Tips for Updating Your Existing Mobile App
by Tim Bornholdt · Published on September 30, 2019
Imagine you just bought a new car. It's freshly waxed and has that new car smell, with soft leather seats, clean floor mats, a touchscreen navigation clear of fingerprints, and a free trial of satellite radio.
Now imagine it's several months down the road. Your car's trudged through a Minnesota winter, hauled kids to and from hockey practice, and begrudgingly driven across state to visit the in-laws for the holidays. Your new car isn't feeling so new anymore and likely needs some TLC: a detailed car wash, an oil change, and a SiriusXM subscription because scanning through FM radio stations won't cut it during your next road trip.
Maintaining a car is a lot like maintaining an app. After you've had an app on the App Store or Google Play for a few months, it's likely ready for some updates to make it feel new and shiny again. But where do you start?
Are your customers begging you to incorporate a new feature?
Maybe Apple announced a whole new operating system and you need to keep your app looking fresh and up-to-date?
Perhaps you want to change your app revenue model and incorporate in-app purchases?
Whatever the case, updating your app gives you a chance to look at your product from a fresh perspective and make several changes at once.
Why would I update my app?
Of course, an update from an iOS 12-optimized app should include making things look more like iOS 13. However, keep in mind that design isn't just how things look; design is about how things work.
Perhaps you want to incorporate more gestures into your app, or you want to consolidate sections to make things easier to find for your customers.
Spend some time thinking through how a fresh design will make your app faster and easier to use.
Revise old functionality
An app built even a few years ago might look ancient in the fast-paced world of the App or Google Play Store. Updating your app gives you a chance to make sure your app still functions properly. It also allows you the opportunity to remove broken or outdated features.
Adopt new functionality
Could your app benefit from iBeacon? Would you like to make your app easier to navigate for customers with disabilities? Launching version 2.0 of your app is the best time to incorporate a few key additions into your app.
Play with your revenue model
Did you launch your app in the App or Google Play Store for $4.99? Would it make more sense to make it free with in-app purchase? Moving to the next major release of your app is a great time to play with your pricing structure and see how it affects your app sales.
What should I keep in mind before upgrading my app?
Upgrading might leave customers in the lurch
If your app was optimized for iOS 11 and you make your app iOS 13 only, you could be losing customers who can't run the latest OS on their devices. Be sure that the features you want to add make good business sense before abandoning a percentage of your customer base.
Upgrades can cost as much as the initial development
Depending on how your app was built in the first place, your software may have accumulated a lot of technical debt. If you are planning on making several significant changes to your app, it can be more cost-effective to just start from scratch than it is to try to patch up an existing project.
The cost of upgrading your app really depends on how many features you want to fix/incorporate. Talk through any pricing and time concerns with your team before you begin development.
Your original development team might not be immediately available
App developers are in high demand, and your original development team might be too busy to immediately work on your project. In addition, their rates may have increased since you last used their services. Be sure to shop around for the best team before signing another deal with your previous team.
As with your initial development plan, talk through your vision for your app's upgrade with your development team and be sure you have considered the upgrade from all possible angles before implementing it.
If you have a solid road map and development team in place, updating your app will keep your product from getting stale and will help increase your app's chances of profitability. We'd love to hear how your app's upgrade process went, so let us know on Twitter!