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How Much Does Wearable App Development Costs?

By Prateek Saxena
March 3, 2020 8. min read
Last update on: September 3, 2020

Wearable industry has crossed all leaps and bounds to become a mainstream sector that is here to stay. 

There was a time, not too long ago, when wearables were presumed to be a dead sector attracting bottom line attention from the users and investors alike. But, the two tech giants – Apple and Google kept the sector breathing. 

Now with Google acquiring Fitbit and Apple launching a new powerful WatchOS in iOS 13, the innovation wheel is once again moving at a high speed. 

This article is intended to answer a simple question for all the entrepreneurs who are looking to enter the space which is fresh for innovation – How much does wearable app development cost?

But before we head on to the parts and elements that would define the answer, let us give you the clarity on the fact that whether wearable technology is mere fashion or is here to stay. 

Table of content

  1. Wearable Technology Market
  2. Types of Wearable Apps and Platforms
  3. Factors Affecting the Wearable App Development Cost
  4. How to Reduce Wearable App Development Cost?
  5. FAQs About Wearable App Development Cost

Wearable Technology Market 

It is anticipated that by the end of 2020, there will be more than 830 million wearable devices active in the market. There are a number of different statistics and facts that would come together to define the wearable technology market 2020 and beyond. 

Here’s a statistic highlighting them. 

Wearable Technology revenue stats

Types of Wearable Apps and Platforms

At present, the presence of wearable applications has been seen mostly in the sector of health, fitness, and entertainment. For attending to these three types of wearable applications, there are multiple platforms that have been introduced in the market. 

As a simple rule, the cost of wearable app development will be dependent on the number of platforms you will be active on.

1. Smartwatches

Smartwatches have been acting as a companion for smartphone applications for a very long time. But the time is soon changing and we have already started seeing the introduction of standalone smartwatches as well. 

When we look at it from the app angle, there’s a reason why the android watch app development and apple watch app development – the high adoption rate. 

  • Apple Watch 
  • Android Wear
  • Samsung Gear S Series 

2.  Activity & Fitness Trackers

Attending to the health conscious niche, these wearables are focused on giving real-time health status updates to the end users. These wearables are designed to replace not smartphones but regular watches. 

  • Garmin
  • Fitbit
  • Samsung Gear Fit

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3.  Smart Glasses 

While not as immersive as VR headsets, Smart Glasses add additional layer of information on top of the users’ view of the world. They can be used a variety of tasks ranging from general consumer applications to highly industrial and technical tasks. 

  • Epson Moverio
  • Sony SmartEyeglass
  • Daqri

4.  VR Headsets

VR headsets are one of the immersive wearable devices active in the world today. It is also the one that has found most applications across industries (the combination of VR and Wearable is majorly seen in the Healthcare domain) and has found a place in the discussions around the benefits of wearable apps. They are designed to give the users both a real and virtual view of the world, or even a combination of both the views. 

  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive
  • Google Daydream View
  • Google Cardboard

Factors Affecting the Wearable App Development Cost 

Answering how much does it cost to make a wearable app is an activity that would need to take several things into consideration. 

Since we are not talking about any specific app type but are estimating cost of developing wearable app as a whole, we will dive into this section holistically. What we mean by this is that we won’t mention the wearable app features or the wearable app tech stack at a specificity level, like we do when we cover the cost estimate of specific applications. 

We will, instead, give you an idea of what you should look for when preparing the wearable app development cost breakdown. 

Here are the factors affecting the cost of wearable app development. We decided to keep the factors the same as the stages of wearable app development because ultimately, wearable or not, the cost of app development falls down on the app development process detailings.

1.  User Research 

At Appinventiv, we include user research and product design sprint as part of the mobile app development cost estimate. We don’t charge exclusively for designing the user profile and research. But there are brands that do. 

In case you come across a brand which does, here’s what they will be doing for you. 

They will be creating a venn diagram. On one side they will keep the users who are most likely to use your application and on the other, the ones that uses wearable technology. There on, they’ll find a sweet spot where the two will meet. 

wearable app users venn diagram

While the first part of the diagram would vary from one app type to another, the other part, which looks into the user type that is most likely to adopt wearable technology has been studied by our team of Business Analysts

Here’s a visual representation of the finding.

wearable app user info

2.  App Design 

The next element of the wearable app development cost will come into the picture when your partnered mobile app design agency would build UI for the wearable app

Designing wearable applications is VERY different from designing mobile or tablet apps. A normal Wear OS usually comes with four prime interaction points: watch faces, notifications, voice commands, and native apps.

For the sake of this article, let us look at the wearable design from the perspective of smartwatches. This is what you will have to understand when we talk about design specific cost to build smartwatch app

wearable app ui

Notifications: It displays contextual, ambient data. It is generally what makes users launch an application. It offers a lightweight experience, for example answering a message, playing a song, or opening a location on a map. 

Watch Face: In the end, a smartwatch is a watch. Noting that, if yours is a time based application, you will have to give it a watch like look and feel. 

Wear Apps: These are the applications, your application, which would most likely work without any connection with a smartphone application. In case of these standalone wear apps, you can either follow the same design principle as your smartphone app or make a new one from scratch. 

Voice Commands: Majority of the smartwatches in the market today (or ones in pipeline) come with the functionality of voice commands. Meaning, users will be able to initiate commands from their voice. As a Product designer, it would mean a special attention to designing a voice based UI interface

At Appinventiv, we follow some rules when it comes to designing for wearables, here are what they are:

  • Design elements favoring Glanceability 
  • Designing for Lightweight Interactions
  • Minimalism in UI and UX
  • Introduction of Non-Visual User Interfaces
  • Offline Usage. 

3.  Wearable Apps Development 

In case of Android: Wearable apps are developed in almost the same way as other apps which use Android SDK, but they vary in terms of design and functionality – after all, the interactions will be a lot less when users would use the app on their watch. 

What affects the cost of smartwatch app development is its difference from the development of phone apps –

In case of iOS: Development of smartwatch apps for Apple come with its own set of intricacies. This increases the cost that a wearable specialist iOS app development company would charge. Apple has come up with a new watchOS 6 version along with a slew of APIs to help developers build robust app experiences. They have also come with the functionality of enabling the development of standalone Watch apps.

4.  App Testing 

When you compare the cost of testing a smartphone app versus that of wearable application, the testing and app maintenance costs will be higher in case of the latter. 

Here are the elements that ups the cost in case of wearable app testing. 

  • Syncing of data between a smartphone application and their connected wearable app. At a detailed level, multiple things have to be tested – app performance when the bluetooth connection is lost, what happens when one device switches off, etc. 
  • Difference in screen size poses as one of the biggest challenges in developing wearable apps
  • The battery life of the primary device has to be kept into consideration when testing a wearable application. Our QA experts look into different instances where the primary device is switched off, to see how the data would get affected. 
  • There are very few emulators present in the market. This, in turn, automatically increases the cost to build smartwatch app.

5.  Choice of Technology Stack 

There is hardly any difference in the choice of technology stack when developing a smartphone app versus when you develop wearable application. A wearable app development company will use almost the same set of technology stack that their best mobile app development companies counterparts use.

6.  Location of the Agency 

The average cost of developing wearable app also varies greatly depending on the location of the agency. The average hour in the case of an agency which is in Eastern nation will be between $35 to $60. While the same job will be done in an agency belonging to a Western nation in the range falling between $80 – $120. This is the reason why entrepreneurs generally look for outsourcing their app project.   

The factors that you read above are the ones that have an impact on the wearable app building cost. As you can imagine, these factors can cumulatively add to the app development cost and make it huge. 

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This high expense brings us to the next point. 

How to Reduce Wearable App Development Cost?

ways to reduce app devlopment cost

Don’t rely on un-intelligent sensors 

Majority of the wearables active in the market today run on un-intelligent sensor-laden devices (SLDs). The need of the hour is that smart wearable devices should process data independently and act as more than a mere remote sensor.

So, you will have to ensure that the wearable app is based on an intelligent node with the capability of becoming a full-fledged computing system.

Be prepared to update and expand 

As a brand trying to create a name in the wearable app market, it will be important for you to be prepared for changes. The technology is in a constant improvement mode. Meaning, it would be unwise to invest heavily in wearable hardware and software, which will only be wither merged later or replaced. 

Idea first, device second

Instead of going with a device which is most in trend in the current time and then thinking of a business idea, take the opposite approach. Find an idea first and then think of the device that would best complement the idea. 

[Also Read: Tips for Wearable App Development]

FAQs About Wearable App Development Cost

1. How to develop a smartwatch app?

The process of developing a smartwatch app is almost similar to the process of developing a smartphone application. The steps ranging from research and design to development and testing are the same as mobile apps. The only difference is in the approach. The intricacies of the smartwatch app design is not what is required in mobile apps (extent wise).

2.  How to estimate the cost of wearable app development?

The estimation of wearable app development cost depends on factors such as features, number of platforms, design complexities, development approach, etc. Read the article to know the process of how wearable app cost is calculated.

3.  How to make money with a wearable app?

The sure shot way of making money with a wearable application will be through linking it with a smartphone application and following the monetization models like in-app advertising, in-app purchases, subscription model, etc.

Prateek Saxena
Prateek Saxena
Co-founder of Appinventiv
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