This is the second most common question we get from partners looking to build an app after "How much does it cost to build a mobile app?".
Those of you who don't want to read the rest of this article it typically takes around 3-4 months to build something ready to put into the mobile app stores.
Smaller projects can be completed in just a few weeks. We designed and launched an app that achieved over 350,000 installs in only two days, but that isn't the norm. Larger projects can often exceed six months, with some taking longer than a year to develop.
What makes a mobile app take longer to build?
Below we'll outline several key components that can lengthen or shorten the time it takes to build your mobile app.
The technology used to make the app
Typically, most people launching a mobile app want to put it on both the iOS and Android app stores. This gives them the most exposure to the mobile markets in 2021. You'll reach the most customers by doing this.
Targeting both stores does come at a cost in terms of price and time though, because you're now launching two different codebases for your apps. Both of which require development from potentially two different app developers as the programming languages needed to build them are different.
We've seen before that Android can sometimes be slower to build for. This makes logical sense because of the vast amounts of different phone hardware and operating systems on Android. iOS is much more simple, with just a handful of phones and user base, which will often upgrade to the operating system's latest version.
In 2021, we're blessed with some useful cross-platform mobile app technologies that allow one developer to build both the Android and iOS app simultaneously, using platforms such as Flutter or React. This can help reduce the amount of time taken as you're creating two versions at once.
For some apps using complex features or native APIs, this isn't possible, which brings us to the next point...
The complexity of the mobile app
Like most things in life, the more complex something is, the longer it takes to build; mobile apps are no different.
If you're relying on complex APIs, have complicated features and requirements, it will take longer to build.
We recommend ensuring you're only working on features your customers want by validating your app idea before you spend too much time and money building them.
The design quality of the app
While you can have technical complexity, you can also have design complexity.
A custom UI not relying on native design traits will often take longer to build as it's unique. Also, complex animations and transitions will increase the time taken to design, showcase and create in your app.
We're suckers for a good experience, so we much prefer building something custom and unique, but if your app is simple, look to rely on those native design frameworks to reduce the time taken to develop your app.
The experience of the team building the app
If we were given a pound/dollar (insert any currency you like here) every time we've built that a potential partners nieces cousin could make them an app in 1 week for almost nothing, we'd be extremely well off. If you then gave us another pound/dollar for every time that's gone on to be a colossal mistake, we'd be twice as rich.
There is a fine line between experience and faking it until you make it. However, experienced mobile app developers have the skills and knowledge to navigate complex issues in design, code, and app store submission requirements. Who wants to build an app, only to be told that you can't even submit to the app store because it breaks a bunch of guidelines?
Finding an app developer or mobile app agency with the right amount of experience will help you save time building your app. By making the wrong choice, you could quickly be extending out the time taken to launch.
How we can help
We're an experienced mobile app development agency focusing on Native iOS and Android applications.
If you'd like any help scoping out your project, developing your apps or require some advice, get in touch, and we'll be delighted to help you.