How Much Time does it take to Develop an iPhone App?

December 1, 2012

Impiger Technologies

How Much Time does it take to Develop an iPhone App?

Want to develop an iPhone app? Here’s a reference on how long it takes to create an iPhone app. This should indicate clearly the time to develop iPhone apps of different types.

One of the top queries that companies and individuals have when it come to developing an iPhone application is, ‘how long does it take?’. This depends on a number of factors and Eleviant Tech explains them one by one.

Note: iPhone game development is very different from generic app development and therefore we’re not talking about game apps in this article.

The Scope of the Project

If it’s a simple app with just 5 screens and no integration to a web site, payment gateway or CRM, then it can be done in a few days. In case of a complex app for a large retailer that involves database, payment, social media integration and hundreds of product information, reviews, demo videos etc, development could take a few months. Features, technology complexity, interfaces, backend integrations can all vary the development times.

Design and Graphics

Generally if the app requirement is graphics intensive as in a game, it takes longer to build the app. Graphics and design heavy applications need plenty of time for conceptualization and execution.
3D animation, for example, could take weeks to develop. Unlike web designers, good iPhone designers are hard to find, and their costs are going up all the time.

Since the user experience and design are what users interact with on the application, it’s imperative to work with a quality team on these aspects. So we suggest you never compromise on these.

Requirements Documentation Affects Time
Companies that have internal IT teams are pretty good at gathering their iPhone app requirements and documenting them, while smaller companies need help to do this.

At times, it may surprise you, some individuals can’t articulate what their app needs to do. It takes some effort and cost to help them document the app idea.

Once the scope of work, requirements and milestones are put down in a Statement of Work (SOW), then it’s easy to work with the development team to move forward.

Integration with Third Party Systems
Complex apps will talk to a company’s database, pull information and spit it out for app users. Sometimes an iPhone app may be integrated with an existing website for fetching information. Or even connecting to a Customer Relations Management software system to store data from the app user. And these days may iPhone apps connect users with social media to share, comment or review the product or service while using the app.

Or the app may need integration with a payment gateway so that users can order products/ services via the app. Most of the above integrations need APIs to be developed and involve extra development efforts to achieve the goal of the application being developed.

Such integrations with external, third party systems take a good amount of time and impact the timelines of the project.

Testing the iPhone app
Though not many developers talk about this, it’s critical to the success of the app. Testing takes care of the quality of the app and ensures that users don’t face issues after the app is launched on the App Store. Generally, testing takes about 10 to 15% of the total time. It depends on the complexity, number of features, integrations with third party systems and whether it’s using location awareness. For example, we’re doing a theme park application for which our testing is inside the theme parks. In such cases one needs to add a fair bit if time for travel.

App Changes and Maintenance
A word of caution, app needs may change after launch and new features may be added. In many cases, apps require continuous maintenance. From Angry Birds to Cut The Rope, Foursquare and Evernote, apps evolve and many layers on creativity, innovation and gameplay come up with user feedback or utility upgrades.

So plan accordingly.

Examples of How Long it Took to Develop some Popular iPhone Apps
Twitterrific took $100k ‘ $250k to develop with the effort being 1500 hours (as quoted by one of the developers in a forum). Twiterrific is a simple app to use with a minimal set of features.

The Official Barrak Obama app was developed in 12.5 weeks ‘ 25 weeks. This is nothing but a basic listing app with info and news about Obama.

Eleviant Tech’s examples of Development Times for some apps

S.NoCategoryDescriptionExampleProject Duration / Timeline
1SimpleApplication with offline data and no server side interactionHeadache JournalOn the itunes store2 weeks ‘ 4 weeks
2MediumApplication with list based/organized static data with server side interactionMultiview GuidesOn the itunes store4 weeks ‘ 8 weeks
3ComplexApplication with heavy server interaction displaying dynamic data and social networking integrationMySocialMania
On the itunes store
8 weeks ‘ 12 weeks
4Enterprise AutomationApplication replicating enterprise business processes, Shopping Cart, eCommerce, Payment Integration etc.SalesVu
On the itunes store
12 weeks ‘ 20 weeks

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