Updating apps

When Should You Create A New App Versus Updating Apps?

When deliberating over updating apps versus creating an entirely new app, appreneurs face a serious dilemma. Will updating their existing apps continue to excite users, or will a new app take their business to the next level? We take a deeper look at both and answer several questions that you may have.

1. Should You Ever Stop Updating An Old App?

There are several reasons why you’ll want to stop updating an old app. For one, it’s so old that the user base has dwindled significantly, and it’s no longer feasible to provide updates. Secondly, it doesn’t run well on newer hardware, and an app update won’t take advantage of modern chipsets. Thirdly, your codebase has become bloated and unmaintainable that your app would benefit from a complete rewrite.

Of course, there’s always a risk that you’ll disappoint your loyal users if you stop supporting a much-loved app. Ensure that you don’t alienate these users by communicating that you’ll create an entirely new and improved app that will replace the older app. And make it easy for them to move to the new app via an effective onboarding process.

If you’ve invested heavily in an older app, it’s not necessary to abandon it. You can still refactor the codebase and keep releasing it to your existing customers. But even if you do a complete rewrite of your app, you can still launch it with the same bundle ID and app name, and your users would get it.

2. Is Updating Apps More Time Consuming Than Starting Over?

If you’re working with an experienced development team, then updating apps shouldn’t take much time. The team should regularly provide minor and major updates throughout the year to keep these apps relevant. And these updates will take the form of additional content, bug fixes, enhanced functionality, new monetization options, platform compliance, and security patches, to name a few.

However, it’s important to mention that it takes several weeks for Apple’s App Store and Google Play to approve bug fixes and updates. A competent team will make several fixes before submitting a revised app to the stores. Thus, saving valuable time and ensuring that users have the most up-to-date app available.

3. Are Your New App Design Ideas Limited By Old Code?

Whether we like it or not, a piece of software will always face obsolescence at some point. No matter how advanced and innovative your app is, it’ll become obsolete eventually.

For example, you may want to implement new app design ideas that take advantage of the bigger screen real estate of foldable phones. But your older apps were designed for smartphones with single and smaller screens. You decide to roll out an update that resizes your app for foldable phones, but users complain that it feels shoehorned and that the User Interface (UI) doesn’t feel native to their phones or that the User Experience (UX) doesn’t feel quite right.

You may be able to implement these new features with an app update. If you’re refactoring your codebase and following software best practices, then you should be able to make the necessary changes. However, if this isn’t the best solution, consider rewriting your app to take advantage of the latest smartphone features.

4. How Often Are Users Updating Apps?

Every time you release an app update, ensure that you’re monitoring how often your users are updating your app. Why this is so important is because it tells you if users are still interested in your app. If they’re not regularly updating, then it’s likely that interest is waning.

Furthermore, you must gather and analyze user feedback to determine what users truly want. Perhaps, they’ve grown tired of your app, as it no longer provides them with features they find valuable. Or your app’s lagging behind competing offerings, and you’ll need to create an entirely new app to remain relevant.

5. Is A New App More Profitable Than Updating?

It largely depends if your app can retain user interest over a long period. Consider the costs associated with updating your app every year, which is approximately 20% of your initial development costs. Within five years, you would’ve spent about as much on updating an existing app as you would on a new app.

If an existing app can retain profitability over five years or more, then updating makes sense. But if an app doesn’t retain a sizable user base over this period to ensure its profitability, it’s better to create a new app. Moreover, you’ll likely attract more potential users and expand your user base with a new app, provided you also properly market and promote it.

Another side benefit of releasing an entirely new application is for listing purposes in the app stores. When you launch an app for the first time, it will get listed in the ‘what’s new’ section. Inevitably, this will enhance your app’s visibility and help you draw new users that you could never reach before.

6. Did A Major App Update Perform Well Or Not?

A major app update will increase brand loyalty as long as you provide users with the features they want. But it can also go horribly wrong if you’re not careful. When you’re implementing additional functionality, this inevitably increases your costs. Ideally, you’ll want to monetize these extra features, especially if users find these valuable. However, it’s also possible that users don’t want to pay for these features, meaning that you won’t see a meaningful ROI.

7. Can You Transfer User Settings To A New App Easily?

Do keep in mind that there are often compatibility issues when attempting to run older apps on new hardware. But compatibility issues don’t end there. If an older app uses a different file format from a new app, transferring user settings will prove difficult.

Of course, a competent developer will offer a workaround that allows users to transfer their settings. However, it’s always good practice to implement commonly-used data formats such as JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). All your apps should parse data with this format to make it easy for users to move to your latest app without inconveniencing them.

8. Is It Too Difficult To Add New Features To Your App?

It shouldn’t prove too difficult to add new features to a well-designed and engineered app. If you’re working with an experienced developer, such as NS804, updating apps won’t be a problem. But if your app has become bloated after several updates or suffers from technical debt, it will become hard to maintain. Moreover, adding new features will only make your app more unstable while negatively affecting its usability.

It’s crucial that your projects allow you to implement your new app design ideas. Users are always looking forward to features and improvements that make their favorite apps more engaging. Therefore, an outdated codebase can become a liability if it’s hindering you from moving forward with your ideas.

9. Will A New App Boost Your User Base?

There are no guarantees that your latest app will succeed if you release it out in the wild. It’s always easier and less costly to promote an existing app than an entirely new offering. But if you want to know if your new app design ideas are feasible, then it’s best to create a minimum viable product (MVP) to measure interest. After all, it costs less and takes less time to make an MVP than a full-fledged app, which inevitably reduces your risk.

Once you’ve ascertained that your MVP has gained traction with users, it’s time to scale. You can now move ahead and implement more of your ideas that’ll differentiate your app in a crowded marketplace. Be sure to market and promote your latest app to reach new users and increase your user base. Contact us today to learn how NS804 can help you create a new app that engages and excites your users.

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