When you develop your mobile app, the first version of it will probably be completed within 3 to 6 months. It may take more or less time, depending on how sophisticated it is. Once the first version has been built, you must continue to maintain the app by keeping it updated. If you look at the most popular apps in the Google Play Market and Apple App Store, you’ll see that these apps are updated on a weekly or monthly basis.
In our article, you will learn the basics of app updates, such as the various types of release cycles that exist and trying to balance the major updates with the small updates.
Here are the main things you should now:
- The best apps will have between 1 to 4 updates every month
- The factors which influence the speed of app updates include the size of your app development team, the feedback from users, and the data.
- Bug fixing or improvement updates should not take longer than 2 weeks.
- There must be a fast balance between small app updates that fix bugs and lengthier feature app releases.
- Be prepared to make between 2 to 4 updates ahead of time, although pay attention to the demands of the market.
The Importance of App Updates
Developers sometimes forget that updates are effective for app marketing purposes too. Just think about everyone who has installed your iOS or Android app onto their mobile device. When you release an app update, they will all be notified on their device that there is a new app update. This will make them think about your app again and it will stay on their mind. These updates will be listed in their Google Play Market or Apple App Store account. You have to remember that these stores are friendly to apps that have regular updates like this. It may help you achieve a better app store ranking for your app in the store as well.
You can establish a loyal following of users by having app updates. Just make sure these updates do things that help your users, such as fixing bugs and adding new features which your users are demanding. By regularly updating your app, it shows users that you’re still maintaining it. This will attract a loyal following and soon, your following will grow offline as well as online.
Word-of-mouth about your app will spread by your users. They’ll recommend your app to other people who are looking for the kind of things that your app can provide. The commitment that is generated here is not something that basic marketing would provide you.
Lastly, an app developer can communicate with all their users whenever they release an update because they get to include release notes with it. Although a small percentage of users will actually take the time to read these notes, these will be the users who are highly engaged in the app and understand the technical side of it. Therefore, do not ever forget to include release notes with new app releases.
Monthly App Updates
When you post an app onto the app store, do not expect immediate success with it. If you were to look at any successful app in an app store, you will see that they have weekly updates on a regular basis. At the very least, they will have one update every month. If you cannot provide a minimum of one monthly update, then it will be nearly impossible to make your app a success.
The feedback and data that you receive regarding your app will help give you a better understanding of the market. Then you can initiate app updates based on this information. Of course, you will need time to learn how to juggle the speed of your updates versus the amount of feedback and data that you’re receiving. If you can plan your releases more conservatively in the beginning, users will receive the updates a lot earlier.
There may be certain exceptions for not updating your app up to 4 times per month. For instance, if you are managing a lot of different apps, you will find it difficult to update each one of them on a monthly basis. In addition, you may have an app that is there just for maintenance purposes with no reason to invest any more money or time into it.
New Features in Your App Updates
The number of features that you try to implement into your app will influence how often you apply updates to it. If you try to develop big features or a lot of different features, then it will take a lot more time for users to receive the update.
The amount of time it takes to build new features will vary. However, it is recommended that you don’t spend more than 2 weeks on it. If you want to develop a new feature that is probably going to take several months to finish, try to find a way to consolidate the development cycle into 2 weeks. Don’t forget that you’ll need time to test the app and make last-minute refinements to it. At this point, you’ll be up to 4 weeks before the final update is released. This will just barely allow you to release the update before the month is over.
If you have a feature which requires several months of time and effort, then it is better to bring in a larger app development team on this project. The more people you have working together on a new feature, the faster new releases can be made. You can have certain members of your team focusing on fixing bugs while other members focus on developing features. A collaborative effort like this will reduce the time of each release considerably.
On the other hand, if you don’t have the convenience of a team to help you work on your app features, then try to adhere to the 2-week deadline for developing each feature.
App Updates for Fixing Bugs
A release that fixes bugs is an important update to make for an app. You can also have a release with both bug fixes and some new features in it too. However, most of the time, you’ll be focusing on updates which maintain the app and keep it stable. To give you an example, look at the last big release that Apple made for their operating system. This was the iOS 12 and it mostly had bug fixes to enhance the stability of the OS.
If an app has a lot of market share, you can expect them to frequently receive updates. The purpose of these apps is to enhance the overall user experience since the features are pretty much set in stone. If new features need to be built, the development cycles will take place concurrently with the update development. Usually, you’ll see updates that have bug fixes on a weekly or bi-monthly.
An Example Release Schedule and Roadmap of an App
For educational purposes, let’s imagine you have released the first version of your app. Now consider the release schedule and roadmap of it.
Your first app update should only fix bugs. You’ll want to eliminate all the problems and issues in your app that you possibly can. Developing new features should not be on your mind at this point. Since most bugs occur after the first release comes out, this is the best time to eliminate them. Otherwise, you’ll receive a lot of messages and negative remarks about these bugs. Try to apply the updates as quickly as possible. Don’t wait weeks to do them. If you can, apply them within a couple of days after the first release. This would update the app version from v1.0 to v1.0.1.
Every new release from this point should contain app refinements and bug fixes. Try to fix a handful of bugs at a time. Meanwhile, you’ll want to find your way to building a feature and releasing it every 2 weeks. It needs to be a feature that can be designed and developed within the 2-week timeframe. If you have a bigger app team, then you can tackle a bigger app feature. When you are finished creating your first big feature, it can be released under the label v1.1. Then if you were to apply minor updates after that, you would label them v1.1.1 for the first and v1.1.2 for the second.
Users will continue to provide you their feedback on the app in many places, such as the app store and social media. Review all this feedback so that you know which updates are in most demand. Then work toward satisfying these demands in each release that you make. You can prioritize particular bug fixes by reviewing crash reports, analytics, and other diagnostic information. Remember to think about the approval times that app stores set. When you release apps with new features in them, their subsequent labels will be v1.2 for the second release, v1.3 for the third, etc. But when you make multiple changes to the features and the entire app itself, you would just give the next release a v2.0 label.
It is always a wise idea to plan for between 2 to 4 releases and understand the scope of your releases for the next 6 months or more. Although, don’t completely solidify any of your releases. There needs to be a steady flow of releases and the updates you make need to depend on their level of importance in comparison to the activities in the marketplace.
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