It’s strange how similar things come along at the same time and this week it’s multiple people asking me how long it would take to develop an app when the details of what’s in the app haven’t even been defined yet!
At first its might seem surprising that people might want to know or even request this but if you think about it, it’s one of the first questions that might determine whether an app is worth developing or it might help drive how much functionality should be initially defined for an app.
So the question is really “How long does it take to develop a typical non-trivial app?”. I answered this previously in my Mobile Development Primer under the heading “Work out How Much It Will Cost”. The answer is about 6 to 8 weeks.
If your app is doing more than one main thing than you can factor up the time and cost. How do you determine this? Well, if your app could be split into two (or more) apps and still have significant functionality then you should obviously be budgeting for proportionately more time. An example might be including complex instant messaging into an app whose purpose is really to do something else.
Other common factors affecting timescales include the degree of testing, the degree of branding and the use of non-standard UI/idioms. For example, if you want your app to look more like an iOS app on Android which, strangely, some people still seem to want, then it will take longer and cost you more.