7 Indicators Your App Requires an Update

In the app industry, we tend to focus on the development process as it is more creative, engaging, and glamorous than app maintenance. However, app updates are just as crucial to the app lifecycle. Neglecting regular updates can cause an app to become irrelevant and obsolete. According to 42Matters, 63% of the top 1000 apps in the Android App Store and 70% of the top 1000 apps in the Apple App Store are updated at least once a month. But how do you know when your app needs updating? This article will explore seven key indicators that it’s time for a refresh and update.

1. Users are reporting bugs

Negative user feedback and complaints about bugs or performance issues are clear signs that your app needs updating. At The Distance, we believe that User Experience (UX) is crucial for an app’s success.

Providing customers with a sub-standard experience will result in them quickly abandoning the app. On the other hand, delivering a great UX will encourage loyalty among your customer base. That’s why we put so much emphasis on perfecting the UX of our apps. It’s essential for maximizing the value our customers get from our products.

Customers often provide feedback in the app store, so it’s important to keep an eye on the app’s rating and respond to feedback. Some users may also contact you directly. In these cases, it’s best practice to respond quickly, thoroughly, and professionally.

2. Your performance metrics highlight problems

However, customer comments are not the only way to gather feedback. There are various performance metrics to take into account as well, such as:

  • Active users – usually measured by Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU), this metric shows the number of unique users who engage with your app over a certain period.
  • Session time – also known as Average Session Length, this metric measures how long users spend on your app each time they access it.
  • Retention rate – this metric measures the number of users who come back to your app over a given period. Retention can be measured on different time scales, but monthly, quarterly and yearly retention are considered important metrics.

This is just a small selection of the metrics available to app owners and developers. At The Distance, we go more in-depth, ensuring we have a comprehensive understanding of how an app performs. Other metrics such as Cost of Acquiring a Customer (CAC), Average Revenue per User (ARPU), Average Order Value (AOV) and App Load Time can also provide valuable insights into whether an app needs an update to improve performance.

3. New features are required

Digital technology and e-commerce are constantly evolving. If you don’t keep up, you risk losing customers to more agile competitors. In the app world, this often means introducing new features to stay current with trends in your industry and meet customer demand.

We see this happen frequently in the app ecosystem. For example, Instagram’s recent push into video caused significant pushback from users but it was a clear attempt to reposition the app, capitalize on the growing popularity of video and keep up with the competition from TikTok. Though the implementation may not have been perfect, this case illustrates how even the biggest apps regularly introduce new features.

4. Your codebase is outdated

As technology evolves, the foundations on which it is built change quickly. In the case of apps, this means codebases that become outdated. For example, Apple’s programming language Swift has undergone five major releases in just eight years, with numerous smaller updates in between. To keep up, it’s important to stay current with the latest industry developments.

Updating a codebase can be a time-consuming and complex process, but it’s often the best option. There comes a point where outdated code makes it difficult to maintain an app and even makes it incompatible with new operating systems. At that point, an update becomes crucial. Our expert developers can help you determine when it’s time for an update.

5. Changes to mobile devices

Mobile hardware is always advancing, and this can present challenges for app developers. New display orientations and screen resolutions affect how apps look and how users interact with them. New technologies also impact the types of features that can be introduced. For example, the resurgence of the flip phone with its foldable touchscreen is changing the industry in new and exciting ways.

The iPhone X is another example of how changes in mobile devices can affect apps. When it was released, the switch from a rectangular screen to an edge-to-edge screen resulted in significant changes to how apps were presented. Many apps that were not optimized for the new format had issues such as parts of the screen being cropped, the top of the screen disappearing, the larger screen size making everything appear more stretched, and content at the bottom of the screen being difficult to tap.

Changes like these are one of the main reasons why it’s important to work with an experienced app developer like The Distance. We stay up-to-date with the latest developments and can help you know when your apps need updating to keep up with the changes in mobile devices.

6. Responding to security concerns

Data security is a major concern for any organization that handles sensitive personal information. Failure to comply with regulations can result in financial penalties and severe reputational damage. While larger businesses may be able to withstand negative publicity from data breaches – such as Amazon, Slack, and Klarna apps in 2021 (per DarkReading) – smaller companies may find it more difficult to recover.

Cybersecurity is a constant battle between those who want to steal personal data and organizations that want to protect it. Cybercriminals are always searching for new ways to access secure systems and often succeed. This means that businesses must stay vigilant and respond to evolving security threats. In the case of apps, the most effective way to do this is by releasing regular security updates.

7. App stores change their guidelines

All major app stores periodically update their guidelines to reflect changes in the digital ecosystem and remain relevant. These updates can include loosening guidelines, as seen at Apple’s 2022 Worldwide Developer Conference (per TechCrunch), or adding or refining guidelines, which can require app developers to review their products to ensure they continue to comply with the regulations.

App store guidelines determine whether an app can be distributed on that platform. Failure to comply with the rules can result in an app being removed from the store by Google or Apple. At The Distance, we closely monitor industry developments and stay informed about updates to the guidelines of major app stores. This allows us to plan and prepare updates that address changes in the guidelines and ensure that customers can continue to download and access your app.

What’s next?

Updates are an essential part of the app development process. To keep an app relevant, secure, and compliant with regulations, regular updates are necessary. Technology, customer needs, and industry trends are constantly evolving, and the only way for an app to continue providing value to users is through growth, adaptation, and change over time.

At The Distance, our team has over a decade of experience in creating, maintaining, and updating top-quality apps. We understand when, why, and how to update your app, ensuring that the apps we develop for your business offer long-term value and a high return on investment. If you want to know more about how The Distance can help your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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