On the evolution of mobile app complexity

Jun Gao, Li Li, Tegawende F. Bissyande, Jacques Klein

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Android developers are known to frequently update their apps for fixing bugs and addressing vulnerabilities, but more commonly for introducing new features. This process leads a trail in the ecosystem with multiple successive app versions which record historical evolutions of a variety of apps. While the literature includes various works related to such evolutions, little attention has been paid to the research question on how quality evolves, in particular with regards to maintainability and code complexity. In this work, we fill this gap by presenting a large-scale empirical study: we leverage the AndroZoo dataset to obtain a significant number of app lineages (i.e., successive releases of the same Android apps), and rely on six well-established, maintainability-related complexity metrics commonly accepted in the literature on app quality, maintainability etc. Our empirical investigation eventually reveals that, overall, while Android apps become bigger in terms of code size as time goes by, the apps themselves appear to be increasingly maintainable and thus decreasingly complex.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2019 24th International Conference on Engineering of Complex Computer Systems, ICECCS 2019
EditorsJing Sun, Jun Pang
Place of PublicationPiscataway NJ USA
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781728146461
ISBN (Print)9781728146478
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventIEEE International Conference on Engineering of Complex Computer Systems 2019 - Guangzhou, China
Duration: 10 Nov 201913 Nov 2019
Conference number: 24th
https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/conhome/8871108/proceeding (Proceedings)
https://www.formal-analysis.com/iceccs/2019/ (Website)


ConferenceIEEE International Conference on Engineering of Complex Computer Systems 2019
Abbreviated titleICECCS 2019
Internet address


  • Android
  • Complex
  • Evolution

Cite this