Product Design
November 11, 2019

How Long Does It Take to Make an App: Start to Launch

It probably goes without saying that building an app is far from easy. Time, cost, and quality are all key parts of the equation. Here at Rootstrap, we specialize in creative app development - we’ve worked with some of the biggest names in helping them develop ideas to apps. We know more than anyone that an app can make or break your brand. Hence, the high importance that falls upon design, function, usage and launch of the mobile technology that represents your business.

Say you’re at the stage where you’re contemplating taking the leap into the vast app marketplace. You know better than anyone that those great, revenue-crushing app icons - the Spotify’s and Facebook’s and Instagram’s of the digital world - they take serious time, money and talent to develop. You also know that your product or idea could be on that quality level if only you knew the particulars of how to create the next big thing.

So, you’ve got the base idea. You’re gearing up to start planning and acting on the particulars. But where do you even begin?

If you’re at the stage in your business or product planning that you’re ready to take the next step, as good place as any to start is with some background research. Luckily, our team at Rootstrap is pretty good at helping along ideation (via a little something we call Roadmapping).

Where to Start: Asking the Right Questions

We can help with that:

First things first - you need to make sure you’re asking the right questions. Not only should you be thinking of length or duration necessary to build the next big thing, you should also be contemplating a few key things. Those questions should look a little something like this:

  • Why are you looking to make an app?
  • Are you prepared for the time necessary to create quality?  
  • What’s your budget? Scope of work?  
  • Are you looking to build the app by yourself? What will that entail?
  • Android or IOS? What are the pro’s and cons of each?
  • What output are you looking for? How will you measure build success?
  • How will you launch the app when it’s done?

These are all essential points to consider. Whether you want a quick fix solution or are in it for the long-haul, you need to be well-equipped with a clear overview of what you’re in for. Far too many in the startup world have walked blindly into the app-making space without looking far enough ahead, simply because everyone else was doing it. Creating an app is not necessarily always the solution to your business needs. But in most cases, it is the smart move... if executed well. From defining your concept to launching your new pride and joy, a fool-proof blueprint is what will take your app from good, to great.

Now that you’ve thoughtfully analyzed your general scope of work, it’s time to move forward to the specifics. So, how long does it take to learn how to make an app?

Let’s refocus on the education you’ll want to be able to execute that dream build:

How Much Does It Take to Make an App: A Breakdown of the Costs

Budgeting is all relative. We did a pretty thorough analysis on how much it costs to make an app here. Ultimately, you get what you pay for. Want a high quality, user-friendly experience with a diverse list of features? That will undoubtedly cost you. Perhaps a limited functioning product that can made quickly serves its purpose? The decision is all yours.

So, how much $$ does it take to create an app? It all boils down to scope of work and type of app. To speedily summarize, the breakdown of costs will cover four key areas - features, technology, non-dev costs and who’s making it.

Costs will vary based on the types of project and app you are wanting to make (see our guide to Mobile App Development Tools for more on these):

Native App:

Pretty much known as the most expensive of the three, native apps are pricey to make. Based on cost analysis, native app for iPhone and Android can cost anywhere from $32,000 to $251,000. The variation in pricing depends, of course, on the size and scale of the development project.  

Hybrid App:

A cheaper alternative to a native app, hybrid apps can range anywhere from $22,000 to $162,000, dependent on the project itself. Unfortunately, a hybrid app will need to be rewritten if you ever end up deciding to go native, which will then cost you even more than going native in the first place.

Web App:

The cheapest of all, a web app only goes for ballpark $3,000 - $25,000. If your budget is a lot smaller this may be the route to go; however, it is important to be objective when you decide what type of app is right for your business. Web apps are massive in the IT market, but you won’t find much success with a web application in the mobile gaming space.

On average, you can expect to spend to pay anywhere from $38,000 - $500,000 on a quality app. All things considered, this number can skyrocket if those four key areas we mentioned are in the higher-end, or can drop a lot lower, if you’re fine with an end product offering limited function and usability.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to aim for the more expensive build, make sure to go back to those “right,” questions we mentioned earlier. Think about why you’re building an app in the first place. Is this the right time for you and your business to go all-out on design and UX? Being realistic and relentlessly honest with yourself is vital.

Now, once you’ve sorted out the finances, and have a rough idea of timeline based on that, you can move on to another core component when building an app.

How Long Does It Take to Make an App by Yourself: The Pros and Cons to Building Without a Team

Ah, the age-old question of any entrepreneurial spirit on the edge of app-invention: can you make it all by yourself? Is it time to splurge for a team?

For those of us at Rootstrap, we recognize the power of using mobile app developers when it comes to app-building; after all, that’s the base of our creative business solution. However, you need to equip yourself to make the right decision for you. It’s often tricky to know what the best move is to make.

What it really comes down to is the scope of your build. Put quite frankly, you can save loads of money if you go at it alone. What’s good to remember is that while building on your own may save money now, it could hurt you in the long run. Maintaining an app will cost you, and those charges could rise if the foundation of your v1 isn’t correctly and efficiently laid.

For instance, say v1 of your app goes smoothly. But eventually, as your business scales, you will need to move to v2. This is where you could run into problems if the first version isn’t of a high-caliber or the right type of app.

Bottom line is: making an app by yourself will probably save you money but will also likely take longer. The guys over at Startup Grind reckon you need to also consider size of the app you’re trying to build. They say, “a smaller app will take a shorter time compared to a bigger app.” In terms of timing, they break it down by small, medium and big apps:

Scoping: 1 to 4 weeks

UX Design: 2 to 10 weeks

Development/Testing: 6 to 22 weeks

Deployment: 1 to 3 weeks

You’ve considered all of the high-level questions, found the best industry guide, analyzed the costs, and debated whether or not you need a team to build. Now what?

It’s time for the next phase: how long does it take to make an Android app? A classic crossroads decision for almost all app developers is the telling choice between an Android and an IOS (or both!). In this stage, you should evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each in order to pick the best choice for your business.

The real question is - which platform is best for your brand and target market?

How Long Does It Take to Make an Android App: The Pros and Cons of the Android Platform

Pros of the Android Platform:

  • Easy application process
  • Higher chance of long-term customers
  • Less updates
  • Higher rate of user push notification opens
  • Very low CPI (cost per install)

Cons of the Android Platform:

  • Expensive development process
  • Expensive long-term customer relationships
  • Long development timeline

How Long Does It Take to Make an IOS App: The Pros and Cons of the IOS Platform

Pros of the IOS Platform:

  • Relatively cheap development process
  • Relatively cheap long-term customer relationships
  • Difficult application process
  • Shorter development timeline

Cons of the IOS Platform:

  • Lower chance of long-term customers
  • Low push notification open rate
  • Frequent iOS updates
  • Higher CPI  

How to Launch an App

Apps sit in a highly competitive market. You never know who is coming along in your space, and if what they’ll bring is even more innovative than what you’re offering. So is the nature of this business.

Hence, we believe that when you launch your new app -  launch big. This stage is so critical to the long-term success of your newly developed v1, so it’s important you get it right.

We recommend you follow these milestones in order to nail that app launch:


Exhaust all of your testing pre-launch. Here at Rootstart, we like to say, “there is no such thing as testing too much.” You really want to avoid having any bugs or issues pop up on the launch, so get those beta-testers in far ahead of time, and resolve any potential problems before they can even occur.


We can’t stress enough the incredibly important role a good marketing strategy plays in ensuring a smooth launch. Cultivate a killer strategy ahead of time, so that when launch day rolls around, you’ve already captured the attention of your target audience.  


Here goes another Launch requirement, and one that people tend to forget up until the very last minute: registering your app on the platform you’re going live with. Whether it is Apple or Google Play, you have to go through the application process for your application (yes, we realize that’s an oxymoron). Take care of this ahead of time, and you’ll guarantee yourself less stress come launch day.


Whichbrings us to the second to last phase of launching your app... let’s call it arranging the most rewarding and nail-biting moment of your business to date. That’s right, it’s finally time to put a face to a name. Or in more technical terms, a time to the execution. Pick a launch date that pairs well with your marketing strategy, and ready the calvary...  


Cue those celebratory trumpets: the big moment has arrived! Make sure you put some serious effort into making sure launch day goes off without a hitch. Those perfectly crafted press releases need to go out, and be certain there is someone available to answer any incoming media inquiries. Get all the coverage you can - you want to go into the app industry with a resounding splash.

There you have it! Our personally crafted guide on How Long Does It Take to Make an App: Start to Finish.

In some cases, it could take as little as a few weeks. Months, even. In others, you could be working on creating the perfect app for even longer. The biggest thing to remember is that the planning phase is everything. Invest time into developing a strong strategy, set realistic KPI’s, and get your whole team involved in instrumenting app success. Take our word for it - a good app is everything.