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It's possible to publish daily updates for your application on Google's Android Market, but I have an assumption that users don't like to get frequent updates. How can I determine when I should publish updates? Is there an optimum interval to balance between delivering new features and bug fixes while not upsetting my user base?

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I'm voting to re-open, since I couldn't find a duplicate. I think it's constructive to ask about how frequently users can or will tolerate updates, and I think such a question applies to much more than the Android Market, but to all software. –  Thomas Owens Oct 5 '11 at 19:33
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I agree with Thomas - how often to update software is a valid question. –  Michael K Oct 5 '11 at 19:52
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Updates for what? Who is your target audience? What are you updating? Do you have business requirements that necessitate an update schedule? What is the substance of the updates? This question is way too broad as is. –  user8 Oct 5 '11 at 20:08
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@AnnaLear Even granting that, the proposed revisions are to make this about updates in general. But even for the mobile app use-case, any optimum interval proposed would, for example, be useless if there are security updates required or a business use-case (like a marketing campaign). It's like asking what language you should learn: in a fictional world where there are no confounding factors, there might be an answer. But otherwise, there are too many outside factors that dictate such things. –  user8 Oct 5 '11 at 20:15
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@MarkTrapp Granted, but there's definitely value in enumerating some or all of those factors for a typical, status-quo case. Severity/substance of the updates is certainly one such factor. Obviously if your app is bricking phones or something otherwise major (I'm looking at you, HTC) most normal considerations go out the window. –  Anna Lear Oct 5 '11 at 20:23

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

While there can't some general best frequency for updates, here are some factors that you should look at when making your decision:

  • Severity of the update. Fixes for critical bugs and security vulnerabilities should of course be pushed out as soon as possible. But if you only have minor changes, you might want to wait until you collected a few of those.

  • User expectations. If the users expect updates bringing major enhancements, you might not want to push the same kind of update just to fix a typo. :-)

  • Ease of applying the update. If the update applies itself in the background without needing any user interaction, I doubt anybody would mind frequent updates. If OTOH applying an update requires several interaction steps by the user, thus interrupting his workflow, frequent updates are quite annoying. E.g. almost every time I use NeoOffice, it tells me there is a new version available. But I would have to download and install it manually, taking me away from my original task. So I rarely updated, but was still annoyed every time.

  • Likelihood to break something else with the update. If there are external plugins/extensions/whatever depending on you application, they should be aware and be able to depend on your update schedule. They also should have enough time to adjust to the changes you made before the update is applied. E.g. when Firefox recently changed to a more rapid update cycle, it broke many of the less-maintained extensions, because the developers couldn't keep up with the rapidly changing version numbers.

  • Dependence on external factors/libraries/APIs/.... If the update depends on changes of external libraries, APIs, or (as Manfred Moser said) a server side application, you'll have to wait until those are finished.

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In my personal opinion anything that improves something for the user is worth a release. Especially with automatic updates and potentially updates only on wifi this is not disrupting to users imho.

Of course other factors will influence your release schedule as well. E.g. if your marketing team is still stuck in the old release habit with lots of features you might need to accumulate some for a marketable release.

Or if you are working with a server side application you might be tied to it updating as well.

So overall the answer probably is "It depends;-)" but more often is better. E.g. also consider upgrades to websites/webapplications like gmail or twitter.. many of these get daily updates..

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