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Your questions about app maintenance answered

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Mobile app development never really stops. The day your app is released, the software development stage gives way to the maintenance stage. The work on your project resumes with new vigor without letting you take a breath between the two stages. Therefore, it’s better to estimate how much it will cost to maintain your app and plan for an appropriate budget early.

Coming up with a budget for mobile app maintenance is tricky because you have to consider many variables that are often at odds with each other. To help you cope with the task, in this article we go through frequent questions about mobile application maintenance. Read on to clear things up and get prepared.

1. Why should you care about your app maintenance?

Your app might not require any major enhancements or bug fixes right after release. Yet, the mobile business landscape and technologies evolve fast. It may happen that the next new trend in UI design makes your app look obsolete. Another update of the mobile operating system or the integrated third-party service may cause your app to stop working. To handle any possible issues timely and effectively, you should secure an app maintenance agreement and budget as soon as your app is released.

2. What to include in your app maintenance plan?

The scope and cost of app maintenance will depend on your business goals, the quality of your app code, and available resources. At a minimum, you should plan for emergency bug fixing, backups and security management, and yearly OS and tech stack updates. If you have enough funds to devote to maintenance, you can plan for frequent and regular app updates that will include: new features, design enhancements, and performance improvements.

3. How much does it cost to maintain an app?

During the first year after launch, your costs of maintaining an app can make as much as 50% of the initial app development cost. This may happen due to the numerous improvements you might want to introduce in response to your users’ feedback. Later on, your yearly budget for app maintenance would make 15% to 20% of the initial cost. Keep in mind that your app will need maintenance as long as it exists. Moreover, if your app stands the test of time, in several years you might end up rewriting it from scratch using completely new programming languages and technologies.

4. Who offers app maintenance and support services?

You can outsource mobile app maintenance services from the same app development company or contractor who created your app. Software development agencies usually offer several maintenance plans that differ by the scope and price. You also can hire a freelance software maintenance specialist who’ll work for you part-time or introduce fixes and changes upon your request.

5. How do you pay for app maintenance?

It depends on whether you hire a dedicated developer or buy a maintenance plan from an agency. For example, you can hire a freelance developer via a talent network, such as You’ll agree on the scope of work and approximate time per month they’ll dedicate to your app. In this case, you’ll be billed monthly for the actual number of hours the developer spent to get the job done. Yet, if you sign a maintenance agreement with an app agency, you’ll most probably pay a fixed price for their services quarterly or yearly in advance.

6. What else should you pay to keep your app running?

Apart from paying your app maintenance specialist, you’ll have to cover additional one-time and recurring costs. For example, publishing your app on the Google Play store will cost you a one-time fee of $25. Having your app listed on the Apple App Store will cost you $99 per year. You’ll also pay annual fees for cloud hosting for your app backend. Moreover, if you integrate your app with third-party services, such as payment gateways, or implement someone else's licensed technology, you’ll have to pay to use them too.

7. Which app has a higher maintenance cost native or hybrid?

There's no simple answer to this question. A native app has to meet the requirements of only one platform and has fewer chances for bugs to appear. Therefore, native apps are easier to maintain than hybrid or cross-platform. Yet, it means that you have to hire two app maintenance specialists or teams to introduce enhancements in your iOs and Android apps. In contrast, when maintaining a hybrid or a cross-platform app you have one specialist or team that adapts your app to changes in both iOS and Android. Although this work is more complex and updates are more frequent, it still may cost you less than maintaining two apps.

8. How often should you adapt your app to new OS versions?

iOS and Android get updated approximately once a year. After another update, some features of your app may stop performing as expected or break. To prevent this you’ll need to do some adaptive maintenance before every new OS version release. Apple and Google make OS beta versions available for developers several months prior to pushing updates to people’s smartphones. If your maintenance specialist monitors the market, they’ll have enough time to adapt your app to the new OS version.

9. Can app stores delist your app if you don't update it?

Both Apple and Google have procedures for ongoing evaluation of apps available in their stores. Moderators remove apps that haven’t updated for a long time and no longer function as intended. They also can flag your app if it doesn't comply with the latest review guidelines. In case of some issues, you’ll receive a notice and have 30 days to make the necessary changes. Yet, if for some reason your app crashes on launch, it will be removed from the store immediately.

10. How often should you update your app?

Successful apps get updated at least once a month including both bug fixes and new feature releases. The frequency of your app updates will depend on the number of feature requests and bug reports from users as well as the resource of your software maintenance team. Every update you make should get approval from Google Play Store or Apple App Store before it becomes available to users. Therefore it’s better to batch several new features and bug fixes in one release than to push frequent small updates. With this approach, your release notes will be more informative and worthy of your users’ attention.

11. What increases your app maintenance costs?

The quality of your app code will affect your maintenance cost a lot. Keep in mind that every shortcut you take during development will add up to your maintenance budget. The same applies to third-party integrations. Although they allow for faster and cheaper development, their dependency adds complexity and expense to the maintenance.

12. How do you reduce the cost of maintaining your app?

A good way to optimize your app maintenance cost is to follow the lean startup approach during product development. Just accept the fact that your app will never feel complete. There will always be one more thing you want to add. You should resist that impulse. If you start with a minimum viable product (MVP) that includes only the most valuable features, you’ll free yourself from maintaining redundant functionality.

If you have more questions about software maintenance cost, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to give a free-of-charge consultation as well as help you find a reliable freelance developer to maintain and enhance your app. On you can hire top-notch talent at rates starting from €31.90/h. Let’s discuss your current needs or future plans and find a developer who’ll take care of your app.

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