One of the biggest mistakes your company could make when planning a custom mobile app build, is not allocating adequate resources towards ongoing app maintenance.
These resources include a yearly budget for app maintenance, a plan for future updates and the people to make it happen.
An ideal mobile app maintenance plan (and budget) will include:
- Standard maintenance as a minimum – security updates, bug fixes and compatibility updates when new versions of iOS and Android are released
- New features and enhancements
- Performance monitoring
So let’s dive in for a deeper look at this topic.
5 Things to Include in Your App Maintenance Plan
Here are five things that your organization should include as part of your mobile app maintenance plan.
1. Security Updates & Code Maintenance
Even if you never add a new feature or refresh the design of your mobile app, old code must be maintained. This will include:
- Security patches
- Code updates to ensure compatibility with new versions of iOS or Android, and any connected APIs
- Paying down technical debt and fixing bugs
2. Annual App Audit & Compatibility Update
Roughly once a year, Apple and Google release a major new version of their mobile operating system (OS). Think iOS 14 to iOS 15, or Android 11 to 12.
Several months before the OS update is pushed to smartphone owners, app developers can download a beta version. It’s provided so they have time to test all their apps against the new operating system and fix any issues found before they hit users.
It is not at all uncommon for major iOS or Android updates to cause certain features of mobile apps to either stop working, or stop performing as expected.
For this reason, mobile app developers consider it imperative to include an annual app audit in your maintenance plan – as well as any needed compatibility updates that are found.
3. New Features and Enhancements
Though not technically “maintenance”, a budget for new features and enhancements should be allocated.
Think about the business software and apps you use most often. Would you even want to use their version one now?
Your company’s custom app is no different. Version one won’t cut it in a year’s time, let alone many years time.
By listening to user feedback and considering the needs of the business, your team can create a plan for what features to add next. This will include enhancing and evolving the existing features, and adding entirely new features.
If you’re wondering where to find user feedback:
- start by reading through your app reviews on Google Play and App Store
- talk to your customer service team and others who directly interface with the people using your app
- implement a process so your team can save any app feedback that comes through
4. Design Updates
Maintaining the visual design of your app is also important so it doesn’t fall victim to bad app design.
This includes keeping up with changes to your corporate branding, as well as modern design and usability standards.
5. Performance Monitoring
Via a few lines of code inserted in the app, data is collected to alert your developers about bugs, a crash or other problems while the app is running on real users’ phones. For your marketing department, performance monitoring also keeps tracks of how many people are using your app, new downloads by day, actions taken within the app, and more.
How Often Should We Update Our App?
At the very least, your company should plan to update your app once a year when new versions of iOS and Android are released. This usually happens in the third quarter of the year.
Security and other code and design updates can be done at the same time. That’s a bare minimum though and something we only suggest considering if your app is simple and not heavily used.
For more complex apps that are used regularly by your employees or customers, we consider quarterly a more appropriate minimum. Your developers will be better able to stay on top of security, platform and other critical updates.
How often are the best apps updated?
The best apps are updated more frequently. According to 2022 data, 66% of the top 1000 iOS apps and 63% of the top 1000 Android apps are updated monthly. Over 90% of the top apps are updated every year.
Last updated date
Another benefit of updating your app is that it keeps a fresh “last updated” date on its download page in the App Store and Google Play. This reassures your customers, and would-be users, that the app is secure, in working order and safe to use. It also sends a message that you are a tech-forward company that is actively in business.
Apps that aren’t updated may be deleted from the app store
Starting November 1st, 2022 Google will be hiding apps that haven’t been updated in more than two years. Apple also has been warning app developers that if their app hasn’t been updated in three years and doesn’t meet a minimal download threshold, it may be deleted from the App Store.
Final Thoughts on App Maintenance
When creating a budget for your app, be sure to leave room for ongoing maintenance and updates. And when interviewing app developers, ask about their maintenance plans.
If you already have an app and realize it hasn’t been updated in over a year, reach out to the team who initially developed it for you and ask them about maintenance plans.