iOS vs Android App Update Management Insights

ueaccpThere’s a new research paper (pdf) from the University of East Anglia and the Centre for Competition Policy on affect of the frequency of app updates on boosting downloads across the App Store and Play Store.

A conclusion is that, on both the App store and Google Play, app updates are released with an extremely high average frequency of every 28 days for Google and every 59 days for Apple. However…

“The release of an update positively affects downloads in iTunes while it has no significant impact in Google Play”

The paper mentions “divergent regulations on the publication of apps” and “the absence of a strict quality check” as to partially explain the differences. The paper also mentions that fixing app problems due to device fragmentation might also be contributing to more updates on Android.

Looking from a developer viewpoint, having worked with multiple clients that tend to release both iOS and Android apps, yes, I can see the Apple review process does slow down the frequency of releases on the App Store. Yes, device problems often cause Android apps to have to be re-released. However, while the adding of features might improve downloads, on both platforms this doesn’t tend to be the reason for releases. Instead it tends to be to re-design, fix or add new features rather than to expressly try to cause new downloads. The study only looked into the top 1000 apps so maybe there’s some learnings there for my clients and the huge long tail of other apps.

As the paper says “to continue growth you need to provide constant value” to the end user.