Every day we encounter bugs in mobile applications. They might crash or work in an unexpected way, but what if you could report the bug to the developers as it happened with all the contextual information they need to resolve the issue? This is what Buglife, a member of the Winter 2018 Y Combinator class, is trying to do.
Founders Dan DeCovnick and Dave Schukin came up with a first iteration of the idea in 2011 when both were working at Amazon to develop a music player for the iPhone. During the beta testing of the software, they found that people were having issues like music not streaming in certain situations and sending them emails. But they lacked context on what was going on on the phone when the problem occurred.
They needed to know more to resolve the issue, such as the type of phone, the operating system version, and the underlying log data. They built basic tools at Amazon to help capture this data, but the same issue surfaced in subsequent jobs at Yammer and Twitter, and he said he continued to see the same reporting hole.
They launched Buglife in 2016 to realize their idea of a bug reporting tool. They joined Y Combinator last month. The way the service works is that developers integrate the Buglife SDK into their iOS or Android application. When a user encounters a bug, they can simply shake the phone or the developers can choose another way to enter the Buglife workflow. Then they can take a screenshot, draw an arrow to the bug, and type a note about it. Buglife captures all related information such as capture logs, network information and routes it to Jira or Slack to provide developers with rich bug reports in the reporting tools they are accustomed to using.
Shukin says they originally saw the tool as a way to report bugs when they tested the app internally before release, but found that by releasing it to the world, the developers were using their tool on live apps in the app stores too.
He says the big difference between his company’s product and ones like Crashlytics or Bugsnag (a company we recently wrote about), is that they’re more of an attempt to automate the quality assurance process. Schukin said Buglife is more about user feedback / crowdsourcing the hard-to-automate types of bugs.
If you’re worried about the privacy implications of taking a screenshot and sending it to the developers, Shukin says they’ve set it up so that sensitive data like phone numbers and phone numbers credit card are blurry when the screenshot is taken.
The company reports good traction early on with some 300 apps integrating its bug reporting SDK. They charge per app per month with a free pricing tier for independent and open source developers. They have an enterprise pricing tier to help businesses with more complex integrations.
The two founders are the only employees at the moment and they felt joining Y Combinator was obvious. As engineers, they can get advice on the intricacies of running a business. “To start, [it’s helpful] just being connected with many founders, getting advice from them and hearing about their experiences in setting up similar businesses, ”said Shukin.
“I have lots of friends to ask about coding, but no one to ask about negotiating a contract or handling hiring. Having access to these resources has been huge,” he said.
As for the future, the company wants to be the solution for developers to collect information on mobile app bugs from around the world. “We want to be the central point where teams can easily collect all the data possible and the context of where the user got frustrated or had issues and intelligently deliver all that data to developers without having to go through hoops with customer support. “