Best Practices

How Long Does It Take to Make an App?

Updated on
February 9, 2024
Table of content

"How long does it take to make an app?" 

This is the second most popular question clients come to us with. The first one is, of course, about the price. You can find the detailed answer to the first one here, and today I'll tell you everything about app development time.

Paradoxical as it may sound, but creating a precise app development timeline demands time and, more importantly, experience. I've been working at Uptech for 3 years and made tons of time estimations for both early-stage startups and established companies over this time. And I know for sure how important the app development timeline is to meet investors' requirements and product deadlines. 

So today, I’ll share with you a detailed time breakdown for each stage of app development with real numbers and cover the following topics:

  • How long does it take to build an app from an idea to a full-fledged product?
  • What are the most time-consuming stages?
  • What are the factors that impact the app development timelines?
  • How can you speed up the app development process?

There’s a lot to cover; let's dive into it.

make an app together

How Long Does It Take to Develop an App: In a Nutshell

The development span for an average app can range from 4 to 7 months. The time required to build one depends a lot on the project's complexity, the number of features, and the expertise of software developers.

App complexity Approximate development time
Simple app 2-4 months
Medium complexity app 4-7 months
Complex and large-scale app 7-12+ months

Simple apps

Such programs are usually template-based with minimal custom coding. They have basic functionality and a simple user interface. Simple apps have no Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), meaning they can’t send to and receive data from other systems. Here, data is stored locally as there’s no synchronization with cloud services. Simple apps commonly take from 2 to 4 months to develop.

Example: A simple to-do list application where a user can add, edit, and delete tasks as well as mark them as completed.

Medium complexity apps

These systems are more feature-rich than simple apps with a custom user interface. They can integrate with external APIs, e.g., there may be a possibility to log in using social media accounts. Also, medium complexity apps may use the device's native features like GPS or camera. There's synchronization with cloud services and databases. Apps of medium complexity take about 4-7 months to develop.

Example: A fitness tracker app that tracks physical activities using the device's sensors (e.g., steps, heart rate), integrates with third-party devices (like wearables) and apps, offers basic workout plans, and tracks progress.

Complex and large-scale apps

This software comes with advanced functionalities, a high-level backend, and high performance and security requirements.

Large-scale apps integrate with multiple systems and synchronize with cloud services. They handle complex user interactions such as activities requiring real-time data exchange, payment processing, etc. The development time of complex apps can range from 7 to 12 months and more.

Example: A complex mobile banking app that offers secure multi-factor login, real-time account insights, different payment options, money transfers, mobile check deposits, integrated financial planning tools, and customer service features.

These are just a few examples of different apps and their development times. Keep in mind that every app is different, and complexity is only one of many factors impacting the project timeline.

For instance, in Uptech's Dyvo project, despite the app's advanced AI capabilities for generating art and avatars from photos, we completed development in approximately 2 months. This became possible thanks to our strategic use of no-code platforms, which streamlined the process and allowed for rapid deployment.

App Development Times by Stages

Every step of the software development process shapes the overall timeline of bringing an app from concept to launch. From initial planning to final deployment, specific sets of tasks, challenges, and time requirements exist. Here, we're breaking down the typical durations for each app development phase, getting you to know what to expect as your project progresses.

how long does it take to make an app

The Discovery Stage Timeline

First of all, we at Uptech start with strong research. Moving the idea from something fluid and unclear to a well-defined area – is our goal for the Discovery phase. All in all, the Discovery stage takes from 6 to 8 weeks.

Here are the questions you should ask to know what it takes to make an app, how long each part lasts, and what you can skip.

How long does it take to research the app idea?

On average, the research takes around 1-2 weeks. When we say the research, we mean the following:

  • Market analysis;
  • Proto personas;
  • Value proposition;
  • CJM.

While some founders and product owners often underestimate this part, we want to highlight that research is a must. Why? Say you have an app idea and don’t know what to do next. With research, we ground your idea by checking if there's a place for it in the market and if there's actually a need for your idea.

Doing the research part can also uncover if the market is bustling with similar ideas or if the costs might stretch the budget. It's a friendly nudge to ensure every idea finds its perfect niche or spark inspiration for an even better one.

We also do this analysis to prioritize the needs and define feature sets. And it’s the research that ensures your business goals are going to be met.

There are only two cases in which we can skip the research part. The first one is when you have already done it, or you're an expert in the industry and know it all from top to bottom. At the same time, even with enough of your expertise in the field, we can still carry out a study as it will enable you to have all your data in one place and keep it systematized.

How long does it take to validate the idea?

After the research, the validation part comes. It takes up to 1 week to fully validate your app idea. What's happening during this phase?

The short answer is we polish the knowledge gathered during research. The long answer is we conduct interviews with potential customers, check hypotheses, and test app flow. So, again, we make the idea less fluid and more established.

The deliverables of validation are:

  • Improved Proto Personas;
  • Classic business model canvas or Lean Canvas (if you don't have one);
  • Market strategy.

Validation is optional, as well as research. There’s no need to spend time validating the idea when you’ve already talked to potential customers, checked hypotheses, and ensured that people need exactly the solution you propose.

How long does it take to create a product strategy?

Product strategy means far more than just a step-by-step product development plan. It describes your business goals and how you will reach them with the product. We need 2 weeks to create the product strategy that includes:

  • Technical design document;
  • Product roadmap;
  • Timeline estimation;
  • Cost estimation.

The thing that we like about product strategy the most is that it provides clarity for everyone involved in product development. The whole team is on the same page, and there is less space for miscommunication and delays.

You may be wondering whether you can skip the product strategy. Well, yes, but if only you’ve created one.

How long does it take to prototype the app?

With lots of work behind, we're ready to build a product prototype.

Just a small note: The whole app development process isn't linear. Moving from the research part to validation doesn't mean the research is over. We keep growing the product step-by-step, studying the market, following the competitors, etc.

So, let's get back to the prototyping. First and foremost, a prototype isn't a ready-to-use app. And please don’t confuse a prototype with a proof of concept (PoC) or a minimum viable product (MVP): They are different things.

The prototype is an early attempt to visualize a working solution. Yes, it looks like a working app, but it doesn't include animation and full functionality. Usually, the prototype is built for 1-2 user roles, and it aims to test the key features or functions. So don't set too high expectations for the prototype, and don't focus on polishing it.

It takes approximately 1 week to build a clickable prototype.

how long to make an app

How long does it take to validate the app prototype?

To validate your prototype, you need to test it with at least 3-5 users, gather feedback and find insights, like:

  • How much users value the features;
  • How users interact with the product;
  • If your product is difficult to use;
  • If navigation is clear.

This is called one-cycle feedback, and it takes around 1 week to complete. The final time may change depending on the number of feedback cycles.  

The Design & Development Stage Timeline

The Discovery stage with rapid prototyping lets you build the first version of the app quickly, test it with real users, and adapt based on their feedback. This is a crucial part of app creation, and passing it will save you time during the following stages: Design and Development.

How long does it take to design the app?

App design, encompassing both UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface) design, goes alongside the development or can be ahead of time in 2-3 sprints. This stage, along with development, often represents the most unpredictable and time-consuming segment of the whole product creation process.

It happens for two reasons: fast-changing requirements and new technologies that roll out at lightning speed. So the question isn’t how hard it is to design an app but how you can make the design process less unpredictable and more constant. One of the solutions is implementing the Lean UX Design process.

The main deliverables include detailed wireframes, which lay out the app's structural framework, and accurate prototypes that give a realistic preview of the app's look and feel.

Typically, the design stage takes from 2 to 3 months.

However, the complexity of the design can still affect the timelines greatly. Designing an app with a straightforward approach, like using UI kits for a few basic screens, can save time and money. Speaking of the latter, we have an article dedicated to the app design cost and what goes into it.

how long does it take to make an app

A perfect example is our design shot on Dribbble of what a Doctor Appointment app could look like, featuring just 3 screens: Login, Calendar, and Book an Appointment, utilizing ready-made UI kits without custom illustrations.

Contrast this with our more complex project, Yaza — a real estate app for sharing and recording video home tours. In this project, the design process involved deep UX considerations, prototype iterations, and extensive user testing, resulting in a user-friendly interface for both real estate agents and home seekers and leading to significant user growth post-launch.

How long does it take to code the app?

For coding specifically, a small app may need approximately 2 months to be completed. A medium-sized app may take around 4 to 5 months, while a larger app could extend this period to 5-6 months. Here, we talk about setting up the technical architecture, UI coding, backend development, functional implementation, system integration, and often testing.

Stakeholders often ask, “How long does it take to develop an app if we hire more people?” The interesting fact is that the development team size doesn't affect the speed. I will tell you more: every new member can prolong development. How does that happen?

Imagine you have 2 developers on your project, and their work efficiency doesn't equal 2. It's usually at the level of 1,7 because of communication, knowledge-sharing issues, etc. Logically, when you add 2 more developers, the overall process won't go two times faster. It'll extend.

“The time spent on coding the app mostly depends on the app you want to build, not the number of people who code it.”
How long does it take to code the app?
Simple complexity app 2 months
Medium complexity app 4-5 months
Complex app 5-6 months

So, the time spent on coding the app mostly depends on the app you want to build, not the number of people who code it. Here’s the coding timeline breakdown for apps we made by the complexity.

Simple Complexity App, like PNKYSWR. We spent approximately 4 months creating the React Native App to meet Android and iOS users' needs quickly. 

how long does it take to make an app

Medium Complexity App, like – a part of a photo studio Squareshot. It was a platform for reviewing commercial photos that took us 5 months to code.  

how long does it take to make an app

Complex Apps, like Yaza and Nomad. These apps' functionality is a lot more complex. It includes 2 or more user roles. Also, the listings search and video recording features demand more time, so it took us nearly 6 months to complete each project.

how long does it take to make an app
how long does it take to make an app

The Product Launch Timeline

Finally, we're ready for the launch. Only after the research, idea validation, a step-by-step product strategy, tested prototypes, ready design, and perfectly coded app, we have a product ready to meet the world.

Launching a product often looks more or less the same but always feels a bit different and exciting. Here's what happens just before the launch and how much time it takes.

Preparing for the launch is usually divided into two parts: beta and alpha releases. The alpha release is an early pre-release version of the app, and it's usually performed by the testers within the organization.

Beta testing is performed by the end-users, and their amount is larger than in alpha. We use Testflight for iOS apps and Google Play Console for Android for testing.

A big part of the pre-launch process is the cycle of submissions and reviews. This is precisely the reason why the pre-launch stage may take from 2 weeks to 1 month. App Store and Google Play Store have different reviewing processes.

For example, Apple has a far more detailed reviewing process. While Android uses an algorithm to pre-analyze your app, Apple conducts the review completely manually by a team of reviewers. So, depending on the issue, the submission period can take longer. Apple states on its App Store Review page that most apps are reviewed within 24 hours, although it can occasionally take longer. Google, on its Play Console Help page, says that app reviews can take up to 7 days or longer in exceptional cases, especially for new developers or those with apps that require more detailed reviews. Publishing happens 1-2 business days after approval on both platforms.

As you can see, there are a lot of things that can either cut down the time needed to build an app or, vice versa, prolong it.

Key Aspects Influencing App Development Timelines

In this section, we have rounded up five key factors that most impact the time required to develop an app. But this list isn’t exhaustive, so you know.

factors that make up the app development timeline

App complexity and features

As said, how complex and feature-packed you want your app to be is going to directly affect the software build time. Not only does it define the coding part, but it also impacts the design efforts. If the app has multiple functional components and/or deals with real-time data, it simply can’t be ready in a few weeks.

For example, developing an app like TikTok (with the same or similar scale and complexity) can take from 9 to 18 months or more, especially if aiming for a high-quality product that can support a large user base from the start. This timeline assumes that you will have enough people with relevant experience on the project as well as you will be ready to grow your team per requirements. This leads us to the next factor – the team.

Team experience

The expertise level of your development team plays a significant role in the project timeline. A team with higher experience levels can often navigate complex tasks more efficiently, potentially reducing development time significantly.

Platform choice

Making an app for multiple platforms (iOS, Android, web) can increase development time, especially if you build the app natively for each platform. Cross-platform development tools can reduce this time but might come with their own limitations.

For instance, in a project to create a smart investment platform, our client asked us for an iOS app launch within a tight two-month window. Given this constraint, we recommended React Native, relying on our three years of experience with the framework. Generally, React Native can reduce feature development time by 20-40% compared to native approaches. This knowledge helped us meet the deadline without compromising functionality.

You can read more about native vs cross-platform development in our dedicated article to see which option suits you best.

Design complexity

The design phase is one of the biggest time consumers in app development. When you choose to go for highly customized and intricate designs, the timeline stretches out. We mean designs with animations, transitions, and engaging interactive elements that make the user experience pop. While all these touches help you stand out, they definitely demand more time and attention during the development process.

Testing and QA

Testing across different devices, platforms, and use cases to ensure the app works as it should can also significantly influence the overall development timeline. The more comprehensive the testing phase, the longer the development cycle extends, mainly if significant bugs are found that require backtracking and reworking parts of the app.

4 Ways to Speed Up The App Development Process

Along with the delight and satisfaction of building the app often comes the desire to speed up some stages. At this point, we do really advise you to have a conversation with your development team about the possible ways to cut the timeline.

Here are the solutions we offer when the stakeholder isn't satisfied with the mobile app development timeline and wants to save up some time.

ways to reduce app development cost

Stakeholders should devote some time to communication

Communication takes the lion's share of the app development process. From day one, when you start the collaboration with an outsourcing partner, get ready for the number of Slack messages and Zoom meetings to increase in your schedule.

It's inevitable. You're the one who takes part in the final decision-making: By responding fast and sharing your point of view clearly and on time, you do yourself a favor in terms of time.

From our experience, devoting 10-20 hours per month to the project works pretty well.

Focus on core moments and start with MVP

There are two ways to create the app. You can try to build all of the features you want with minimal work or release minimum features to maximize quality. We recommend you choose the latter.

Especially when your goal is to launch fast, the way out here is simple, build an MVP. Minimizing features and focusing on a core value always help ship a product quickly. So, don't be afraid to leave some features or customization for the next app versions. 

These are the things you can do to speed up the app development process from your side. But you're not the only one who affects the speed. Here's what your development company can offer you back, and this is what we practice at Uptech on a daily basis.  

Set the contact faces

Instead of involving the whole team in the meetings and creating a bunch of group chats, we set a person responsible for communication. It's usually a product manager or solution architect. They update the project status, communicate any changes, delays, and challenges, and basically keep you on track with everything.

We do it to avoid mess. You, as a stakeholder, have one contact person to ask, clarify, and update on everything regarding the project. It saves so much time and decreases miscommunication.

Meet business goals and say ‘no’ when needed

Throughout the projects, we noticed that it's a skill and art to know how to work with stakeholders right. For us at Uptech, it's never just about doing tasks. Instead, it's working in tandem with our clients.

If the client's goal is to test the idea fast, we do everything to meet this goal. Sometimes, saying 'no' to some ideas is a part of that process. From our side, we make extra effort to keep the clients in the loop on the final goal. It's not on the surface, but communicating clearly and keeping the business goal in mind saves you some extra time.

how long does it take to make an app

To Sum Up

With this info, when you come to the outsourcing company to help you with app development and ask, "How long does it take to develop an application?" you know what to expect. The average time to develop an app with Discovery, Design & Development, and Pre-launch stages is around 7 - 12 months.

We found out what stages it takes to develop an app of different complexity levels, and team size doesn’t often mean a shorter app development timeline. However, there's always a way to speed up the process. We can skip the Research and Validation parts if you've already done research or know the market well enough. Design and Development are essential parts, and the most time-reducing techniques are connected with better communication.

Clear requirements, timely responses, and shared responsibility are the go pedals for the app development process. If you want to get a detailed estimation for your project, just drop us a line. We'll be happy to help you. And who knows, maybe it'll be the beginning of our collaboration.


1. What is a standard mobile app development timeline?

On average, it will take 2-4 months to develop a simple mobile app like a plain to-do list app, 4-7 months to develop a medium-complexity app like a fitness tracker, and 7-12+ months – a complex app like a social media platform or a mobile banking app.

2. How long does it take to develop an Android app?

To develop an Android app, you will typically need 1 to 3 months for simple apps, 3 to 6 months for apps of moderate complexity, and 6 months to a year or more for highly complex apps. App features, development approach, and team expertise significantly influence the timeline.

3. How long does it take to build an iOS app?

Building an iOS app can take 1 to 3 months for simple applications, 3 to 6 months for those with moderate complexity, and 6 months to over a year for highly complex apps. The exact timeline depends on the app's features, the team's experience, and the chosen development methodologies.