App creators will get their chance to unveil updated versions of their apps for iOS 9 and watchOS today and Android 6.0 later this fall. Though the amount of effort needed to prepare your app for the latest OS releases varies, it's almost always worth it. By updating your app for iOS 9, Android 6.0, and other OS releases, you're improving your chances of being featured, as well as retaining valuable customers, attracting new users, and flexing your own developer skills to take advantage of new technologies. Read on to learn more about how updating your app to support new OS updates by launch day itself is worth the effort.
Get Your App Featured by Apple or Google
Updating your app to use new technology offers a great opportunity for being featured in app stores. Featured apps are a very small subset of apps that are handpicked by Apple and Google. When Apple and Google launch a new OS, they look to show off apps that take advantage of new technologies offered to developers through their new operating systems. The apps featured in app stores are a reflection of the hard work Apple and Google put into creating these new technologies. They're also indicative of their promise to provide new technologies and new opportunities for developers and users.
Why is being featured by Apple or Google so important? Winning that coveted featured spot, particularly in Apple's App Store, helps increase your app store visibility, often resulting in an increase in user downloads. Just as important, a featured app is an app that's won Apple or Google's stamp of approval. Startup founder John Saddington, for example, describes the surprise and immense sense of validation he felt when his app, Pressgram, was featured by Apple in the “Best New Apps” section of the App Store. This is impressive not only to existing users but potential customers and even future investors as well. Who knows, you might end up featured outside of the app stores too. Imagine our surprise when we saw our Agenda app featured in an Apple keynote.
Reap the Press Benefits
Apple and Google aren't the only ones interested in highlighting updated apps. MacStories, iMore, The Verge, and other media outlets often mention updated apps. Some even run larger profile stories on apps that take advantage of new operating system tech. Last year, for example, MacStories ran a roundup and full reviews of updated iOS 8 apps. An updated app appeals to reporters because it makes it easy for media to connect it to the bigger story, the launch of the new operating system.
Similar to Apple and Google features, press attention drives interest in your app and can spur user downloads. While it may push downloads higher temporarily, it isn't a good long-term strategy. Significant OS updates roll out about once a year and there's no guarantee that your updated app will be a media darling every time. You need to cultivate a satisfied user base to keep the long-term health of your app. That's why it's so important to...
Improve the Customer Experience
Ensuring that customers have the best experience possible with your app is by far the most essential reason to update it for launch day. Customers should always be the focus of your app. That doesn't stop after your app's initial launch. Their retention, reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations are the sustaining factor in your app's growth and survival. And nothing irritates a user more than updating their device's OS and finding the app they've used for so long no longer works.
A new OS also provides an opportunity to improve on your app, by offering new design or functionality for customers. While not every app would make sense for the Apple Watch, for example, some apps can elevate their customers' user experience by leveraging the new watchOS SDK. By improving your app's customer experience, you're making sure that existing customers remain interested and satisfied with your app as well as attracting new users with added or enhanced functionality and design.
Enjoy Working with New Tech and Resources
Admit it, it's just plain fun and exciting to work with new technology. There are a lot of cool new things to take advantage of with iOS 9 and Android 6.0. Users will have new iPad multitasking features like adjustable split view, multi-app multi-touch, and fully interactive Slide Overs. This makes it even more important for developers to build apps with adaptive user interfaces by leveraging frameworks like auto layout and dynamic type. Mentioned earlier, the new watchOS brings native apps to the Apple Watch, allowing developers to move app logic that was previously stored on the iPhone to the Watch, improving performance and responsiveness.
While Android's big update this year is a stability release, there’s still a few new interesting items like the new Android permissions model we originally mentioned in our Google I/O recap. You can read further details about that change on the official Android Developers Blog. Google also has a post on getting apps ready for Marshmallow.
Every year, major OS releases give app creators an opportunity to show how their skills and imagination can leverage new technologies to better serve users. Beyond increasing your chances of publicity, improving the user experience, and playing with cool new functionality, updating your app means you at least stay relevant in an ever-changing, competitive app store atmosphere.
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