Top 8 Hidden Cost of App Development [You Must be Aware of]

The demand for mobile apps is spreading like wildfire across business niches today. Businesses are opting for mobile apps to become popular all the while building brand. People are in search of new and innovative apps and this is made possible by app developers. This has very much increased the demand for mobile app developers in the market. Businesses of today are more app-oriented and consider it as an important factor for their success.

For a business, the app development requirement starts by hiring the app developer or development team for the job. Such app developers or development team will work towards designing, developing and delivering the app as per your needs. Such an app will help you build online visibility and gain huge profits in business.

So, now the point is that app development does not happen for free. You need to spend money to build an app and it is an expensive affair. You may try your best to squeeze in the costs, but the hidden charges disrupt everything.

So what are these Hidden Costs of App Development?

Mostly, businesses may have an in-house team or hired developers to take care of the app development. They may have a general idea of app development but are not clear about the complete process in detail. This leads to issues when the actual costs of app development move ahead and this affects the budget badly. No doubt developing the app is the main purpose. However, then it comes with additional costs like designing the app UI, testing and maintenance.

1.     The scope of the app changing

Before you bring your app idea to the developer, you need to pay for the scope. This means that every change in your scope in the middle will be charged by the developer. You can work towards eliminating this issue by properly researching the app idea and clearly creating a thorough user journey. When done well, you will be able to eliminate any chances of changes further. You need to decide the main features for your app in the first place. You need to decide the user flow and the kind of content you want to include in there. Your developer must have a clear idea about your needs in the first place.

Changing Scope of the App

When you are all set to hire app developer, just be sure you do a thorough background check and signup for a fair contract. You should take the time to check the references. Further you can speak up with the former clients to know about their experiences. If you can get your hand on “back door” references, you should go ahead with it. Back door references are nothing but the clients which your chosen app development company has not listed in their client list.

2.     App development costs increase with hosting and servers

Once you have developed the app, you need to store its information and content at someplace. A server is a software program which takes up the requests, processes it and then returns a response. Most of the apps in the market need to have a backend server.

Such a server plays the role of managing app content and user information, retrieve data, and send push notifications. When it comes to cloud hosting, you can make use of mBaaS or build your own server; many of the engineers prefer to go for Amazon Web Services.

App development Costs Increase with Hosting and Servers

The thing you need to understand is that the hosting cost solely comes on to your head and that you may not be informed by your development company. They may even not mention this into the MoUs or NDA documents. Therefore, if you are technically sound or new to this sector, knowing this will help you save some good sum of money. At least, you can plan in advance to tackle this and it is possible that you may get it at the cost effective rates.

3.It is inevitable to have regular app maintenance

Building an app is not the end of the story. You need to take care of it for the rest of its time. This is where app maintenance services come in. So, whatever takes place after developing the app is included in this section. Mobile or web app and even websites require regular updates, maintenance and technical supports. Your developers or development companies may tell you this or may not, but you need to know this. Maintenance supports, mostly offered by development companies and it is their responsibilities. Some companies offer this service free while some provide paid services, but you need to ensure this in the very beginning.


The right app developers keep an eye for the operating system updates for Android and iOS apps as well as performs system maintenance of the app every couple of months. They need to update their servers regularly and also checks in for security updates. This means that the development of the app should not be the end of your contract with the app developers. So before the app development commences, you need to also inquire about the app maintenance costs charged by them. This will save you from any surprises later.

4.     App security is important and not free

You need to include effective security plan into your app. A major part of the developers is not entirely confident about the security of their code. This issue can be resolved by having a proper plan for app security.

There are a few things that developers should keep in mind and you should have an idea about and they are:

Cost of App Security
  • Don’t go for the codes of third-party assuming them to be safe. Developers have the habit of using codes from others. It is important to verify the codes from those sources.
  • You need to be sure whether the developer has the habit to test code at every step of the process looking for a security gap.
  • Limit the access permissions in your app. You should not offer unnecessary access to contacts or camera in your app unless it seems to be necessary.
  • There should be provision for code reviews within your contract to check whether it can be exploited or not. If this was not planned before, you should include this at the earliest.

Just keep in mind that when you look into the points mentioned above, the app process will turn out to be lengthy compared to what you expected and this will increase the costs too. However, in the long run, this will ensure the app is safe and secure enough for the worth of your money.

Your app must manage to evolve with the upcoming new security laws. This means if your app grows bigger with time, then you will need to include in new security features through the upgrade process so as to ensure the app users are protected. There are also chances that you may not have thought about having features which are compliant with the law earlier when planning the app but, with the time you will have to be ready to make payment for the same.

5.     Regular iterations are important for the app Development

Your app is a thing which is used by app users and so is considered living in nature. The best apps should be able to monitor the behavior of the app users and ensure to include changes accordingly. So once the app is released, it will change and evolve.

There are a number of free and paid tools available in the market which you can make use of to get better insights into user behavior and for in-app analytics. Which pages in the app are most liked by the users? Which areas of the app are very seldom visited?


Are there any features within the app which the users don’t find to be easy-going?

Such kind of information will let the businesses and app developers to have an idea about what changes should be made over the iterations.

Now, based on the priority and importance of iterations, each of them will be paid one and this means additional costs on your development budget. Alternatively, else, you will have to plan iterations with a monthly retainer.

6.     App store costs

All the apps are built keeping the entry to the app store in mind and so if you are going in the same direction, you need to keep certain things in mind. This is not something which you will be informed by your developers or development companies. They are not bound to if it explained in agreement paper. You need to ensure right before signing the agreement whether you or your development companies or developers have to manage deploying the app to the app stores.

You need to know that you can get to the app store for a fewer amount, but it is not a free service.


To get your app on the Apple App Store, they charge $99/year while on the Google Play Store, there is just a one-time fee of $25. – Source

This is not new news but, for businesses, it is good to have some knowledge of the same.

Moreover, when you want to have your app to be present on the app store, you will have to surrender some of the control to them. This means your app will only be on the app store when you play by their rules. Now the rules can change and it can question the very existence of the app on the store. This means you will have to make the necessary changes in the app and keep it updated with the latest changes. Again, changes mean additional costs.

7.     Cross-platform development costs

When businesses set their foot into the world of mobile app development for the first time, they quickly understood that here everything is complex and not the same as building business applications. They have a blind feeling that the developed app will work across all the platforms equally. In reality, things are different. If you want to build native applications to work as cross-platform, you will have to develop separate applications. Now if you’re going to move from mobile to tablet, the same rule applies here. This means you will have to develop different applications as a single one will not work there.

Cross platform development costs

Generally, there are two dominant platforms iOS and Android and you need two different native apps to run across the two platforms. However, for tablets, you don’t need to make separate apps as single native app can run simultaneously across different devices from the same OS. However, exceptions can’t be ruled out as you can see, PayPal for iPhone cannot be functional on iPad, though it is forbidden by the brand itself. You can get multiple APKs crated for the single apps. But the things you need to understand is these are remain hidden from agreement and you know only after you get the project delivered. So, make sure that you have native apps which can run across different devices on same OS.

8.     App designing costs

If you think that the developer will design your app, then you are wrong. The developer develops the code while the designer creates the app to deliver the unmatched user experience. If you want your app to be successful and stay in the market for a long time, you should definitely go for designers. For an app user, the experience is the most important element and so it should be designed without the support of skilled designers. Poorly designed UI/UX with confusing navigation will lead many users to leave the app. Hiring designers may seem to be an extra cost, but it is worth going for.

App designing costs

So, if you have hired development companies, then you need to ensure that the company is going to handle all its designing and development part. When there is an individual developer, then you need to make it clear about designing charge. If you are not aware this, then you need know this before you handover the projects. In short, if you are developers, then you may get cost-effective solutions, but at the end of the day, you will find that you have to spend more than you expected. Better, hire developers from a development company get everything mentioned in the agreement.

Final thoughts

App development is not at all a cheap affair. Further the end cost of development may not be the same as initially discussed. You need to find the right app development partner who can ensure that there are no hidden costs and you don’t get exhausted in the end through app maintenance, updates and hosting costs. The developer should be clear about app iterations as well as addition and testing of new features constantly and this has to be included in the app development at the first stage. Only then the app development process will become a smooth one for both parties.

Mobile app development

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    Ronak Patel

    Ronak Patel, the CEO of Aglowid IT Solutions, is a NASSCOM member and a published writer in top tech publications like DZone and Hacker Noon. With a background as a full-stack developer, he brings a wealth of technical expertise. Ronak's marketing acumen complements his technical skills, ensuring the delivery of innovative IT solutions that excel in the market.

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