Advice on handling mobile app updates

Hello, dear Ionic lovers,

I’m a junior frontend dev, working for the very first time on a small Ionic 6 + React + Capacitor 3 project (web + Android + IOS app), which makes me a newbie in most things mobile & Ionic related.

I’m currently preparing to submit the mobile builds for validation on the Google and IOS app stores and I’m trying to make sure this final build will cover all things needed both for updating from the app’s old version to this new, major one, and for any future minor app updates or patches.

I’ve been researching how to best handle the mobile app updates and I’ve already implemented a version check, pointing mobile app users to a page that asks them to update the app to the newest available version (with a direct link to the respective app store).

Other than this, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do a silent / background auto-update the mobile apps before the user opens it and is pointed to the new version available screen. I know that this should be possible, but do all mobile apps have the possibility to be auto-updated, if the user’s phone settings allow it, or do I need to add some extra logic / Android Studio or Xcode setup or a Capacitor plugin for this to work? If I do, could you recommend a specific plugin to use, given my above mentioned setup? Will it also work on IOS?

I’ve read a little bit about some Cordova plugins like App Update or Code Push, but I’m not sure they’re still ok to use with Capacitor 3. I’ve also read about AppFlow, but I’m very discouraged by the fact that it’s paid :face_holding_back_tears: . Do you know of any other free/open source alternatives?

Has anyone been trying to figure these things out as well? How did you manage them in your own projects?

Many, many thanks,
Andreea :beers:

Hey Andreea, welcome :blush:

I know you asked for free solutions, but let me say you something: Ionic Appflow is amazing! It also has a priving for indies: Indies & Startups

If you really don’t want to pay it, i would leave the functionality out for now and just update the app via store updates

Besides @EinfachHans advice - maybe check Is there any free alternative to Code-Push

as @Tommertom mentioned – there is an alternative with code-push. But they are closing shop sometime soon. Although there is a way to keep using code push by using your own server, this step would be difficult for a junior dev to accomplish.

I personally use appflow. Very easy to use and the $50 is not expensive for all they offer.


There’s a discussion of OTA (over the air) update solutions in capacitor community proposals.

That discussion references the capacitor-updater plugin, which allows you to self-host (via S3, your own webserver, etc.) your updates without relying on something like code-push.

Disclaimer: I haven’t actually implemented this; it’s just on my list of things to check out sometime.