. We’ve explored company acquisitions, calendar events like the Super Bowl and Black Friday, and bespoke research around games seasons and content releases.

Official Annotations are exposed to App Analysis (Store Intel) and Category Rankings and Keyword Rankings (App Intel), along a new UI component called the Insights Timeline. Here’s an example of the annotation described above:


Over time, we’ll implement this feature across additional Sensor Tower products, and introduce new kinds of signals to the Insights Timeline. We’re excited to hear your feedback and any requests for new types of research and annotations.

Custom Annotations

The Insights Engine is one way that Sensor Tower exposes interesting events and context to our mobile ecosystem estimates. When you find new insights or important data, you can share those data with other members of your organization by publishing your own custom annotations to the Insights Timeline.


To publish your own custom annotation, you can click on the green plus icon at the left edge of the Insights Timeline, or click on the last row of any Insight tooltip.

On the Add Annotation modal, you can pick under which app and date you want to publish the annotation.


If you want to Edit or Delete an annotation, just click on its icon on the Insights Timeline. Only the annotation author or an organization Admin can edit or delete an annotation.

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