How I do it: Updating apps on Android

There was a time, many, many years ago, when an update to a software I’m using was the most exciting thing ever. We’d run around and exchange floppy disks and then CDs just to get our hands on the latest. This was a time when there were no mobile apps, no app stores and the internet was just becoming mainstream.

Today, an app update notification is infuriating enough to make me want to smash my phone or, at the very least, uninstall that app. But neither of those is an option, so I’ve begun to use this ‘system’ over the past few years that helps me deal with this overload of updates.

First, I turn off automatic app updates. I think this is one of the worst things Google (and, well, Apple) has done. It’s discomforting to get your existing, working application(s) be replaced without knowledge by new ones, because they could be completely different and confusing, they could actually have less features, or maybe I just haven’t used a particular app in so long, it doesn’t matter if I have the latest version or not (eg. Facebook). Also, I have at least three Android devices, so all the common apps would get updated three times. And that’s not even counting the devices belonging to other members of the family. And all the desktops and laptops. You’re now getting an idea of what I’m going through.

With automatic updates turned off, they’re not getting downloaded automatically and eating into my home internet FUP quota, but I still get notifications of new updates. I’d love to do away with that, but I’m presently not willing to completely be in the dark about it.

One way I go about this is only manually updating apps I really am excited to use new versions of (eg. Tapet, QuickPic, WhatsApp, Play Newsstand). I ignore the others which I don’t use (eg. Google+). This saves some bandwidth and I know I’m getting the latest and greatest of my favoritest apps.

Another way I’ve done it in the past is to check the actual release notes to see if there’s actually anything really new or if it’s just a bugfix. If I’ve not personally encountered an issue with an app, I don’t see the reason to download a 20-50mb new, bug-fixed version. If I face a problem at a later stage, I can always upgrade then. This doesn’t, however, work with apps by stupid developers like the ones at Twitter, who push out updates almost weekly, but leave the release notes empty. Some developers at least make an attempt—albeit half-hearted—to just say ‘bug fix’. I don’t even know why Google allows empty release notes. I mean, if there’s nothing new to mention, then why are you even pushing an update? Occasionally, you’ll find an exclamation-laden line that boasts of a completely new interface or new/old Android version support. Those, I’ll go ahead with. I love the smell of good, real, actual updates in the morning.

The problem with the above method is that it still means that only the apps I use on a regular basis and/or my favorite apps get updated and the rest lag behind. That’s why, there’s another method I’m trying these days.

The third way I deal with updates is to update them daily in an alphabetical order according to the date. Trust me, there was no simpler way I could have framed that sentence. What it means is that I update the apps that start with the letter corresponding to the number of the alphabet, the number being the date. No, that’s still confusing. I mean that I update apps beginning with the letter ‘A’ (eg. Authy) on the 1st of every month, the letter ‘B’ (eg. BookMyShow) on the 2nd of the month and so on. The dates between 27th-31st are ‘free’ dates, so I can update any app I feel like and/or apps that have names beginning with numbers (eg. 9gag).

This whole waste of time would be avoided if delta app updates (only downloading patches instead of the whole app) were actually happening. I remember them saying they’re starting to do it, but I’m still being asked to download 20-50mb for a simple fucking spelling mistake bug fix.


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