Embrace’s iOS and Android SDKs are now built on OpenTelemetry!

Read the release
User Session Insights

What is a User Timeline?

Learn about the Embrace User Timeline: what it is, how it benefits your team, and how to best leverage the data from it to improve your app.

Mobile teams need to be three things to succeed — fast, efficient, and accurate.

Although these three elements are vital, findings from the 2024 Mobile Developer Pain Points Report show a clear disconnect between individual contributors (ICs) and higher-level titles regarding one of the most important contributing factors to this success — tooling. While over 40% of ICs report accessing tools that make their work more efficient as a top priority, just shy of half of ICs still report that they don’t have the right tools to do their job.

This is where the User Timeline becomes useful — it’s a powerful tool that shows you the intricacies of user engagement.

In this blog, we’ll define what a User Timeline is, how to use it, how it benefits your team, and how to best use its data to make the most of your app.

Defining a User Timeline

A User Timeline is a comprehensive breakdown of a user’s interaction with your mobile app. From the initial launch to the final exit, the User Timeline shows each interaction, providing the insights you need about your users’ behavior.


In this timeline, you can see technical events, including things such as network calls and errors alongside behavioral events like views, activities, screens, and button presses. Beyond this, you can see critical device state details, including CPU usage, memory consumption, battery status, and connectivity strength. Lastly, the timeline also captures session outcomes, including crashes, ANRs, and force quits, which offers a holistic view to optimize your user experience and app performance.

The User Timeline isn’t session replay; it’s a better tool for mobile engineers

The User Timeline offers a comprehensive analysis beyond mere user actions. In this way, it’s unlike the session replay you might be familiar with.

Session replay solely captures user interactions at a surface level. A session replay literally shows you what a user did, either through videos or pictures, but it doesn’t show you what the app did as a response. This leaves you without the actionable data you need to get to the root cause of an issue. 

The User Timeline, however, provides an in-depth accounting of a user’s engagement and the app’s response. It goes beyond the surface level and provides the critical data you need to fix bugs and improve your app.

Who benefits from the User Timeline?

Every member of your mobile team benefits from the User Timeline, but the method in which they benefit varies. From ICs to VPs, SVPs, and CTOs, each role gains valuable insights tailored to their needs.

The User Timeline is unique because it helps reveal optimization opportunities mobile teams can make on the frontend — groundbreaking for many developers that are typically used to making all optimizations on the backend. 

How do mobile engineers benefit from the User Timeline?

The User Timeline makes troubleshooting, issue reproduction, and debugging easier for mobile engineers. 

The main benefit of the User Session Timeline is that it shows the exact path taken by the user. This means that you can see all the pertinent details that contribute to issues, including device state details like CPU, memory, battery level, and connection status, technical details like network calls and errors, and behavioral details like taps, clicks, and views during a session, eliminating ambiguity and facilitating issue reproduction. 

These details eliminate guesswork and are crucial in leading you to the source of a problem while providing the data to fix it.

How do managers and the greater org benefit from the User Timeline?

The User Timeline helps mobile orgs build and provide better user experiences, leading to more users, higher retention, and greater revenue.

Generating more revenue

By empowering developers to optimize key monetization flows, the User Timeline helps generate more revenue. In practice, this may look like focusing on a cart or checkout screen in an e-commerce app, an in-app purchase in a game, etc. The User Timeline’s ability to optimize these key experiences minimizes revenue leaks.

Improving customer response times

With its detailed insight into a user’s entire app journey, the User Timeline enables development teams to swiftly identify and address customer-reported issues. As a result, your team can improve response times, enhance customer satisfaction, and boost your app reputation by fostering user loyalty.

Maintaining and optimizing key user flows

The User Timeline is holistic, so it allows your team to monitor key user flows like startup time, confirmation screens, pause menus, and more. By monitoring these areas of your app, you’re able to identify where these flows may deviate from user expectations, promptly rectify issues, and ensure a seamless user experience.

How is a User Timeline leveraged?

The User Timeline is a powerful tool best used to dig into an individual user’s session. Let’s walk through an example of how you can use it. In this instance, you can imagine that you’ve received a complaint from a user and you want to dig into the details.


To start, you’ll head to the “Sessions” tab on the left navigation bar and begin by searching for a specific user session using an identifier. As shown in the image above, you can search for users by persona, Embrace ID, user ID, username, or email.


From the identifier of your choosing, you’ll then choose an individual user session and click through to the User Timeline view. 

In this image, you’ll notice the stitched sessions at the top. Stitched sessions are foreground sessions that occurred within five minutes of one another “stitched” together. They’re valuable because they show the entire user journey even outside of the current session, since problems don’t always arise in the current session you’re viewing.

Here, you can see this user has two foreground sessions with a period where the app was background denoted by the gray rectangle in between.


Digging down further into the timeline details, you can see a view showcasing the full device details, user journey specifics, technical details, and session outcomes. You also have the option to expand network calls to get the full detail, as exemplified by the connection error in the image above.


You can also choose to “See Details” of any type of occurrence in the timeline details.


When you click “See Details”, you can view the network path details, the frequency of the error, and any relevant user sessions that are also experiencing this problem.

By leveraging the User Timeline, development teams can effectively address user concerns and optimize their app performanc

What can you do with a User Timeline?

The User Timeline offers great data, but it might be more than what you’re used to seeing. If you’re struggling to imagine how you can best leverage a User Timeline, here are a few different use cases:

  • Social media apps: For platforms heavily reliant on background sessions and push notifications, the User Timeline provides visibility into user interactions during these sessions. If your user opens a notification and is pushed into a session fraught with network connectivity issues or has a problem that stems over several sessions, the timeline will surface these issues and help point you to the source.
  • E-commerce apps: In many shopping apps, where frequent interactions with third-party authentication and web resources are common, your users might experience trouble with failed log-ins, authentication, etc. The User Timeline helps here because it shows the full view of a user’s activities and interactions to help you pinpoint the cause of bottlenecks. 
  • Transportation apps: Transportation apps often encounter interruptions in user sessions while said user is requesting the ride, waiting for it, riding, and arriving. The User Timeline allows developers to see the full scope of these interrupted sessions to analyze app behavior through the duration of the ride. These insights can enhance the app stability and user satisfaction.
  • Gaming apps: Gaming apps often have issues with ad SDKs or ANRs that make it difficult to stay below behavior thresholds in the Google Play Console — these issues benefit from the User Timeline. The timeline provides deeper insight into the user context surrounding ANRs and other errors, allowing you to mitigate these issues and anticipate player needs based on behavioral patterns. This information allows you to refine game mechanics, optimize difficult levels, and boost your user retention.


User expectations are ever-evolving, so to deliver an exceptional experience, you always need to have the best data available. The User Timeline provides high-fidelity data that spans the entire user journey, empowering developers to solve issues, reduce bugs, and deliver exceptional user experiences.

Learn more about our User Timeline here or request a demo today.

Embrace See the User Timeline in action

Learn how you can use Embrace’s User Timeline to improve your user experience.

Take the tour

Build better mobile apps with Embrace

Find out how Embrace helps engineers identify, prioritize, and resolve app issues with ease.