You’ve worked hard and successfully created and launched your app – but the work is far from over. To make the most of your app, and also to sustain its user base, you need to be sure to maintain it regularly. Here are some of the main reasons why app maintenance is so important:
Keep Up with the Latest Tech
OS and device updates are released frequently, and between the major OS updates there are minor updates that can affect an app’s functionality. When highly anticipated devices are released – such as the iPhone X as an example – if an app isn’t updated to specifically support the new device, it will run in a compatibility mode that makes it stand out from other apps (and not in a good way.) Someone with an iPhone X will notice, and now you risk abandonment by that user.
Updating an app almost always results in a bump in usage – and in many cases also an increase in downloads and purchases. This is most likely because the app appears in the update list of the app store – it’s pretty much like having free advertising just for updating your app. On iOS devices, the updated app gets a blue dot next to the name on the device to indicate it’s been updated and on Androids the user receives an update notification indicating the app has recently been updated. These alerts tend to get the user’s attention, and possibly serve as a reminder about the app, even if it’s buried in folders and they forgot about it.
Bugs and User Concerns
Bugs happen – just look at all of the frequent minor iOS updates to address “bug fixes.” However, having an update process in place prevents these bugs from being around longer than they should. Plus, it shows users that you’re addressing issues and haven’t forgotten about them. User reviews can be a great resource for learning about bugs and suggestions for improvement. After all, who’s better to give feedback than those who use the app on a regular basis? Developers have the opportunity to respond to user reviews in both the App store and Google Play. When a user's concerns are addressed in app updates, it’s a good idea to point that out in response to reviews.
Update Content and App Libraries
In addition to the technical reasons for updating your app, there’s also the content on the app itself to consider as well as the aesthetics. If the content on your app never changes, then users could perceive it as stale and irrelevant and become inactive or delete it all together. Also, the design and overall look of the app can get stale as well. Design elements can go out of style just like fashion trends, so be sure to keep it looking fresh and modern.
But don’t stop updating there: most apps have other 3rd party “libraries” in them that enable other features. For example, a push notification feature may be enabled by a 3rd party library. If you go through the trouble of updating your app, but forget to update the 3rd party libraries, your app could still perform poorly, appearing to the end user that you never even updated.
If you want to know how many active users your app has, update numbers are reported by Apple and Google and can give you a good indication of the number of people actually using the app vs. how many have downloaded it. For example, if your analytics show that you have about 20,000 unique users in the app per month. When the app is updated, 65,000 updates are reported over the course of a week. That means that there are 45,000 people who still have the app installed, but aren’t using it on a monthly basis.
These are just a few of the important reasons why maintaining your app is essential to long-term success. Do you have some insight into keeping you app up to date? We'd love to hear from you.