The Best App Development Companies
Powered by the speed of light apps are not just evolving fast but users find them irresistible. With global projections indicating that by 2023, mobile app downloads and in-app advertising will be generating more than $935 billion in revenues, it is only sensible that large and small businesses want to start investing now.
So, who is worthy of turning your vision into reality? Our curated list of app development companies will not only make your decision easier but will also provide you with some extra tips on what to look for in a prospective partner. Take a look.
2020’s Leading App Development Companies
Average Hourly Rate
WillowTree is not just an award-winning agency but a leader in mobile application development dedicated to delivering outstanding digital products with exquisite UI/UX design. Launched back in 2007 by a team of three enthusiasts, the outfit has since become the workplace of more than 500 full-time employees. The WillowTree team has worked with clients such as 21st Century Fox, Regal Cinemas, Domino’s, and National Geographic.
Founded in 1999 with multiple offices across the US and one in Russia, Mercury Development offers professional app development services of exceptional quality in all areas of digital and mobile transformation. Mercury Development has worked with both startups and Fortune 100 companies and delivered cutting-edge solutions powered by innovative technology.
Appinventiv is a top app development company and winner of the ‘Global Leaders in Digital Inventions’ award with headquarters in New York. Although it was founded fairly recently, Appinventiv conquered the digital market in a very short period of time by building new-age design and technology solutions for startups and Fortune 500 companies.
Venice Beach, CA
Dogtown Media is a mobile app development firm based in Venice Beach, California, with offices in San Francisco, NY, and London. With over 200 apps launched since 2011, Dogtown Media is turning dreams into reality through brilliant design powered by intuitive product strategy.
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco-based ArcTouch is an app development company that follows the latest tech trends in delivering cutting-edge products for phones, tablets, and TVs. ArcTouch has designed and developed lovable apps for Fortune 500 companies, world-class brands, and impactful startups.
Rightpoint is a top mobile app development company from Chicago and an excellent partner for everyone who is ready to take the next step to digital transformation. The team of Rightpoint specializes in designing and engineering end-to-end experiences and products for their clients and promises to ‘create positive human interactions to drive meaningful business outcomes’.
Featured in TechCrunch, Business Insider, and Product Hunt, Netguru is a Polish web and mobile apps development agency and one of the fastest-growing in the EU. The outfit’s core values include exceeding the client’s expectations never settling with just ‘good enough’. Netguru’s projects have changed the way people learn languages, listen to music, and promise more revolutionary changes in the years to come.
Founded in 2010, Magora is one of the leaders in mobile app and web development in the UK and Australia and has successfully completed more than 700 projects in 30+ countries. Magora’s business- and tech-savvy team applies both areas to their development process. With a mission to help their clients achieve value through razor-sharp apps and software, Magora is an excellent partner for realizing long-standing projects and plans.
Poland-based itCraft employs a team specializing in mobile app and web development, UX/UI design, and custom software development. With over 200 successful projects and a rich client portfolio with names such as Deloitte Digital, DHL, Top Secret, Makro C&C, and Bank BPH, there is no doubt that itCraft delivers state-of-the-art mobile innovation and comprehensive software production services.
San Francisco, CA
Strategy, design, and development is how San Francisco-based Cheesecake Lab realizes their mission in building their clients’ successful but also intuitive mobile and web apps. Their customized agile process has delivered exquisite products empowered by a multidisciplinary design implemented by a stellar engineering team to companies such as Singularity University, Lockitron, Tapcart, Skyroam, AES, Portobello, Intelbras.
How We Selected the Top App Development Companies
It takes an experienced party to land a groundbreaking idea for an app otherwise it could all be just a fleeting glimpse of what might have been. Considering the risks, and the fact that it might cost precious time and money, which let’s face it, everyone wants to avoid, we dedicated a lot of effort to investigate every single company included on our list of the best app development companies. From a client portfolio to technical skills and post-launch maintenance, we dived deep into the core of market-conquering entities to assist you in making the right choice. So, here are the key conclusions of our research.
Before even considering going into business with someone who promises to develop robust, scalable, and feature-rich application, it is advisable to see their creations. An application development company with rich experience will without a doubt have an even richer portfolio. Most app development companies openly share their previous work and this is a good starting point to get a clear picture of the type of projects they’ve worked on and whether they have what it takes to fit your needs. If possible, download some of the apps they’ve built for previous clients and investigate their functionalities to give you a better feel of their work.
Expertise & Skill Set
The companies we’ve whittled our search down to are not just experts at web and mobile app development but show a profound understanding of their client’s interests. They’ve represented various clients and have completed hundreds of successful projects which is why they possess the skill set to know exactly what works and what doesn’t. More importantly though, the mobile app development companies make you trust the development process by guiding you through it and informing you of the services they incorporate.
Clean coding is essential to building a superb app but when combined with a spark of creativity the results are undeniable. This is why we looked at web and mobile app development companies with teams that are inclined to think outside the box and prioritize innovative solutions. The technical aspect is not the only task of the app developer. They must also strive to invent new ways to tackle problems and predict potential issues.
A stellar team of app developers should deliver an app that not only looks and feels good but also motivates the customer to install it and use it on a daily basis. The very best app development companies work with talents that value this form of creativity-spiced custom app development.
For this part of our evaluation, we looked at how an application development company collects, gathers, visualizes, and analyzes project- and target audience-specific information. Being able to not only develop products that meet and resolve customers’ existing needs but also predicting future needs is what creates brand new user experiences. All this can be done right if the agency relies on solid analytical skills. In general, app development agencies follow through with this part of the process as it is in their best interest to build products that will occupy app stores, generate more downloads, and power up user usability rates.
Communication & Transparency
What do you think of our idea? What changes are you proposing? How often should we communicate? What are your thoughts about my business plan? Do you foresee any challenges when you start working on the project?
Professional app development demands constant communication which is why we verified reachability and responsiveness. We asked as many questions as possible, assessed the answers, and how long they took. For top mobile app development companies, full transparency is the best way to mark the start of a fruitful partnership. For the client, on the other hand, settling for anything less than a well-defined scope of work and an elabore development strategy, clear deadline and cost is too big a risk. At this junction, we also looked at how ideas are communicated between coders, teammates, and the company’s management.
Whether it is a stimulating gaming app or a social media app to help users better communicate and share content, a huge part of the job of app developers is to solve problems and make decisions that move the project forward. App building companies know that spotting a good problem is much harder than most people think.
The best mobile app developers have a sort of ‘sixth sense’ to detect unseen technical problems and produce intuitive and creative solutions to resolve them. In most cases, they come up with a simpler UX/UI which turns out to be more useful, empowering and rewarding. For developers working on apps for Android or iOS platforms, a special problem-solving mindset is essential. This is because many of the iOS and Android app development companies are always racing to offer better solutions which will get them a winning position in ‘overpopulated’ app stores.
There are two ways in which the app development process can be organized. One is the traditional Waterfall approach where changes throughout the development phases are almost impossible to make and the test phase comes in last. The other one is the Agile approach that allows continuous iteration and testing throughout the development process. In narrowing down the mobile app development companies list we opted for companies that prefer the Agile approach as it delivers better results.
The Agile app development approach is first and foremost more open to communication between clients, developers, managers, and users i.e. testers. This method focuses on fast product development through short iterative cycles called “sprints” and involves numerous demos and check-ins. In other words, the team has the guidelines of what the client wants but they have no clear picture of how this product will look like in the end. This is why demos are conducted frequently and on the basis of client feedback specifications are altered and the next phase is initiated. App making companies that take the Agile or Rapid Application Development approach take the same steps for every item on the guideline until the client is delivered with the final product.
What is beneficial about the Agile approach is it offers a dynamic adaptation to the ever-changing customer wants and needs while at the same time focuses on features that are of the highest value to them. Think of it this way — if you order an app that sells motorcycles you can change your mind midway to include bicycles as well or some other feature. The Agile method takes into account that circumstances change with the development of the project which is why mobile app development companies prefer it. The downside, however, is that it requires client availability, and compared to the Waterfall method, it does not offer such clear-cut cost and deadline estimates.
When it comes to digital product apps especially, it all depends on what you wish to accomplish. Our findings from surveys, analyses, and calculations have helped us set reasonable expectations of how much custom app development costs. If you’re on a shoestring budget, building something basic rather than custom would cost you around $10,000 and there are some stellar app development firms on our list who can do incredible work and still leave room for future upgrades. If you, however, need a team of top app developers to build a more feature-rich product that will say, process payments, use real-time GPS, link with other app users, etc., it might cost up to $700,000. In any case, the median cost of professional app development is $171,450 at a rate of $150 per hour.
Post-Launch Monitoring & Support
So the app launch event is done with balloons, champagne, and all but what happens after? While focusing on the launch is great, it’s also important for the app development companies to prioritize post-launch success and delivery so that the product has a clear direction and continues to meet the objectives long after its market debut.
There are several approaches that companies take post-app-launch but data points to continuous delivery as ideal. This approach is based on performance monitoring and real-time assessment of the project which enables rapid iteration. This means that the company will have a roadmap about which additional features might be required in the future. For top mobile app development companies, the provision of this service goes hand in hand with a framework for assessing and where possible, enhancing the app’s existing features. Having a forward post-launch vision or a continuous delivery of services means a clear product strategy, better KPIs, savings on valuable resources, transparent success metrics, and overall alignment of the app with the business objectives.
How to Choose One of the Top App Development Companies
Your mind is set on migrating your idea to a digital platform. And why shouldn’t you, apps have become fundamental to any business. If you’ve completed your research on app design companies, you are now ready to move on filtering a top app developer to build, test and deploy your app. And since we are well aware of how tremendous a hassle this can be, we’ve selected some winning tips for your consideration. Let’s get started.
Set Your Goals
First thing’s first-prioritize the objectives and needs of your business and define your goals. For example, for industries such as healthcare or logistics more effective mobile app development services are required. So, look for mobile app developers that know exactly what rules to apply in determining the functionality of your product for your niche.
The mobile app developer should have experience in your platform of choice. For example, if you have already chosen to work with one of the many iOS app development companies, you should know that creating exactly the same user experience for a different platform means having a team of guru coders at your side because it is no ‘one-man show’. And finally, although we’ve mentioned that app development companies are diligent in user and market analysis, to better set your goals, you too must research the market demand for your concept and define your target audience.
Consider the Type of App Development Agency
In order to filter the right partner for your undertaking, you first need to consider what you want them to do. Are you in need of an all-inclusive service or do you have the app’s core functionalities ready and need some design rework? Here are some of the types of services provided by the top mobile app development companies:
This means that the whole development cycle or all the services involved in professional app development. Starting with a suitable strategy for outstanding design and flawless development and lastly, reliable post-launch services. If you have an idea and want help with every aspect of the app development this is the best option for you. Our advice here would be to make sure the company relies on dedicated specialists to perform all the services you need.
Design and Development
If you have a business plan, specs, or business strategy then, check our mobile app development companies list since we have included outfits that offer à la carte services. Rest assured whichever you choose to partner up with, it will not just bring your ideas to life and design an app that will stand out from the crowd but will also develop it to fit a growing number of new devices and operating systems. If, however, you already have a partner and they are not on our list, we highly recommend that you follow up on the expertise of their application developers and designers teams as it is the only way to ensure the user experience predicted in the design specs matches the end result.
There are many outstanding app design companies out there and if you’ve already partnered up with someone and have the app designs ready, it means you have completed a major stage of your digital undertaking and now need a company that offers mobile app development services. As this is a critical phase of the process, we would recommend that you go for a full-service agency because they do a more thorough job in discovering the relevant assets and requirements. Whether it is an offshore or nearshore company, be mindful of the language barrier as it is vital that the team of developers and project manager fully understand what the existing designs envision.
Decide on the Type of Front-End Platform
There are three types of apps based on the technology app development agencies use to code them. So how do you decide which one is best fitted for you? Here are our insights:
Native apps are built exclusively for a particular operating system and because of that, there is no “mix and match” option. For example, Android app development companies specialize in building native Android apps that cannot be used on an iOS or Blackberry phone. Java, Kotlin, Python, Swift, Objective-C, C++, and React are some of the programming languages that app building companies use to code native apps and they too are platform-specific.
Due to their singular focus native apps are much faster, more reliable, and in general, highly efficient for the device they are intended for because they are operated as part of the native device’s UI. Using features like Bluetooth, camera roll, phonebook contacts is easy because native apps directly connect to the device’s hardware. Reaching a broader audience, however, is problematic. iOS app development companies that have built an app for iOS would have to use a different code of the same app for a different platform which, unfortunately, takes more time and drives up the costs of app development services.
Hybrid apps are quite similar to native apps but are actually web apps disguised to look native. Mobile app development companies use Ionic, Objective C, Swift, HTML5 to develop them. In terms of responsiveness, home screen app icon, performance and ability to function offline, hybrids are very similar to native apps with the exception that they use a mix of web technologies and native APIs.
The upside to building a hybrid app is that it loads quickly and is much cheaper which makes it a minimum viable product. Hybrid apps are also less demanding for maintenance because they use a single-code base. The downside though, as many app development companies would agree, is that in comparison to native apps they perform worse, lack speed and some of their features might not be usable on devices.
Read Past Clients' Reviews
Reviews are proof of previous achievements. We cannot stress enough the importance of genuine feedback or testimonials from previous clients. In reading the reviews, however, do not settle for the first two or three as they might be biased. In case you get in touch with a customer who has used the app development services of the company you are eyeing, it is good to inquire whether they would choose to work with this company again. Their answer will give you valuable insights and assurance in your future investment.
And finally, try to learn how long it took for the mobile app development agency to deliver on agreed projects or what unforeseen challenges, if any, they faced and more importantly, how they resolved them. This will allow you to be fully aware of the common issues app development agencies are experiencing in the development process and how the one you have marked handles them.
Define a Budget
Money is a big issue but you shouldn’t let it alone drive your decision. Factors that influence the price of app development are the vendor and its location, how complex the app will be, and how many features it will have. You should also consider the back-end infrastructure, what user experience you are aiming for, and finally, the number of platforms you wish the app to work on. If you’re on a humble budget, choosing one of the app development companies that specialize in your niche might be a good idea. This agency will surely have some ready-made solutions and experience to apply suitable technologies and development tools to achieve the best results. And last but not least, starting app development by using simple design is a good way to give birth to your project and enable it to gradually grow in the future.
Questions to Ask App Development Companies Before Sealing the Deal
Check out our list of questions to ask the companies you are considering teaming up with for your app project.
What will be my point of contact during the development process?
Whether it is over the phone, via email, or instant messaging it is of utmost importance to be in touch with the mobile app developer to communicate about the functionality requirements on a regular basis and throughout the process. Otherwise, the company providing you with the app development services might just introduce you to their team of developers and designate a manager in charge for your project as your point of contact.
Is it possible to see some of the apps you’ve developed before?
A prospective mobile application development agency should not have any issues sharing their previous work with you mainly because it is a good way for them to convince you that your investment will pay off big time. It would also be wise to enquire about the ranking of their products in app stores or whether they are featured or not.
Could you elaborate on your development process?
Regardless of whether you choose one of the leading app development companies out there or not, knowing how the outfit works during the most critical time-the app development process is essential. Its reliability depends on how experienced and knowledgeable they are in taking the best development approach possible, which as we’ve said is the Agile.
How skilled are your developers?
Being reassured of the expertise of the people who will be working on your app is a top priority but also you have to make sure that the agency has the savvy developers that will build the features you want and how they would implement them. The app development firms could direct you to their team’s profiles on Github or LinkedIn where you could see their skillset, specific education credentials, list of individual accolades or awards, etc.
How do you integrate monetization features into an app?
If one of your top priorities is to make money from the app, the app developer must have the skills to build in the monetization features. For example, with the pay-per-download, you could charge up to $4.99. However, if you opt for the free app model the developer must be a guru at integrating mobile display ads, paid subscription services, or in-app purchases.
Are you going to submit my app to marketplaces/app stores?
The priority of course not just for you as a client but for mobile app development companies as well, is for the app to get acceptance in an app marketplace, and basically the last step of the developer is to submit it to a store where it can be available for sale. The app approval process is not exactly a simple process as it involves several steps that the developer should know how to successfully implement and navigate.
Will I own the code?
In general, the entity paying for the app owns the final product. That’s said, just to be on the safe side, it’s advisable to sign a copyright or “work made for hire” contract with the app developer to establish that you are the one who owns the app, source code, and its contents.
FAQs About App Development Answered
How can I find the best app development company?
Our list of the best mobile app development companies contains the crème de la crème of teams working on app development. In case you want to do some extra exploration, you’ll find our guidelines on what to look for in an app development agency very helpful.
How much does it cost to build an app?
A rather simple formula for calculating the cost of app development is to multiply the total time spent developing the app by the hourly rate of the company.
How long does it take to build an app?
App development takes a month to a year depending on its complexity. An app that is not very complex and does not have multiple features can take up to nine months. Even the best mobile app development companies require much more time for complex apps and depending on the design and third-party services usage, the project could take over a year.
Is app testing necessary?
App testing is more than necessary, it is a must. Testing is done so as to remove any glitches or bugs. The most convenient way to test it is to run the app on a smartphone it will be used on.
Should my app be developed in Android or iOS?
In order for your app to reach as many users as possible, it is preferable for it to be available on both platforms and many app development companies agree on this. Project timeline, features, post-launch services, and budget and revenue goals must also be considered before deciding between Android or iOS. But since you are building the app to target a certain audience, they will be the ones who will have the final say.