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My app update process

November 6, 2012


You might think doing an app update is primarily about the coding and testing. This post summarises the many steps I have to take between being “finished” and you getting an “update available” message from iTunes.

1. Documentation. Primarily this involves editing the built in User Guide, which is an HTML document. I also need to write the What’s New section for iTunes, which I also include in the User Guide (since many people miss this when updating).

2. Each update requires a new version number, so this needs to be updated in the app itself. Also if it is the first update of the year, I update the copyright notice.

3. Since the version number is shown on the application launch images (the brief image that is displayed when you launch the app), these need to be re-generated. Each app now has 7 launch images: portrait mode on the iPad (retina and non-retina); landscape mode on the iPad (retina and non-retina); the old iPhone/iPod Touch (retina and non-retina); finally the new iPhone/iPod Touch (retina only). I tend to use OmniGraffle to produce these.

4. Build the app for submission to Apple. This takes perhaps 30-60 seconds! 🙂

5. If I have changed something visual, I need to take new screenshots for iTunes. Since you can include up to 5 images, this involves taking 15 screenshots in total: 5 for the iPad (retina only), 5 for the old iPhone/iPod Touch (retina only) and 5 for the new iPhone/iPod Touch (retina only). Screenshots are taken by pressing the Home and Power buttons at the same time, and the resulting images are then trimmed to remove the status bar at the top of the screen.

6. I also take new screenshots for my website, typically in the order of 15-30 of them per app. I tend to use an “old” iPhone 4 for this, however I then have to resize each image down to 50% as the retina images are too big for the web.

7. Apple has a website called iTunes Connect where developers can manage their apps. I add the new app version, paste in the What’s New text and upload the 15 iTunes images (which can take ages). I can then submit the app for approval.

8. Despite some early horror stories, the approval process has always been very fair (IMHO). Typically apps are approved in around 5-10 days.

9. Finally once I get notified it has been approved, I upload all the screenshots to my website, update the text on my website and then officially release the new version. Phew!

10. For apps like Account Tracker, all of the above is repeated for the Free version. I also use separate screenshots for the US ($) vs the rest of the world (where I use £). As you can imagine, there are a LOT of images to upload (60 to iTunes in total, uploaded one at a time).

So next time you update one of my apps, now you know what I went through!

  1. Gus Neil
    November 28, 2012 at 8:38 am

    What wonderful insight into a seemingly simple process. I obviously knew there was work involved in updating an app but never realised the full extent.

    Looking forward to those updates !!

  2. richardnewton572
    November 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Hi Graham,

    I received your article about all tge background stuff you have to do every time you update an App and found it fascinating insight that much if the headache lies in all the peripheral business.

    Did you copy that review I posted for you? Perhaps you would send it back to me because I can use that as a basis for future reviews when I think it is time to congratulate you again!

    Meanwhile, you no doubt have a record of previous suggestions and ideas I have put your way in the past. My latest thoughts are not so much about what more you can do to tweak the current apps (Account Tracker in particular), but more about new extended or added functionalities. I guess you will reach a point where you might like to consider those ideas I have proposed already, such as a module in Account Tracker that allows one to check debit or credit balance interest rates.

    I have just caught LLOYDSTSB underpaying Vantage customers who upgraded their accounts for extra interest. Lloyds have not told their customers they have made this mistake and claimed to NE it is a system error they are working through. So that is it then. Everyone either believes that if they suspected they were underpaid or they go oblivious of it and perhaps without challenge may remain underpaid.

    Most people borrowing money would like to know they are being charged correctly, but how might an individual be expected to make running calculations manually on their overdraft every time their is a change in the balance and for n days etc.

    I had thought an interest calculating module might tickle your fancy at some point. The product needs a way to evolve into the future and with more extras I think it can do that. This is not to say the App grows inadequate with age; of course not, but to provide changing scenery and options to keep a growing user base interested, these kind of things are potentially powerful as revenue boosters, as in-app purchases. I have an idea for two or three in-app functionality extensions.

    For now I think you must be feeling fairly comfortable with the growing revenues and the fact their is no-one out there who dares be a challenger, but let me know if uou’d like to explore that uses for Account Tracker in future. I have more ideas like that.


    Richard Newton Intelligent Reviews

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    • November 10, 2012 at 10:04 am

      Hi Richard, you should be able to get your review text simply by trying to write a new review. Your old one will then be shown for editing … etc. If ever I get past syncing and my Mac version, I will be in touch. 🙂

  3. Malcolm Goodman
    November 7, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Well done  – its still a gre

  4. Diane Turner
    November 6, 2012 at 11:27 pm


  5. Mark Lomas
    November 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    y Its much appreciated Graham your app is the best on itunes by far


    Graham posted: “You might think doing an app update is primarily about the coding and testing. This post summarises the many steps I have to take between being “finished” and you getting an “update available” message from iTunes.

    1. Documentation. Primarily this invo”

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