One question that we see occasionally when roaming app development forums, Q&A sites and other blogs is: "How often should I update my app?" Of course there is no one set answer.
The frequency at which a developer updates will depend on a variety of different factors. App complexity, availability of programming resources, bug urgency and keyword update testing will all figure into how often updates are released.
But let's take a look at the Top 25 apps on our Leaderboard and find out what the top apps are doing. Since our Leaderboard only ranks iOS apps at the moment, and due to the fact that version update information is not available for Google Play, we will only be examining iOS apps.
Since these are some of the very best apps in the world, this post will give you an idea of what it takes to maintain these top apps. More importantly however, we will show you how to analyze your competition to find out if there is anything you can do to stay ahead of the pack.
Clash of Clans
Candy Crush Saga
Game of War - Fire Age
Farm Heroes Saga
Big Fish Casino - Free
Pet Rescue Saga
DoubleDown Casino - Free
Minecraft - Pocket Edition
Real Estate by Zillow
Each one of our App Profile Pages has a Versions section that tracks the version updates of every app. For example, this is what the Clash of Clans Versions box looks like.
When you click on the More link, you can see the entire version update history, from the time that tracking first began, to the most recent update. Now you can copy and paste this into your preferred spreadsheet program.
In this example, I'm using Numbers, but the process is similar in Google Docs, Excel or any other spreadsheet program. To figure out the difference between two dates, simply subtract them. Then take the average of all of the differences.
After compiling all the results, this is what we discovered. As you can see, there was a range of update periods, but the average was about 30 days between updates.
Games tend to be on the lower end of the spectrum, with more frequent updates. The exceptions are the casino games, which have a longer time between updates, presumably because they do not change much. Apps that are updated less frequently are social media apps like YouTube and Tumblr and messaging apps like Viber and Kik Messenger.
We hope that this post has encouraged you to take a look at how often your competition is updating their apps. Of course, you shouldn't do an update just for the sake of doing an update, but this information can help you in a couple of different ways.
First, there may be a set schedule at which a competing app updates. If this is that case, you can time your updates to happen before your competition, which can give you an edge, if speed to market is important in your category.
Second, you may notice trends. If top apps in your category are updating more often, it can give you something to work towards in terms of providing your users with more frequent improvements. You may not have the bandwidth to do it now, but at least you will be more aware of what is going on in your market.
Finally, be sure to dig down into what other apps are actually changing by using our Update Timeline. Of course, this is not as important as other optimizations, but it will give you more in-depth knowledge about what other developers are doing.
What did you discover in your category?