It’s widely believed that augmented reality apps are the apps of the future, and from a technological perspective, they’re achieving something quite remarkable. AR apps are blurring the lines between the real world and the virtual world. This could dramatically alter our relationship with technology, as we find ourselves transitioning from living with innovation to living amongst it. As such a game-changer, it’s no surprise that many companies are opting to invest in augmented reality apps and applications that utilize other emerging technologies.
However, developing a mobile app is a highly complex process. In fact, due to the degree of variation and customization involved, it’s fair to say that no two apps are exactly the same when viewed from a development perspective. An app’s price tag can increase significantly when you’re faced with integrating cutting-edge technologies, such as augmented reality, virtual reality or artificial intelligence. Curious about what specifications impact app development prices directly? Well, the answer differs according to the technology you’re implementing, so let’s examine augmented reality and the factors that affect development cost for these unique applications.
Factor #1: The Digital Complexity of Augmentation
At the most basic level, an augmented reality app involves adding or layering digital elements over a live camera feed or another representation of reality (i.e. Google Earth imagery). These virtual digital elements can range from a Pokemon character to a measuring stick, anatomical structures or even digital representations of furniture.
Creating a fictional Pokemon animal is relatively easy, as there are no must-follow rules in terms of scale, perspective and movement, aside from the basic laws of physics, which are yours to freely manipulate. But, if you’re dealing with a more realistic application, such as an app that allows you to see how a piece of furniture would look in your home, then you’re going to see much higher development costs due to issues such as scale and perspective.
You could see even greater costs in the case of an AR app that shows you the vascular structures or another anatomical elements when you point the mobile device at a specific body part. In this scenario, the app would need to account for scale and perspective and be able to correctly identify the body part. This increased complexity is associated with higher development costs.
Factor #2: Your Method for Rendering Reality
Will your mobile app use the device’s live camera feed? Or will you need to utilize a third-party source of data—such as Google Earth footage—to represent reality? Somehow, your app will need to render a representation of “reality” on the user’s device, but precisely how you achieve this will vary according to the type of app you’re creating and its exact functionalities.
Applications that use a live camera feed from the device will generally see lower development costs, but if you need to pull footage from Google Earth or another source, you’ll find development to be more complicated and time-consuming. Often, using the device’s live camera feed is ideal as it represents the world that the user sees in front of them. However, there are cases where a third-party data stream is preferable. For instance, you could create an app that allows you to hold up your phone while standing on the sidewalk, displaying pins that represent nearby bars and restaurants. The user could then tap the pin to read reviews, browse the menu or make a reservation. This type of app may work beautifully in the daylight, but it may render in a less-than-user-friendly manner when it’s dark. So, in this circumstance, your developers may opt to display daytime Google Earth footage when the device detects dark conditions. This results in an optimized user experience (UX), but the trade-off is that this third-party integration increases development costs.
Factor #3: Software and Hardware Integration
In addition to digital complexity and reality rendering, the overall app development cost is impacted by the degree of software and hardware integration that’s required for an application. If your mobile app will leverage lots of device software and hardware, you’ll see a fairly complicated integration process. This also results in much higher beta testing costs, since you’ll need to ensure that the coding required for one integration doesn’t adversely impact the integration of another piece of hardware. Your development team will also need to ensure that the app is fully functional on a variety of different device models and operating system versions.
If you’re building a hybrid app for Android and iOS devices, this process can become a bit more challenging, time-consuming and ultimately, costly. However, it can be a worthwhile tradeoff when you consider the alternative: developing two separate native apps—an option that is virtually always more expensive than creating a single hybrid app.
A fairly small number of augmented reality apps may leverage the same hardware you might typically associate with virtual reality, such as VR goggles/headsets and controllers. This adds another layer to your development process, as you’ll need to ensure compatibility with the equipment. This means more time and a higher price tag for the project.
Developing an AR app is no simple feat and a brief exploration of the process and strategies reveals precisely why augmented reality app prices can be so significant. But this is not always the case. Each app is unique, so it’s vital that you speak with an experienced mobile app developer to determine the approximate cost to create the application you’re envisioning. Remember, augmented reality apps tend to engage users to a degree that’s simply not possible with most other applications.
If you turn to SevenTablets, you can proceed with confidence knowing we have experience with the most cutting-edge and emerging technologies, from AR and virtual reality to artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and beyond.
SevenTablets is based in Dallas, Texas. We have additional office locations in Austin and Houston, but our client base is scattered across the United States. If you’re ready to start building an innovative mobile app, contact SevenTablets today.
Lacey earned a B.A. from Baylor University. Sic'em!
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