When we published our massive review on how much an app costs back in 2015, we had no idea it would become the top resource on the web. Two years later, that piece is still considered the definitive resource in our industry. It’s because of its popularity that I feel compelled to revisit this subject. Additionally, doing so will allow for some fresh perspectives based on what's changed in the app industry as well as another way to look at the topic.
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Another WWDC keynote has come and gone. 2017 saw Apple focus on six particular areas, including announcements for the Apple TV, Apple Watch, Mac, iPad, the new HomePod, and of course, iOS 11. All of these impact the work we do at Savvy Apps, but the most significant of all is iOS 11.
We often address questions that focus on our experience in certain industries or with specific kinds of organizations. Although we have worked with companies large and small, commercial and non-profit, technology-driven and technology-challenged, we regularly emphasize that focusing on industry knowledge is not a good lens for selecting a partner.
Many app updates focus on bug fixes, polish, tweaks, or maybe adding a smaller feature. Less frequently, a major update comes along, like an app moving from 1.0 to 2.0 or 7.0 to 8.0. For example, Instagram and Uber both saw major app updates in the past year that fundamentally altered their app experiences.
Major app updates may include a brand new user experience, new visual design, or a handful of new features. There are a number of ways to recognize if your app is due for a major update. Your app doesn't need to meet all of the following criteria to require an update. Even just one consideration may justify spending the time and effort involved. Let's take a look.
This year's Google I/O was all about AI and it’s computing power. Google showcased its 17-year focus in organizing the world’s information via the Google Assistant—previously Google Now—in products like Google Home and Allo. Its machine-learning demos were impressive and its custom chip focused on machine learning in AI servers probably didn’t generate the wow factor it deserved.
Design thinking has come of age. People are now more aware of look and feel than ever. Great design is becoming an expectation, and those who provide that in their products and services have a competitive advantage. The same is true with apps specifically. Today's designers focus on more than just aesthetics and function. They are now considering the emotions people feel when interacting with their product, and how those emotions drive them to take one action over another. The value we see in design is now placed on tackling more complex problems, like the promise of a certain feeling rather than only utility.
There’s still confusion in the marketplace about why the cost to develop an app can vary so much from one company to another. While Savvy Apps is a service provider, our company is made up of people who are also consumers of goods and services. We understand why a lower cost is attractive on paper. Like many, we also have experienced what happens when going with a cheaper or the cheapest option. With that in mind, here’s our attempt to highlight what separates apps built by companies like ours compared to lower or significantly lower cost options.
Like many in the app community, we've been big fans of Parse at Savvy Apps. We were more than surprised by the news last Thursday that the Parse service will shut down in a year. Parse allowed us to reduce the costs of backend development for our startup and early-stage customers in particular. Even some of our larger brand and media-oriented customers used Parse, especially for sending push notifications or for quickly standing up APIs.
Once the first version of an app has been built in anywhere from 4-6 months the next step is to begin to maintain and support that app. The most popular apps on the app stores often see updates as frequently as weekly while other release cycles may happen once or twice a month. In this post, I'll break down how to approach app updates, balancing smaller and larger updates, and more generally accounting for different kinds of release cycles.
While it varies greatly, the general answer we provide to people asking us how long it takes to build an app is 4-6 months. That does not mean a first version of an app—a v1.0 app—can't be built faster than four months or that it won't take longer than six months. We've done both at Savvy Apps. As with any creative undertaking though, there are many factors that can influence this timeline. The remainder of this post will focus on these factors and the impact they can have on schedules.