Have you decided to build a mobile app to support your customers, employees, or audience? Got the quote to build it? Great.
Before proceeding, make sure you consider a budget for the less visible items that inevitably crop up after the app has been created. These are ongoing maintenance costs that are often not at the top of your mind during the excitement of having your new app created. While none of them are very expensive, in aggregate they add up to an amount that you should be prepared for.
1. iOS Developer Account
An Apple Developer account is required if you want to publish and distribute an app in the App Store under your name. This is a $99 USD annual fee that must be renewed each year. Without membership in this program you’ll need to rely on your app developer to publish your app, and it will appear listed in the App Store with their name as the developer instead of yours.
If you are selling your app or have in-app purchases this is an absolute must.
2. Platform updates
Both Android and iOS come out with regular updates to the software running on your phone and tablet. Normally your application will continue to run with no issues. However, the next time you want to make a change to your app there may be additional work required to ensure the app meets any requirements of the new platform. The App Store and Google Play may reject your updated app if these changes are not made.
3. Form factor support
“Form factor” is the technical term for newer, bigger phones and tablets. A well designed app should account for varying sizes of devices automatically, but there will be instances when some customization is needed. For example, the iPhone 6 Plus was a completely new size that bridged the gap between the iPhone and iPad dimensions. Android apps do tend to require more work in this area due to the huge number of devices and screen sizes continually coming out.
4. Social network updates
If you make use of social networks in your app there are often updates and even breaking changes made which will require updates to your app. Twitter and Facebook, as well as any other network you use, are continually changing and enhancing their features and sometimes they have to break things to move forward. Over a period of years it is almost a certainty that you will need to update your app to make use of their latest standards.
5. Development tool updates
Depending on whether you have built a native or a hybrid app, you may find there is time required to bring your app up to date with the latest tools used to build it. Hybrid apps typically make use of more tools, libraries, and frameworks, so you should account for time to bring your app up to date with the newer versions. These changes typically are required when you want to make changes to your existing app and find that the tools used are no longer supported.
We recommend that you take a close look at which maintenance items may impact your app and budget for them. The mobile app industry is still rapidly changing with new devices and new software updates arriving at a furious pace. Be sure to have a plan to stay current with the latest features so your app is relevant and functional for the long term.