Communication technology continues to change and grow at a faster and faster rate. It has been 11 years since the original iPhone made its entrance, ushering in the age of the smartphone. Today, between smartphones, tablets, and smart watches, these tiny computers are everywhere.When it comes to maintaining mobile apps as they age, there are 4 critical rules you need to follow.
Are Your Mobile Apps Up-To-Date?
When your mobile app was first built, it was on a platform that most likely doesn’t work like the ones used today. The capabilities and features of the mobile platform were very different than now. The most dominant players in the mobile market are Google and Apple. They release software updates like clockwork. Apple releases major updates each year. Google releases updates roughly every six months. In other words, if you haven’t updated your mobile app in the past year, it’s likely that users can see its age.
We, as consumers, look forward to the features these new platforms will offer. When those changes take place, it’s a good time to review what your mobile app needs to stay up to date.
Four Rules for Maintaining Your Mobile Apps as They Age
1. Make Sure it Doesn’t Break
The world of mobile apps is very different from the real world we live and work in. In the real world, the laws of the universe have been around since the beginning of time. We expect them to continue unchanged. In the world of mobile apps, laws are changing at the whim of the company that develops the platform. Imagine if there were a law of physics that determined that all doors must open a certain way. One day, you learn that if you don’t change your doors to open a different way, they might stop working. Sure enough, a week later all unchanged doors are stuck, closed, and unusable.
As crazy as it sounds, this is the way the mobile apps industry works. Google and Apple will decide to change a feature in an upcoming software release. Then they will tell developers to stop doing something they’ve been doing. It’s on them, now, to make an immediate switch. Finally, if the switch doesn’t happen, Google and Apple will let the feature break. This has happened time and time again.
By updating your apps frequently, the developers can make sure to heed the warnings of the companies that control their universe. Keeping the apps within the guidelines of each platform ensures that you can always make small updates when you need to. Then, the application will continue to function when new devices are released.
2. Look Like You Care
When companies make updates to their mobile platform, they often change more than just the functionality. Even if your app survives the change in features, it will still look like the era that it was designed for.
No matter the functionality, an app that does not update the visual and navigational structure to match the current generation of the mobile OS will feel like it’s outdated. Often, these are relatively simple changes, updating icons and design elements, and can be done incrementally as each new version is released. Be cautious about letting the design get too old, however, or you may find that it will take more work than you expect to update it to modern standards.
3. Show Your Users You Care
Even if your mobile app continues to function as expected, and even if you believe your design still works, users expect updates. That’s part of what keeps them using your app. By keeping your app updated with new features, however small, and embracing the design language of your target platform, you will let your users know that you care.
When it comes right down to it, a mobile app, more than anything else, is there for the users. Without them, you don’t have an install base. When you push out an update you let them know that you haven’t forgotten them. They know that they can continue to rely on your app as they get new devices with new operating systems. Any data stored in the app that they access on a regular basis will continue to be available to them. Having the confidence of your users means less uninstalls, more market penetration, and a better reputation.
4. Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Compared to the cost of releasing a new app, or of letting your existing app stagnate to the point where a new one needs to be built to accommodate a backlog of features, simple maintenance is cheaper and has a higher ROI. Determining how to implement a continuous update schedule, though, can be daunting.
The mobile ecosystem is one of the fastest changing in the technology field. It is a field of fierce competition, and it’s always evolving. Once you acknowledge that it is time to update your app, it can still be difficult knowing where to begin. In this case, though, you don’t need to begin, only to continue.
Let your developers know up-front that you want to keep your app fresh and update it frequently. It will change their mentality when they develop it to make sure they won’t mind working on it in the future. Trust them to lead you in the right direction. Remember that most developers don’t just create mobile apps for their platform of choice, they are also some of the most dedicated users.
When new versions of mobile operating systems that you support are released, ask your developers for a list of highlights that affect your mobile app. Very often, the requirements for the update write themselves.
Want to Know More?
At Atlantic BT, we monitor the changes that are coming up from the earliest rumors, to the day of release. Our dedicated team of mobile developers and user experience specialists are always ready to help you make your mobile app grow better with age. Contact us to find out how we can help you with your mobile app needs.