There are nearly 6.5 billion smartphone users around the world. That’s why there are millions of apps that help them do everything from get directions to order food. Today, most tasks either are, or are becoming app based.

Hence, most businesses are looking to create their own apps to get their products and services out to customers. The price of building an iOS or Android app can vary widely depending on the kind of app you’re building. Most estimates say that building an app can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $300,000.

Here are certain factors you can use to determine how much it will cost to develop an iOS or Android app in the USA.

App Complexity Determines Labor Costs

App complexity, meaning the number of features it provides, and the nature of its features changes its cost vastly. Simple apps like calculators and camera apps don’t require much coding or optimization. However, more complex apps like photo and video editors or games, or food ordering apps require tons of coding.

The more complex your app, the more it will cost to code for, design, and optimize. Assuming a 40/hr coding labor cost, simple apps will cost $40k-$60k. However, highly complex apps can cost over $200,000 to build. The same can be said for the app development timeframe. Simple apps take about 2-3 months, while complex apps can take more than a year for full development.

Simple apps interact with just a few elements of your smartphone or tablet. They don’t require consistent communications with cloud databases or cloud based APIs. Complex apps however, require constant access to those things.

For example, Google Maps requires access to Google’s own map database as well as several calculation algorithms.  Most of the app’s functionality relies on constant communication with a cloud based API. Hence, the complexity involved is much, much higher than for simple apps like calculators.

App Type Determines Overall Costs

There are 3 types of apps. Native apps are built using native code and APIs. Web apps are mobile versions of a website built to look like an app. Hybrid apps are combinations of native and web apps and suited for a large audience.
Hybrid apps are easier to code for since a single code structure is imported to all platforms. However, web and native apps are coded using very specific tools and are built for specific platforms. This means that they require adherence to more strict rules and expertise in specific coding languages.
This is why hybrid apps are on average, cheaper to design than web and native apps. However, native apps are more difficult to build since they are built using only tools native to a single platform. They require high optimization. These are apps like games or graphics heavy AI engines. 

App Development Region Determines Hourly Rates

Depending on the region you’re developing the app in, your costs will vary. For the USA, the hourly rate for app development can vary between $120 and $150.

Platform Costs

The platform on which your application will run can influence app costs. For example, Android offers a more open platform which allows for one off $25 payments on the Google Play Store. However, to keep your app on the Apple App Store, you are required to pay a $99 annual fee.
Yet, there is higher device complexity in Android due to device OS fragmentation. Apple however, has only one device OS with no variations. Hence, the development cycle is faster for iOS.

Outsourcing vs. In House Development Costs

Hiring a local agency to develop your app can cost $120/hr. For a development cycle of 500 hours, this will cost anywhere from $40,000-$60,000. Freelance hires can do the same for you at $50/hour. Outsourcing partners will offer similar rates as well.
However, developing an app in house will be more expensive since you’ll have to invest in a team. This will include programmers, backend developers, designers, testers, etc.  Of course, the maintenance and operational costs will also be a part of this expense. Overall, the cost to build an iOS or Android app in house will be hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Design and Optimization Costs

The design and optimization costs of app development are necessary expenses. For example, optimizing user experience and interface elements like display, and button placement, and colors appeals to customers.

Hidden Costs

There are a few hidden costs with every app development project that will eat into the budget. These include the functional costs like those for third party integration or maintenance costs for bug fixes. These can cost anywhere from $5000 to 20% of your app budget. Marketing costs are also necessary to promote your app and they cost 40% of the original development cost.
Of course each app’s costs will vary widely depending on the project, but budgeting and taking care of the essentials can make a difference. With these costs taken care of, your app can go through development very smoothly.

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