How often should mobile apps be updated? To help answer this question, we analyzed the Top 100 Free, Paid, and Grossing apps (as of August 8th, 2019) and their version update history. When we sliced the data by app category and looked at the top 10 apps in each, we found meaningful differences between the categories. This makes sense as apps of different categories cater to different audiences and have different functions. This means that the problems they face and the updates they release will be different. In this blog post, we'll take a look at update trends in photo and video category apps.
Types of app updates
Not all updates are created equal. There are major updates, minor updates, and revisions. Major updates usually cover huge revamps or substantial features being added to an app. Minor updates cover smaller new features or improvements. And revisions cover minor aspects such as bug fixes and performance enhancements.
Obviously, no one will be rolling out major updates every week. Revisions are more frequent than minor updates, which are more frequent than major updates.
Why app updates are important
In the top 100 grossing apps, the median time since last update is nine days. Updating an app in and of itself won’t guarantee success, but the data shows that the most successful apps are updated frequently.
Frequent updates help developers address user needs quicker. If there are critical issues that have been reported by many users, a quick update to fix the problem is necessary to keep users happy. Updates can also contain MVPs of new features to quickly gather customer feedback, with continuous iteration in future releases.
Impact of app updates on store reviews
It’s critical to have a high app rating. Among the top 100 free apps, the median app rating was 4.7, and only nine apps had a rating lower than 4.0. Among the top 100 grossing apps, the lowest app rating was 3.9, and only six apps had a rating below 4.2. For the top 10 apps under the photo and video category, the numbers were similar: a median app rating of 4.7, with eight out of 10 apps scoring higher than 4.5.
As of this year, older app reviews are no longer counted equally to newer reviews on both the App Store and Google Play. This means app ratings now better reflect an app’s current quality. It also means that apps have an incentive to update more frequently, because they have better chances of increasing their app rating with new updates.
What the data on photo and video category apps shows
Among the top apps in the photo and video category, the average time between releases is 15.25 days. The following graph shows the distribution of average days between updates compared to app rank.
The app ranked at number eight (Layout from Instagram) was a clear outlier, with the last update being over a year ago.
There is some variation in update frequency shown in the graph. Three apps prefer a weekly schedule, three prefer a 10-day schedule, two bi-weekly, and one monthly.
The median days between updates for the top photo and video apps is eight days. It is very common for apps to release one update and then release another update immediately after (this is the “Oh no we broke something important” panic fix), so looking at the median eliminates these quick fixes and other anomalies in the data. Meanwhile, the most common difference in days between updates is six days.
Additionally, the top photo and video category apps mirror a trend found in the top free apps: that the more frequent the app updates, the higher the app ranking.
How do photo and video category apps compare with the rest
Overall for the top 100 free apps, the median amount of days between updates for the entire data set is 8.75 days, and the most common difference in days (update schedule) is seven days. This shows that most free apps tend to push to get updates out every week. The Photo & Video category shares a similar trend that favors a weekly update schedule.
Meanwhile, the median of the top grossing data set coming in at 13.5 days and the most common difference being 14 days.
The top paid apps tend to update monthly or bi-monthly.
Best practices for updating your photo and video category apps
From trends in the data, we can get an idea of how often you should be updating your entertainment mobile app. This can be summed up in four best practices:
- Stick to a healthy (but not strict) weekly release schedule.
- Monitor your releases and customer feedback. If there is a critical issue, fix it as soon as possible as recent app store reviews are weighted more.
- Plan major and minor updates with your release cadence in mind.
- Adjust to your mobile team’s capacity.
How Instabug can help
Updating your app frequently is very demanding. Apps need dedicated teams to detect problems, solve them, and push out solutions in a small window of time. Also, big and small development teams will always hit unforeseen errors that could be very costly.
This is where Instabug comes in, the comprehensive platform for Real-Time Contextual Insights throughout the entire app life cycle. Instabug helps apps:
- Monitor release stability with Crash Reporting
- Find, debug, and fix issues faster with Bug Reporting
- Collect valuable user input through In-App Feedback forms and In-App Surveys
- Drive more five-star reviews with App Rating surveys
- Alert users to new features with What’s New broadcasts
- Encourage users to update through Version Update prompts
- Progressive Release: How to Release Your App With Less Stress
- Why Does Your App Keep Crashing?
- Benchmarking Crashing Sessions for Mobile Apps (What Is a Good Crash Rate?)
- Prevent Churn by Replying to Crash Reports
- How to Get the Most Out of Instabug Crash Reports