Mobile apps and their platform dependencies

Team Members

Facilitators: Anne Helmond, Esther Weltevrede, Michael Dieter, Jason Chao
Designer: Andrea Benedetti (DensityDesign)
Participants: Tom Weber, Anna Belotserkovskaya, Iskren Lilov, Alyssa Gehasse, Mariana Vieira, Dilara Akdemir, Morgane Billuart, Sne Scott Hansen, Mathis Guerreiro, Melissa Kesse, Saratu Abiola, Aleksandra Sevastianova, Melis Andreea Demirel, Michael Ashlong, Issaka Adams, Alette Schoon

Contents

1. Introduction

In this project, we empirically analyse the infrastructural relations between mobile apps, social media platforms, and third parties (see Dieter et al., 2019; Dieter et al., 2021; Gerlitz et al., 2019a; Gerlitz et al., 2019b; Weltevrede and Jansen, 2019) the first step we collect, map, and examine the kinds of third-party apps developed on top of five major social media platforms [Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok ]. Next, we explore the diverse practices and features supported and extended by those apps. In a final step we are interested in mapping the infrastructural dependencies of those apps on official and unofficial platform resources such as APIs and SDKs (see Gerlitz et al., 2019a). This approach provides insights into (i) infrastructural dependencies and relations with third parties, and (ii) alternative forms of platform programmability beyond APIs and into social media-based ‘innovation’ app ecosystems driven by creative developer workarounds. It builds on previous app studies projects aiming to develop approaches for examining data-intensive mobile infrastructures.

3. Research Questions

The main objectives of this project are:
  1. To map the third-party ecosystem of mobile apps built ‘on top of’ social media platforms.
  2. To develop, revise, and/or document methodologies for charting data-intensive infrastructures for mobile apps;
  3. To characterise the distinct types and nature of mobile data-intensive infrastructures.

4. Methodology and initial datasets

This project will explore the following digital methods tools and data sets (among others):
  • DMI/ASI App Store scrapers: https://tools.digitalmethods.net/app-scrapers/
  • AppInspect - Tool for retrieval and analysis of Android App Packages (APKs) + Google Play scraper
  • Commercial tools for SDK detection such as AppBrain.
  • Tools for mobile tracker detection such as Exodus.

5. Subprojects

6. Final Project Slides

Final Project Slides

7. References

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Topic revision: r1 - 31 Jan 2022, AnneHelmond
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