How Much Does it Cost to Update an App?

You can never fully say that you have a final version of your business app. You have to constantly seek to improve the user experience. This means releasing updates throughout the year. Nowadays, it’s become the norm to release small and frequent updates instead of waiting a whole year before releasing a major update. It has worked well for businesses. In fact, in the App Store, the 100 best-performing apps in terms of gross revenue release updates every 9 days or fewer, on average. This shows that they never stop working to release features or fix bugs.

Understanding Major and Minor Updates

The version number of an app is crucial in understanding how updates work. A version number has 3 digits normally, for instance, 2.4.6. The first digit on the left represents a major version, the middle digit is a minor version, and the third is a revision. Revisions and minor updates are slight changes that occur frequently. A major update takes longer to occur and represents big changes to the look and feel of the app. They might even be targeted at new users.

The Cost of Updating an App

A business should set aside an annual budget for the maintenance and updating of it’s app. Normally, the amount set aside should be a percentage of the initial cost of building the app. The norm is to allocate 20% of the initial development costs.

The actual amount spent will depend on updates being carried out and the reasons for an app update. For instance, if major bugs are causing loss or revenue, a major update might be due. This will require a bigger budget compared to a slight revision. Here are common reasons for updating an app.

Fixing Security Vulnerabilities

Cybercriminals are constantly searching for security loopholes on apps. If your business has an e-commerce app or any other that has valuable data, you must always stay several steps ahead. This quest to improve security through updates should be an unending quest because your business depends on it. A successful attack can deal your business a deadly blow.

In fact, data security is a major concern for users today. Regulatory authorities are now even stricter than perhaps five years ago on the responsibility of businesses to protect user data. No app is 100% fool-proof. However, it’s possible to monitor evolutions in attacks and constantly update the app to withstand them.

To Fix Bugs

A sudden bug on your app might not cause users to abandon the app. They can forgive it once or twice. However, when a bug stays too long without getting fixed, it builds frustration, leading to abandonment. For high user retention purposes, a business should strive to fix bugs as fast as possible. Big companies such as Facebook and Google do not let glitches in their products linger for more than a few hours. It would hurt their brand too much.

Bugs are inevitable in development. They might be caused by a scalability issue or the release of a new feature. The development team has to always stay on standby to fix these and send a message of competence to users.


A major update to your app will be due if your business is seeking to rebrand. You might even end up changing the name of the app. Updates such as these can be meant to appeal to a new market segment or completely change the attitude of customers to the brand. Rebranding could also be meant to give the app a modern feel. This can be achieved using color, fonts, and other elements of typography. Major rebranding of an app happens, sometimes, after a thorough survey of customers’ thoughts and feelings. User experience does not always depend on functionality. Aesthetics matter too.

Releasing New Features

Updates add new functionalities to apps. For instance, a banking app might release a new feature that allows users to request their bank statement to be sent to their email or pay for utilities straight from their bank balance. New features send a message to the customers that the business is seeking to give them more value for having the app. It instills loyalty.

In fact, businesses sometimes hold some features so they can test and release them gradually to keep up the excitement among users.

Specific Costs of Updating Your App

Each year, your app updates costs will be driven by certain activities. First, you will need to constantly monitor your app analytics. This includes looking at the amount of traffic during the different hours of the day, the traffic sources, usage time, and so on. If a certain feature of the app is showing a lot of activity compared to others, you will want to focus and develop it further. If certain features are leading to bugs or exits from the app, an investigation might be due to fix a bug or improve user experience.

App monitoring is also crucial. This includes studying user feedback on social media and the various stores where an app is published. Some apps have communities where users discuss new features, bugs, and upcoming updates. Such a community is great for building loyalty too.

A business will incur costs in keeping the development team on board. If the app is at the heart of the business’s business model, then the development team is likely to be in house. However, if the app is not the core business, then a third party might have been contracted to build and maintain the app. It’s crucial to keep a good relationship with the development because it makes updates cheaper, faster, and more frequent.

Finally, some of the costs will go to marketing the updates. In fact, updates are a great way for your app to stay top of mind for users. Here are a few ways to market your app updates.


Every update should have a description of the changes or improvements. These notes and descriptions can influence the conversation rates on App Stores. For instance, customers who may have abandoned the app may download it again if an update fixes the bug and confirms the same on the description notes. Descriptions are an important part of app store optimization.

Push Notifications After Update on APP

Push notifications prompt app users to download updates for your app. They can also share information on the benefits of newer versions of your app. Notifications can even prompt users to take a walkthrough of new features which increases usage of new and exciting features on your app. w


Ads on social media and mainstream media can educate the target audience on new features and benefits of an app. In fact, ads can be accompanied by a rewards campaign to encourage them to download and use the app.

Keeping Users Engaged through Updates

Updating your app is a necessary investment to keep your target users engaged. If your competitors are constantly refreshing and improving their apps, you’ll need to do so to keep up with them as well as the latest technology. Users expect the latest features and integrations on apps. The cost of updating your app each year is likely to be 20% of the initial development costs. This will enable you to release minor revisions and version updates and a major update each year.

If your company needs help in developing, maintaining, and updating your app, check out NS804. We are an app development company that helps businesses build and maximize the utility of their apps. 

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