Mobile apps are gaining importance because they have managed to make things available on the fingertips. You have worked on your app idea and hired the best developer to make the app available to the users. Launching app is not enough, you have to maintain the app as well. Maintenance includes taking care of bugs, supporting the new version of OS or feature enhancement, there is a lot that needs to be done to keep your app alive. While planning for your app, you should be aware of the app maintenance and the cost involved in the process. We have developed and maintained several apps and here are the details of different types of app maintenance and the cost involved. 

The Necessity of App Maintenance

App maintenance is necessary for any app that you launch to stay relevant and competitive. App maintenance will help you to take care of any bugs, crashes and performance issues. Whenever iOS and Android launches a new version of the operating system, you will have to make sure your app is functioning right. You may have to make coding changes to support your app. The reviews and feedback provided by the users on the store make you aware of the trend and their wants. App maintenance will help you to fulfill the desired requirements of the users in your mobile app.  Regular app maintenance will help to optimize the effectiveness of the mobile app. 

Common Forms of App Maintenance:

1)Fixing the bugs 

You may find bugs in your app like app crashing or poor performance on certain screens. You should identify those issues and ask your developers to fix the. App crashes will drive users away from your mobile app and increase the risk of more uninstallation of your mobile app. You don’t want users to be frustrated with the app performance, it takes a lot to have someone download your app and try it. You can add crash reporting tools like Crashlytics or Bugsnag to get the reports on crashes. They will provide insight on what issue caused the crashes. You should also embed analytics SDK like google analytics in your app to monitor the performance of the app. These tools make it easier for your developer to identify the issues and fix them.

2) Functions and Feature Update 

When you launch your app for the first time, it may not be a perfect app. You will learn based upon user feedback and reviews about what features you want to add or remove in your app. User feedback and reviews are one of the primary reasons for feature updates in your app. The other reason could be the competition, your competitor may have launched a feature that is attracting users and you also want to stand out.  The update of the new features based on the feedback of the users will help your app to retain. Sometime you may come up with an innovative feature your own and wants to add that in the app. Sometimes when you have a large user base, you may modify the design to provide something new to the customer. All these require app maintenance. 

3) Operating System Upgrade 

The operating system (IOS and Android) provides regular updates for the performance of smartphones. Typically a major update happens once a year and two minor updates come out annually. The latest OS update may not support your app, you should always test your app on the latest OS version to make sure it is functioning correctly. If your app is not updated for the OS, you might get crashes, feedback or bad reviews. Sometimes OS update can be big, for example, in 2017, Apple stopped supporting 32-bit apps and fully migrated to 64 bits. That required a lot of code work for many apps to function. Most of the minor OS updates are backward compatible, which means they are supposed to support the existing app without any code changes. iOS and Android always follow a schedule to update the apps and they always inform all app developers and app owners about the upcoming OS versions. They launch the beta version of OS to developers in advance so that they could test their apps and make necessary changes ahead of time. If you have apps on the stores, you should be aware of upcoming versions and test your app. Below is a table of few last versions of iOS and Android OS:

Year Android iOS
2019 Android 10 iOS 13
2018 Android 9.0 Pie iOS 12
2017 Android 8.0 Oreo iOS 11


4) Updating the UI/UX designs

To have engaged user base, you continuously need to focus on improving the user experience and user interface. Many times smartphone companies will launch a new phone with the bigger screen size and you may have to update the app design to ensure it works on new screens. iPhone X was launched with bigger screen sizes and cause several apps to update the designs. Sometimes market trends changes, you may have to keep the app updated with the changing styles. The update in the UX/UI designs provides the user with a sense that the app creators and really interested in providing the best values to the customers. Sometimes you will get feedback from users that certain design aspects are not good and you may have to change those. 

5) Security updates 

The biggest upcoming threat to the app ecosystem is cybersecurity, apps access several personal data from devices, social media and sometimes medical devices like heart rate meter. Many times they ask users to enter sensitive data like credit card information, SSN, health data, location, and pictures.  Hackers try to attach apps to capture this data. You may learn of these security threats after you launched your app. This may require you to update your app code or backend code where you store the data. If you are launching a healthcare app, you may have to make HIPAA compliant to protect the health data. Any app that is for payments required to be PCI compliant. You should check if your app needs to adhere to any compliance. There are certain features you can have in your app to protect it from security threats. Some of these features are:

Enabling your mobile app with the fingerprint logins 

  • Not securing data in the app locally.
  • Encrypt all the data saved locally.
  • If transmitting data to a backend, make sure to have client-server encryption.
  • If saving data in the backend, decrypt the data.
  • Use SSL certificates on the backend server.

Cost of App Maintenance 

1) Labor cost for Bugs, Enhances, and Upgrades

For the proper app maintenance, you should retain the app development team. It is always advisable to have the original team who developed the app. This is because they have written the original and knows the existing architecture. It is a lot easier for them to update the code in the app. You should have a support agreement with them which defines how much they would charge you hourly for the support of the app.  If your app developer is in the USA, your hourly support cost may be from $60-$150 per hour, depending upon who is maintaining your app. If you are budgeting for the Bugs, Enhancements, and updates, a typical budget should be around 20% of the cost it took to build the app. For example, if you spend $30,000 to build the app, you should allocate around $6000 for the first year of maintenance. 

2) App Store Cost

App start charges annual fees to keep your apps live in the app stores. Apple charges $99 a year for the apple developer account to publish an app. You can use one account to publish multiple apps. Google charges a one time fee of $25 to upload an app. The charges of the app store are based on a percentage basis. Therefore the more your app downloads from the stores there is an increase in the app store cost. When it comes to payout the google store is more frequent than the apple store. Google store provides the payout within a few days after the end of the month. On the other hand, the Apple store takes 30 days for the payouts. 

3) Server Hosting Fees

You might have a backend server database for your app. The server hosting fees depend upon data usage and activities performed in your mobile app. Generally, companies use Amazon AWS, Azure and other cloud-based hosting services. If you use the database provided by AWS like Dynamo DB or AWS Relational database, your cost may be higher. When you use database service provided by AWS/Azure they will charge you based upon how many tables you create and the read/write capacity of the tables.  If you use the open-source database like MySQL on EC2 servers, the cost will be less. They also charge you based upon how many calls you make to the server. Other cost that you have to consider is the cost to store media files like video, audio, images and PDF documents. AWS has S3 storage services for media file which is very inexpensive. Once you launch your app and have users, you will get an idea of the hosting fees. Many of our startup clients pay in the range of $20-$60 a month for server hosting services. If you pay $100 a month that means you have a lot of active users and your app has got good traction in the market.  The server fees are month to month basis, it is not an annual contract. 

4) Data Backup 

Data backup is also a considerable thing in app maintenance. You can backup your app data manually or ask the cloud provider to restore and data backup. You should perform the data backup task regularly. This is helpful at the time when you lose your data due to some issues, then you can easily recover the data. The data backup comes handy in the situation when someone hacked in your system and try to erase the data. The cost of data backup is not much with cloud service providers. AWS charges roughly $1 a month to backup 20 GB of data. 

5) Analytics

Most of the apps launched in the store have some analytical tools in it to capture more data about user behavior. You can find several analytical tools which are free like Flurry, Apsalar or google analytics. There are paid analytics tools which will charge you monthly fees to use. Depending upon what you decide to use, you should consider the cost associated with it.

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