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iOS app development agency: How to choose and how much does it cost

Developing an iOS project is a popular activity and can be hugely beneficial for a business. It can be an expensive undertaking, so you must understand the right agency or platform you should be using and how to run the project. Let us look at how iOS development works, how to choose an agency and the costs involved.

Do You Have An iOS App Idea?

Ideas for an iOS app can come from so many different places, here are just a few.

  • A productivity app, designed to make a job easier for the wider public or your own business
  • A new concept that will add value to people’s lives
  • A game that will bring enjoyment to the user
  • A social network that will bring people together

Whatever your idea, the key is understanding if it will fulfil a need or solve a pain. Talk to potential customers (internal or external) and get feedback on your idea before you press ahead with a development project.

Why Choose A Mobile App for iPad/iPhone?

You’ve come up with a great idea for an app. Your next job is deciding which platform to build it on. Do you go Android or build on Apple’s iOS platform to sell your application through Apple’s App Store.

There are several clear reasons for choosing to build your app for an iPad and iPhone.

  1. The profile of the end-users. Typically the iPhone is purchased by higher-end users, those with more disposable income, meaning you have a greater chance of someone purchasing the app or paying for in-app upgrades
  2. Security. The regulations and clear rules that have to be followed to build and register an application in the app store mean that the apps are more secure, important for both the customer and the app owner
  3. The user experience. Apple’s continual push towards the perfect experience for its users benefits anyone that builds its application on their platform

What Is An iOS App Development Agency?

This is an agency that develops apps that can be used on iPhones and iPads, building your app from the idea stage through to delivery, as well as provide post-release support to ensure your app remains up to date.

Most iOS app development agencies will have developers, designers and strategists in their business, allowing them to support a client at all stages of development.

An iPhone and iPad app development company will be able to get involved at any stage in your apps development process, they don’t always manage the entire process.

Some people will use a NoCode solution to produce an initial version of an application and then turn to an agency to produce a version ready for release on the App Store and increasingly the agency will use a NoCode platform themselves.

How Do iOS App Development Agencies

Create Apps?

Whilst there is a generally accepted process flow for developing an app, each agency will work slightly differently. There are tweaks needed when you are specifically building an application to sit on the App Store.

Step 1 – The Idea
No app can be designed without that first idea. It might be fully formed from day one or just be a series of thoughts you’ve had. Either way, you’ll need to do background research to verify the idea.

You’ll be looking for others already doing the same, ensuring you have a unique offering or a way of making it stand out from the rest of the apps in the same space.

You should also be looking at how others have developed their apps to ensure you are building best practice into your development. The chances are you are not the first person in the marketplace, so learn from others.

Step 2 – Compliance
This step is more important with iOS than Android because the rules on iOS app development are a lot stricter than on Android. This is an area where you should use an expert, don’t guess with this area because Apple will simply block your ambitions.

Always use an agency or freelancer the first time you go to produce an iOS app, so you can learn all about the rules and regulations for any future development project.

Step 3 – Design and UX Phase
Before you or your agency jump into coding the app (or utilising a NoCode platform), you need to design the application, including how the user experience will work.

Apple focuses heavily on a smooth experience, so if you want to succeed on the App Store, you have to put a lot of thought into this. A good agency will know all the best practices for iOS app development from their own experiences, ensuring your project will be exactly what users want.

A clear output from this stage needs to be a brief for the final application build. This will explain the user journeys needed, the look and feel, as well as all major functions required. They will also build a wireframe into this process, allowing you to get a feel for how the finished app will look.

Step 4 – Development Phase
It is now time to bring your idea to life! Your iOS app development agency will have many projects to complete depending on the requirements of the app, but the core elements will be

  • Front-end development – As the term indicates, this is about all the elements that will interact with the end-user and needs to ensure a smooth user experience and compatibility across different screen sizes and devices
  • Back-end development – The backbone of your development that will ensure the application performs well and all the security and connectivity elements work as required. Poor back-end development will affect user confidence
  • APIs – The link between back-end and front-end functions, as well as integrating with external sources, for example pulling in 3rd party data sources or using other sites for logging authentication

If an agency is creating your app natively for you, then it will need to use XCode, Apple’s IDE (integrated development environment). The tool will ultimately allow them to export the application to the App Store, but will also allow editing of source code, UI changes and debugging support.

Step 5 – Testing and Release
Nothing is worse than an app being released and having millions of complaints about bugs. These complaints are visible to the world via the App Store reviews, which will stop others from downloading your app.

So the testing phase is even more important than the development phase. You need to be testing for both bugs and the overall user experience. It is important to get people outside the project to test the app, as they will find errors those closer to the project will miss and they will also comment better on the user experience of a novice.

Step 6 – Continued Maintenance
Whilst not technically part of the app development process, the ongoing maintenance of your app will be critical for long term success. Apple is continually updating iOS and it is your responsibility to ensure that your app continues to function well in these upgrades.

A good iOS app development company will offer continued services to make sure your app remains compliant, but they will also help you respond to initial feedback and continually evolve your app for the user.

How Much Does a Custom IOS App Development Cost?

The cost of an iOS app development will depend on the requirements of your application, but estimates on app development range from $10,000 right up to $120,000 if you are looking at a higher-end, enterprise development.

One thing is for sure, an iOS development will traditionally be cheaper than Android because it has fewer devices and versions of the operating system to support and thus ensure your application is compatible with.

The decisions you make in specifying your application will ultimately affect the end cost of the development. The following are some of the factors that will affect the end cost.

  • Integrations. If you choose to get some of the content from a 3rd party, you will need to pay for these integrations and they often come with an ongoing license fee. A great example would be integrating with social media apps like Facebook

  • The hardware features you utilise. A smartphone has a lot of features that you might try and tap into, but each will come with a development cost. Good examples would be GPS navigation, Augmented Reality and NFC technology

  • Maintenance costs. If you employ the agency to continue supporting the app post-delivery, then this will again increase your overall app development costs

  • You might need storage or database hosting. These will have ongoing fees associated with them

  • You may also want to incorporate in-app purchasing into the platform, which will make the initial development more expensive

There is another option though, one that will greatly reduce both the cost and time to develop an iOS app, which is using a NoCode platform. By taking away the requirement for a lot of expensive and hard to find coders, you minimise your financial outlay.

For those that are looking to deliver an app to determine whether it’s viable in the long term, using a NoCode platform is perfect to get out a quick proof of concept for an expensive development. Imagine spending $40,000 on something to discover it’s not going to deliver what you expected.

If you’d like to read about how other start-ups have used this approach to build an app or product to drive their business quickly and cost-effectively, have a read here.

How Do Free IOS Apps Make Money?

It is estimated that less than a third of the applications on the App Store charge to download them but if it costs so much to produce an iOS app, you have to wonder why anyone would release a free app.

Most free apps use different methods to generate revenue, there are very few that are not looking to make money. What different ways can an iOS app generate revenues without charging a fee to download it?

1. Advertising or sponsorship

Sponsored content or advertising have been part of the internet almost from day one and they are a huge part of monetising an app. The most popular method currently is to force the user to watch an advert before the user can move through to the next part of the app.

Some apps will have banners throughout the use of it or you might find that different parts of the app are sponsored by a brand, for name recognition.

One common theme is adding the ability to upgrade the app to remove all advertising. This allows the app developer to offer a free version but encourages the user to take the paid version instead.

2. In-app purchases

So popular that by 2017 people were spending more on in-app purchases than they were on purchasing apps themselves. This method aims to get someone hooked on using the app and then as they look to use it more, they have to buy things in the app.

This might be to access elements otherwise closed off to free app users, it might be to give them credits to speed up how they get through the app (very popular with gaming apps) or simply to purchase items that are add-ons to the core app experience.

Benefits of iOS Application Development

For Your Business

So what benefits can your business expect to get from using an iOS app development company to build your app?

Profile of the application users

As previously stated, iPhone owners have a higher propensity to purchase than Android users, in part as an iPhone is more expensive and attracts users that have greater disposable income.

A protected marketplace

Whilst some complain about the heavily regulated environment, it does provide a consistent and stable area to develop on. This means your agency or your own developers can build an app with confidence based on the best practices they have developed over the years.

Safety & security

Part of the reason Apple has built so many rules and regulations into app development is that they put an emphasis on security. This is vital for any business, so they can feel confident that they won’t be easily hacked.

It also gives end-users confidence, which is another reason why they feel more confident in exchanging their data with App Store applications and spending money through purchasing apps or utilising in-app capabilities.

Reduced fragmentation compared to Android

One of the single biggest advantages of iOS over Android is that Apple controls both the software and hardware. Because Android is required to work across multiple devices, with different requirements, it takes a business around 1.5 times longer to develop and then optimise & test any application for the multitude of Android phones. As a result, developing for iOS is much simpler and cost-effective.

Loyal Audience

If you buy Apple products like the iPhone or iPad, you are unlikely to switch. Current data shows that loyalty to Apple is currently at 92%. This is perfect for the start-up business that can only afford to produce one version of its application.

If you know a customer is going to stick to the operating system and hardware device, you exponentially increase the chances that they will stay using your application.

The biggest danger of hardware (and thus software) switching is your application not getting picked up on the new device. Thus, the customer loyalty that Apple has built itself, is a huge plus for your own business and application.

Selecting the Right iOS App Development Company For You

If you have decided that selecting an iOS app development agency is the right move for your business, then it’s important to follow a structured procurement process when choosing the best iOS app development company.

Understand your needs

Answering the following questions will help you when deciding on the best fit for your business.

  • Do you need help developing your idea?
  • Will you want support post development?
  • Are you planning an Android version of the application as well?
  • Can you project manage the development yourself?
  • Do you have experience with iOS development?


These are vital because it is about understanding if the agency can develop to a high standard, that they provide good customer service and if they fit the requirements you have. Talk to their references and ask them questions related to your specific needs

Best practice

Get them to take you through how they work. Understand their app development process, the way they communicate and how they manage the sign off process. You’ll be spending a lot of money and time with the agency, best to understand how they work.

Get real pricing

Never begin working with an agency until you have proper pricing. Don’t accept a proposal that has a lot of variable factors. The agency should be experienced in these types of development projects and thus give you accurate pricing that you can budget for.

Let the Development Begin

Hopefully, we’ve been able to show you the clear benefits of choosing an iOS development, both cost and the superior user experience, as well as look at the different ways to get the most from your iOS app development.

Whether you have chosen a good agency or decided to go the NoCode route and work on the development yourself, you should now be ready to build the next great application for the App Store.
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