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How Often Should You Update Your App?

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Now your mobile app is finally ready, approved and released in App Store. New users are flowing into your app, you’re growing and get praising feedbacks from happy customers. It is about time to thinks about mobile app maintenance and updates. Plus, you definitely have on your mind new ways to enhance your mobile app. But how would you know if it is right time to update your solution and add new functionality to it? After all, new updates sometimes cause a wave of critics, and users comment that they would prefer if the solution would stay the way it was before the update.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the topic of mobile app update and discover when exactly it is appropriate to do this, and how not to make your solution worse or over-packed with unnecessary fwatures.

What is the maintenance every app requires and when to update it?

To begin with, let’s take a quick look at the recommended frequency of minor and major app updates. If you’ve noticed each software product comes with its unique version number, like “1.2.8” or “2.1.6”. Those figures are assigned with purpose and there is a formal convention for assigning those version apps numbers.

A traditional software version number consists of three parts separated by dots with such semantics beneath: major_version. minor_version. patch.


The patch number is incremented by any bug fix, little update, and upgrade that doesn’t change the software’s API. The minor version is incremented if changes are applied to the API, but the newer version is backward-compatible. The major version number is incremented if you’ve made a massive update with API changes that made your app non backward-compatible, means the older versions of software could not connect with your app.

  • The frequency of patches greatly depends on users’ feedback and app performance statistics. The good number is 1-2 small fixes per month.
  • Minor upgrades, redesigns, and new features are made in accordance with the performance/size of your app development team. There is no right number.
  • Prepare 2-3 updates for apps in advance and prospect audience demand. Audience demand is a first and foremost reason to make mobile app updates.
  • 1-4 updates per month – the median frequency of updates for most popular apps across Google Market and App Store.

But stay calm! The frequency of app updates can differ depending on your goals and app’s functionality. Each type of changes have a different level of complexity and quite possibly that you won’t even need to apply major updates to your mobile app.

Reasons to Update Mobile App

The first question you should ask yourself is: “How do I want to update my app?” The answer to this question will help you to defin whether you’d prefer simple bug fixing  in order to respond to user’s feedbacks orwhether you’d like to make major improvements and enhance your app with new features.

Here are some main reasons that encourage app owners to improve their solutions with time:

  • Bug Fixing. Typically such kind of fixes are gathered in a single patch in order to save time on updates.
  • Design Refreshment. Small design moves like changing of button colors, adding extra information slot, or a Halloween or any other time-limited seasonal or holiday-related stilization.
  • Security Upgrades may be needed if a new security standard occurs, or you’re adding new payment processing option to your mobile app. It is crucial to always make sure that your solution is safe to use. 

Take into account that every update and bug fix you make should be processed and approved by Google Play or Apple’s App Store before updated apps will become available. It may require several weeks for Apple’s App Store to approve a single update, so value your time and try to include several fixes and revisions while updating apps. It must also be acknowledged that approvement process of an Android applications is much less painful and time-consuming.

There is a shortcut that allows iOS developers to speed up submission process in case if you have a security fix or crucial bug fix that prevents the app from constant crashes. Use it wisely.

Here are also some more reasons for you to consider updating your mobile solution and avoid the decline in its popularity:

  • Major version Updates of third-party APIs, on which your application depends. If you ignore this factor, you app may stop function properly.
  • Updates of third-party systems and frameworks that are used in the mobile app. If you do not want you mobile app to lose some functionality or end up working ncorrectly, you need to update it when third-party integrations change their policy or add something new.
  • Span of new libraries, approaches, and techniques makes app’s code outdated.
  • Audience growth provokes the need for scale and more efficient code solutions.
  • Compliance with new hardware requirements/constraints.
  • New devices, form factors, OS versions. New devices may have new screen sizes and new  OS version may have features that every app should support, that is why an update is a must.

Minor and Major Updates

Minor or major releases are made in order to enhance your app beyond its original look and purpose.

  • New Functionality. You may want to add a standalone feature or upgrade existing functionality in order to enable premium account option.
  • New Content. There is a golden rule we use in Altamira: The more often your content should be updated – the more preferable it is to move it to the server side and update via admin panel. You definitely don’t want to update news app three times a day, but new game staff is better to keep on the user’s side of the app in order to raise its performance.
  • Users Feedback. The user always wants something new. For instance, adding new languages can increase app downloads with little or no effort from your side.
  • New Monetization Options. Changing monetization strategy, adding AdSense option adding or enabling in-app purchases will certainly require you to update your app. But think twice before changing your pricing choice for promotions and marketing purposes!
  • Obsolescence. Here’s a standalone set of reasons for apps updates: any mobile app gets old over time. This is an inevitable process that caused by the nature of software itself. As well as hardware is damaged by wear and tear, the software constantly evolves leaving behind the older, not supported version of itself.

Major Update VS New App

Logo Evolution

At some point, you may think about a major update and find it easier to create a brand new application instead of tweaking the old one. It may seem rational to build a new app from software development point of view, but better think about it as a mobile app owner.

#1 Major Update

Among main pros of major updates we can name first of all an easy promotion. Your user base will stays intact and all you have to do is to announce the update and make your users interested in it.  Also with major updates brand loyalty increases, as long as users get new functionality for free. So take this into account when making a new version of your solution.

Cons of this approach:

  • Higher expenses if you don’t charge users for new features.
  • Development and design constraints. The app has its baggage you need to deal with.

#2 Releasing New App

Releasing new application has it advantages as well. For example you will get higher prospected income. You will also be able to attract more new potential customers and expand your user base. There would also nt be any development risks and constraints related to the previous code specifics.

Cons of this approach:

  • Higher expenses for promotion. New brand – new links.
  • Difficulties in the migration of users’ setting to the new app.

The only thing to add is you should always think about your audience’s interests first. Whether you’re developing a major or minor update, focus on value and customer satisfaction rate. The loyal audience provides higher revenues, than no audience at all.


Users upload and install updates at least once a month to keep their apps fresh and well functioning. So it is recommended not to release minor updates too often. You better collect all features you want to add or bugs that you need to fix in a list, and then implement them in one release.
If your application has some minor bugs and users keep writing about them in their reviews, then you should pay attention and release a new version of app with fixed bugs. Also with time you make consider to refresh an app design a little bit because it needs to be trendy and user friendly. If you always stick to old visual dicisions then you app can lose its competitiveness.
You need to be aware of the latest trends popular in your app segment. Also from time to time mobile devices with different screen sizes get released and you need to think about how you app will look on them.

Is it expensive to maintain an app?

There is a so called thumb rule allowing to calculate how much it will cost to maintain your solution after it is released. Usually it takes aroung 20% of initial development cost to mintain a solution on a yearly basis. Let’s imagine your app costed you $100,000. So  maintenance will take $20,000 per year.

The maintenance will include minor updates, the developers will rgularly test your solution and make sure that it functions fine and all third-party integrations do not limit your app functionality. During maintenance youalso can consider extending you app and adding some new options to it, or else.

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