AppStore: Timing Your iOS App Updates

AppStore: Timing Your iOS App Updates

There has been some preconceived notion that timing updates on a regular frequency boosts your rank in the Apple iOS AppStore, it doesn’t. In fact stale apps far out rank apps that have regular app updates, and of course the flip side to that statement is also true. So what drives rank?

Rank & Downloads & Updates

So if update frequency doesn’t play a part in a good rank then what does? Well from what I can see and what I have read largely is reviews score combined with recent installs activity; that’s installs, not updates. If updates had any correlation to app store rank you would see a ranking system that would be all over the place and also dominated by the heavy hitters, regardless of their review score. No, it’s much more than that.

Review Scores

The magic comes down the review scores. Review scores are what attracts users. When users get attracted to an app with a high review score, they will install it. They may uninstall it later, or compare the app with other apps they have but we’ll talk about that a bit later as to the effect of that. So as more people install your app the higher you climb up the rank ladder. Combine that with a high review score and high download counts you should be up the top of the list.

Does releasing an update have any effect on this? If my app is 5 star, and I am getting great downloads, why should I release an update, and when should I not release an update?

What Releasing an Update will do

Releasing an update is good. You need to keep your app competitive in the market place otherwise your offerings will become less attractive and you will fall down the rank purely on lack of downloads as your competitors are wiping the floor with you because they have all the features the market is after. When you release an app however this clears your current app star rating, effectively knocking out the stars visible to your customers. This is devastating to someone with a 5 star rating as it appears that no one has reviewed your app yet to someone unfamiliar with the app store history. So what would a user pick, your app with no stars, or the person above with a 5 star rating. Your competitor’s downloads go up and they climb up even further.

What Not Releasing Will Do

You can’t leave your app to go stale. Updating is inevitable. If you leave your app for too long, in a competitive market, you will face being overtaken and bad reviews will start trickling in. However this doesn’t apply to all apps. Tiny Wings for example has had barely any updates and it is still going strong. However if you are competing neck and neck with other apps, the feature race is on, leaving your app out with a 5 star will not last for long.

The Magnet of A High Rating

So we know that pushing an update up wipes our current review score. But what does leaving an app out do with a high rating. Well studies have shown that apps with higher ratings tend to get more frequency of ratings, in that, if you have a highly rated app, your app will get rated more than someone not rated as highly. This is the goal. To have a high rated app, that self perpetuates in success and in turn climbs the ranks of the app store also achieving more downloads!

Timing is everything

So there are two conflicting sides to this story. Keep an app out there that is succeeding, yet don’t go stale. So there is a balance to be achieved. The key to this being ensure you are delivering value each release. If you deliver value your ratings will come back almost instantly and potentially boost your ranking even higher. Do not push updates that deliver no value. What you are doing there is in effect wiping your ratings out and making users waste their data. It’s a recipe for bad reviews and you sinking in the app store.

Fix the bugs quickly

One other thing to keep in mind is that bad review hurt. They hurt bad. I read that 52% of all 1 star ratings were due to performance issues. That being app crashes, slow performance, battery drains etc. People are extremely vocal about this. It makes sense. If your app crashes they get taken to the home screen, they’re annoyed. Their next step is to open the app store, and on the very same page they left off, rate you a 1. So fix the bugs immediately and solve the major ones in one hit. People should respond positively that you have listened to them and be rewarded with some high ratings.


Provide value in your app updates, otherwise you’re just doing yourself and your customers a disservice.

Posted by voidet

Categorised under ios
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