Few first-time appreneurs and developers consider mobile app maintenance when laboring away on their debut projects. And that’s reckless, to put it mildly, as app development is a long process that doesn’t end at launch. Users and the app stores expect apps to receive regular updates months or even years after their initial releases.
But why are app updates such a pertinent issue that appreneurs and developers must never ignore? The primary reason is that no app is perfect on release and will likely never be during its lifetime. There is a certain quality threshold that an app must meet before it offers a satisfactory user experience. Not meeting this threshold will cause users to uninstall the app and leave negative reviews and low ratings, hurting the prospects of the app.
That’s why the savviest appreneurs and developers have a mobile app maintenance plan from day one. They know that they must set aside resources for the continuous upkeep of their apps. These resources often include the funding, staff, analytics, tooling, and training required for app maintenance. Furthermore, it’s necessary to have dedicated staff or contractors to handle communications, compliance, documentation, user experience (UX) testing, quality assurance (QA) testing, and user feedback.
Now, that’s a lot to unpack and only drives through the message that app development is a long, costly, and challenging endeavor. But we don’t want to dissuade you from trying your hand at app development, especially if this will be your first attempt. Instead, we encourage you to move forward, partner with an experienced and reputable studio like NS804, and consider the helpful pointers listed below.
What Does Mobile App Maintenance Entail?
Mobile app maintenance is an ongoing process that involves multiple tasks that result in the continuous improvement of apps. These tasks include gathering user feedback, data, and analytics. These factors will let developers know whether or not their apps meet changing customer expectations.
If apps don’t meet customer expectations, developers must modify their apps to bring them in line with these expectations. However, this is only possible by rolling out app updates at regular cadences. In the case of app-breaking bugs or security vulnerabilities, developers must release patches timeously.
And even if an app runs smoothly and reasonably bug-free, it’s still necessary to respond to current market trends. For example, 2023 was a big year for artificial intelligence (AI) that the market couldn’t ignore. Soon after the launch of ChatGPT and other similar services, mobile app developers quickly launched new AI apps or implemented AI features in their existing apps.
It’s not uncommon for appreneurs and developers to abandon apps if they’re no longer feasible. The app stores are incredibly competitive — if not downright brutal — making it difficult to justify the cost and effort to maintain underperforming apps.
Yet, this is not the case with custom apps, especially those aimed at internal company tasks and business-to-business (B2B) applications. Mobile app maintenance is crucial for custom business apps, as regular security and feature updates are essential for the smooth functioning of organizations of all sizes.
Why Do Users Care About Regular App Updates?
Today’s smartphone users are app-wise and can easily discern a good app from a bad one. Moreover, today’s users are part of a mature market gradually reaching its growth limits. We only need to look at the US smartphone market to understand the staggering difference between today and a decade ago. In 2013, there were approximately 173 million smartphone users in the US, but today, it’s edging closer to 315 million.
While we may be reaching the peak of the smartphone era, this doesn’t mean the app market is going away. It only means that there’s an increase in user demands that you must respond to if you’re going to succeed. But how can you succeed in such an overwhelmingly crowded market where users uninstall apps on a whim? The first step is to create an app that addresses a problem that users have and to make it sticky.
Of course, that’s not easy, and few developers get this right on their initial attempt. But let’s assume you are addressing a problem users are experiencing, but they’re still uninstalling your app — what now?
That’s where your mobile app maintenance plan comes in, as you’ll focus tightly on your app’s performance and user data. Your analytics will let you know if your user journeys and flows are succeeding or failing. You’ll also know if technical issues make your app function inadequately. These are the most common reasons why users drop apps like hot potatoes and why post-launch analytics are so crucial.
Once you know what’s holding your app back, you can address all relevant issues. Then, plan your roadmap to release the necessary fixes and updates. And establish an effective communications pipeline to gather user feedback and inform users of new updates.
Why A Lack Of Updates Will Hurt Your App?
Even your most diehard users will lose interest in your app if you don’t update it regularly. They will assume that you no longer have the interest or resources to roll out updates and will eventually move on to apps that seem more promising. There’s nothing worse than losing users due to not providing them with the features competitors have provided already. The current state of the app market requires that you respond to user needs rapidly.
Look at the leading mobile apps in your segment, and you’ll find that all these receive regular updates. Every app update helps to reinvigorate interest, especially with those users who have started to drop off or become bored. But it’s also a great way to draw new users and media attention when app updates include innovative or highly desired features.
A lack of updates will also hurt your app’s stability and usability, especially when users upgrade their devices. Furthermore, Apple and Google demand that developers update their apps to meet the requirements of their latest operating systems and APIs. Failing to do so will result in the removal of any un-updated apps from the App Store and Google Play. Third-party Android stores also have specific app update policies that you must follow if you publish on these.
Security concerns around hacking and data breaches have become the norm recently. Since many people use mobile apps for financial transactions, you must ensure that your app never has any security vulnerabilities. Even if you’re developing a mobile game, you must never take security issues lightly since hackers exploit these also to gain access to user credentials. So, always roll out patches and updates as soon as you know of or encounter a new vulnerability.
How App Updates Help Keep Your Tech Stack Current?
You may be proud of your studio for using the latest technology stack to create your apps. But technology moves forward rapidly, especially in the mobile space. What’s trailblazing today can quickly become outdated in a matter of months. Therefore, you never want to stick to the current versions of your integrated development environments (IDEs), APIs, frameworks, game engines, backend technologies, testing, and deployment tools.
Sure, your programmers may want to use long-term support (LTS) releases for a more stable development environment. But eventually, you’ll need to pull the plug and move on to the latest supported version. Your team may whine about such a decision since they will feel more comfortable with the older tooling. But ultimately, they must use the tooling that increases stability, usability, and quality.
The beauty of mobile development tooling vendors is they have close relationships with the device manufacturers. Thus, they build their tools according to current and future hardware specifications. And that’s fantastic because this means you’ll often gain a free performance boost and increased stability when building your app with the latest tools.
Furthermore, you’ll be future-proofing your app since it will run adequately on devices about to hit the market. So, you’ll have the assurance that your app will run on devices you haven’t tested for yet. But this doesn’t mean that you should ignore testing altogether. Always test on an emulator if you lack access to a specific mobile device.
As part of your mobile app maintenance processes, ensure that you keep up to date with what your tooling vendors are releasing. Read their blog posts and release notes regularly, and update all your development tools timeously.
What Are The Different Types Of App Updates?
There are several kinds of updates you can roll out, but not all will be suitable for your app. We explain which app updates are best suited for which purposes here:
- Feature release updates: Your users will provide feedback about features they want, so you should roll out feature release updates with these additional features. If your app proves popular, you may need to implement these kinds of releases several times a year.
- Functionality updates: You should roll out functionality updates when upgrading an existing function. The frequency of these updates will depend on how often you need to upgrade the functionality of your app.
- Maintenance updates: If your app suffers from vulnerability issues due to a cybersecurity threat, you must release emergency hotfixes immediately. You may also release a preventative update for potential attacks, an adaptive update to deal with upcoming changes, and a corrective update for patching up quality issues.
- Monthly updates: All new apps need monthly updates to gain and retain user trust. Also, it’s necessary to release weekly updates if your app suffers from serious usability, stability, and security issues.
- Updates for watershed events: You can surprise and delight your users by releasing an update to celebrate the first year of its release. The update must include a significant change or improvement to set your app apart from competitors.
How To Implement Mobile App Maintenance Successfully?
All the stages of the mobile app development process are challenging. But you can make the maintenance process of your app more manageable by following these steps:
- Document your mobile app maintenance plan: Always keep notes and documents produced by all stakeholders involved in your project. Ensure that all team members can retrieve these documents easily when necessary.
- Prioritize training: Ensure your team is up to speed with the latest app update procedures and technologies.
- Establish effective communications pipelines: You want to keep all stakeholders in the loop at all times. Keep your communications open and secure for all the relevant parties, and keep everyone informed of any crucial events that require their attention.
- Keep ahead of compliance and policy changes: The app stores constantly alter their guidelines and policies, so you must adhere to these to avoid any nasty surprises. Furthermore, stay current on regulations in the different territories you publish.
- Regularly test the effectiveness of your app’s UX: Always be mindful of the end-user experience by testing your app’s UX. More often than not, a bad UX is why most users uninstall apps, and it’s fixable with an update.
Why Do You Need To Partner With A Reputable Studio?
As you can tell, mobile app maintenance requires hard work and sticking to a tried-and-tested plan. If you already have prior experience with the processes mentioned earlier, you know what to expect. Yet, you may still need the assistance of a talented mobile developer to help you deal with all the complexities involved with regular app updates. And if you’re new to all this, partnering with a studio is undoubtedly the right choice.
A highly acclaimed and reputable studio like NS804 will help you deploy your app updates on time and within budget. We’ll look at your plan, goals, and requirements with an analytical eye and offer solutions that will drive your app down a successful path.
Furthermore, we’ll help you evaluate methodologies and development technologies that will lead to the best possible upkeep of your app. We’ll also help you implement new features, fix bugs, and optimize your app so you can focus on other aspects of your app development endeavors.
Mobile app maintenance is a crucial part of the entire app development cycle. Never ignore this part, as your users expect you to deliver updates that will keep them stuck to your app. If you do this right, you’ll extend the potential lifespan of your app, driving additional revenue and business. Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you plan, prepare, and deploy app updates like a pro!