5 Things You Should Know About Updating Your App -

5 Things You Should Know About Updating Your App


In our previous articles, we covered some of the most important topics related to launching and promoting an app. But after all the effort invested in these stages, you are not done yet. You need to keep your eyes opened and be ready to update your app whenever it needs. This is a good way to bring your app back in front of your users. Both, Apple and Google, have their lists on app stores with updated applications and they encourage developers to improve their apps regularly. Frequent updates are signs that the app is being maintained and it is in its owner’s attention. This happens even more if developers invest time in highlighting the reasons of updating in the release notes. It is very important to pay attention to this aspect. In the same time, updating your app will assure you a continuous growth in terms of user acquisition and retention. On the other hand, forgotten apps can be the target of attackers which may use them to steal information or to make some actions on users’ behalf by creating communications between two apps, as mentioned in McAfee Labs Threats Report: June 2016.

We will share with you the main types for the necessity of updates, which are bug fixing, feature releases or major updates. Before we go on with the explanations, we need to clarify the version numbers for a better understanding of the whole process. Usually, a version number consists of 3 numbers separated by dots, like 2.3.1 and it is changing according to the modifications you add to your app. The first number will increase if you make a major update. The second one is for a minor update and the third one is for revisions. It is believed that in the future the version number will be simplified and higher like version 47 or 52 as it is for browsers or for Facebook.

Bug Fix

The biggest problem also known as developer’s nightmare is an error or a bug reported by a user or the tools. Every app has errors but after testing it and uploading it to the market the worst thing that could happen is to discover an issue with the app and because of that, the app can’t function as it should. Another reason that can make you update the app is its stability. You need to fix the problems that can cause your app to crash and to offer your audience an error free and stable app. Bug fixing is considered a revision and you have to add a unit to the last number in its version.

Major Updates

Major updates are considered when you are adding a whole new feature or you are bringing big changes to your app. In this case, you have to increase the first number of your version. In some situations, there are developers that prefer to release a whole new app instead of a big new version. It is a fine line between increasing app downloads or revenue and upsetting the current users. It depends on the marketing strategy or on the gravity of the problem. Sometimes it is better to launch a new app then struggling to fix a huge issue. By the way, if you lose the password or the key of your app you will never be able to update it again. So, be organized or you will need to change the whole package and to create a new app with new promotion campaigns all over again. But, if you keep your files in order and you save some copies of the key that will never happen.
Returning to the previous idea, if you decide to create a whole new app there are different circumstances for this situation. Either you prefer to have a free basic app and a more improved paid app, or two paid apps or to freemium apps. It is your call to choose the right technique but be careful to the users’ point of view and act accordingly.

Feature Release

It is very hard to find a balance between the complexity of your app and its features. In fact, you want a simple app with a lot of facilities. This can be tricky, mainly if you have to manage the updates by yourself. If you have more than one app it is not that easy to come back to each one and to update it on a regular basis. This is considered a minor release and you need to update the second number of your version.

How To Determine If Your App Needs An Update Or Not

While some updates are urgent for the proper functioning of the app, there are other changes that need to be done for improving it and to engage your users more. Mainly, after the initial release of the app, you need to prepare your first update. Keep in mind, though, this is not the time for new features. This first update has to follow the v1.0.1 pattern and to assure users that it is a stable app and there are no bugs that can crash your app. In this case, you can use some of the tools described in a previous article when we detailed 7 Crash Reporting Tools For iOS And Android Apps. After that, be careful with your analytics, to app store reviews, to social media accounts and to any other source for your users’ feedback. Then you will know what problems need to be fixed or you will be aware of the new features that will send the app in the top of its category. Moreover, every 2 or 4 weeks you need to adjust the features, to add better facilities or to remove the ones that are useless or cause performance problems.
Since the app marketplace is so dynamic, another special case when you must modify your app is when Google or Apple announces that a major modification of their OS happened recently and that can influence the good functioning of your app. For example, last month Google announced that a change made to its platform can cause a poor app experience for those apps that require GPS hardware. At the end of this email, there was a list with all the apps that needed the update. So, if an app offers an accurate location as its main feature it was urgent for the developer that received the message to add a line of code in AndroidManifest.xml file.


The following update chart provided by App Empire can help you figuring out when is the time for a new update.


Looking at the chart below we realize that most of the apps that released frequent updates saw high ratings as a result of the changes they made. On the other side, the ones that ignored this practice faced lower ratings.

An interesting approach is adopted by BuzzFeed News who announces its users about the new features through screenshots on Apple App Store. As Ryan Johnson, Vice President of Mobile Engineering at BuzzFeed, states:
“It’s really important to us that we provide a cutting-edge experience for our users, and that means tying updates with iOS releases and hardware releases.”

Image Source: https://developer.apple.com/app-store/app-updates/

Image Source: https://developer.apple.com/app-store/app-updates/

Another popular app that takes advantage of benefits provided by the entire process of improvement is Slack which is using the release notes on app page to engage users.



Final Thoughts

Frequent updates are the proof of loyalty for the users of your app. But the number of monthly updates depends on the size of the development team. For small teams or for individual developers it is harder to handle periodic updates than for larger teams. Try to manage your time and to concentrate on fewer but important features that will satisfy your users and are easier to maintain. A great strategy to boost your downloads is to follow some popular event and to change your app according to that situation. Keep up with the trend and lead your app to success. In conclusion, the more amount of time you invest in your app, the more downloads you get.


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