Understanding Mobile Event App Updates

Posted by Matt Milloway on Jul 18, 2014

The majority of event apps require new graphics and content at least once a year to correlate with annual conferences and meetings. While the workflow to ready app material from one year to the next is very similar, understanding the technical aspect behind updating an event app and what it means for both the event organizer and end users is necessary in planning internal logistics and communicating with attendees before each event.

Preparing New Content

Updates to content are expected for every event and significant app refreshes are best managed through one of two ways:

1) For clients providing content via a third-party content management system, simply sharing new data feeds with sufficient lead time enables the development team to manipulate the updated data for inclusion in the mobile application. Assuming the event app is in its second year or beyond and the third-party CMS remains unchanged, familiarity with the content’s structure typically means less work is involved to propagate new data for app updates.

2) Alternatively, clients using a mobile application development company’s own CMS to enter data, such as the AppBurst Dashboard, typically receive a new area each year to enter content. For instance, year two of the event is created as Version 2.0 in the CMS, while Version 1.0, or the original app, remains untouched. The benefits of this approach include being able to use the previous year’s version as a reference point, avoiding the trouble of manually deleting old content, and ensuring end-users do not experience an interruption in receiving app content. 

Submission Process

Once significant edits to app content are made for a new event, the best method to roll out the update to end-users is through a resubmission of the app to the AppStore and Google Play. Prior to submission to both app stores, clients receive an updated test app with new content and graphics. Not visible to end users, the test app enables clients to check their work and make change requests, ensuring the app is accurate before proceeding -- much like the test app phase of the initial development process. 

While minor content edits (i.e. small adjustments to the agenda) may not warrant an official app update through the app stores, an important consideration when planning any updates to an event app is the fact Apple requires a resubmission for changes to the app icon or primary splash screen. Branding changes from year to year, or even multiple times in the same year, need to be made with sufficient time to resubmit the app for approval in the AppStore, regardless of content changes or lack thereof.

The End-User Experience

After the app update is resubmitted to the app stores, most attendees experience a seamless transition from one year’s app version to the next. Old content and graphics will remain on a user’s device until the new app is approved in the AppStore and Google Play, at which point they will be prompted to download an app update. For the majority of iOS users running iOS 7 and many Android users, updates are triggered automatically and result in the user receiving the update without any additional effort on his or her part. Others will simply need to download the update once prompted, an action these users must also perform when updating other apps on their device.

With knowledge of the app update process and proper planning, changing content from one event to the next turns into a simple process for event planners and pain free experience for attendees.

For details on AppBurst's mobile event apps: