October 6, 2023

App Development Timeline


It’s day one. You’ve just started your project, and the biggest question on your mind is, When will people be able to start using my app?

If you’re not a software developer, it can seem like something of a dark art, and difficult for you to match up the complexity, and the time required.

How long does it take to build an app? That’s the million-dollar question (or rather we hope it’s not a million dollars! We’ll get to that later)

A competent developer can create a pretty basic app in an hour or so. Sometimes we refer to these as ‘hello world’ apps

Source: https://www.appcoda.com/learnuikit/build-your-first-app.html

Typically, you would connect your phone to the laptop, and then be able to test it out on your own device.

At this point, it doesn’t do very much, and even if it’s submitted to the app store, it would probably be rejected. It says as much in the Apple Store Review Guidelines.

4.2 Minimum Functionality

Your app should include features, content, and UI that elevate it beyond a repackaged website. If your app is not particularly useful, unique, or “app-like,” it doesn’t belong on the App Store

Source: https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/#design

For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to make some assumptions. We’ll assume we’re talking about an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), sometimes referred to as a Proof of Concept, and that it’s an app to control a new Smart Device.

This will be a super slimmed-down version of the app, with all of the non-essentials stripped out. This helps us to start thinking about a timeline.

What’s first?


This process will help you understand the users, what they want, and how they will use the app. Perhaps you will conduct some research, and define how each of your features will work. Take Registration and Login for example:

  • Will people be using Emails? 
  • Do you want to use Social Media (Apple, Google, Facebook) to sign in? 
  • Will you be using Magic Links? 
  • Will users need to get Text Message Authentication codes to log in? 
  • What information will you be collecting from people as part of the registration process?

Once you’ve mapped out all your features you can prioritise them to decide what is going to be in V1.0 of this app.

If you want to get through it quickly, you can probably condense this to 1-2 weeks for a simple app.

Great, What’s next?

What does it look like and how will users use it? Designers will help draw up plans for your app, starting by understanding the Userflows from the Discovery process. They use this to create some Wireframes, and next, you’ll see them come to life with your branding. Lastly, it’s then transformed into a clickable prototype. It’s checked thoroughly to make sure it works as you expect and developers can click through to understand it too.

An MVP can usually be pulled together in around 2 weeks.

What about building it?

First up, the basics:

  • Login
  • Registration
  • Forgot Password
  • Delete Account

Great, How long will that take?

This sort of stuff, for a fairly simple implementation, can normally be built in about a week

Okay, but my app still doesn’t really do anything. What’s next?

  • List all of your Devices
  • Add a new Device
  • Remove a Device
  • Name a Device
  • Change the state of the device 
  • Schedule state changes (timers, alarms etc.)
  • Basic In-App Analytics

Alright,  Then how long will that take?

Now you’re getting into a lot more detail, but let's say optimistically 6 weeks. But you’re not done yet.

What now?

Well, now you have to submit it to the app store and wait for it to be reviewed before it can go live. We published a link further up that took you to the Apple App Store Review Guidelines. This is a really in-depth guide to all of the things your app has to comply with to get approved, and there are further linked guides surrounding Design, or maybe you want to tie into the Apple Home Kit.

Apple says 90% of apps are reviewed within 48 hours.

I would advise that you leave time for at least one round of amend from Apple Review Feedback, maybe two.

Safe side, two weeks.

It’s Alive!

After that, version 1.0 of your app is out there in the wild. It took around 12 weeks to get here. Of course, this blueprint doesn’t fit everyone or every app. It’s possible sometimes to work faster, by having more developers working in parallel, but this won’t always be possible, and the trade-off is this comes at a higher cost.

What Now?

Get feedback, read App Store reviews, and comments, check out ratings and iterate, look at what features come next, and see which existing features require improvement. 

Next stop, world domination!

App Development Timeline