Making An iPhone App – A Barebones Guide

Developing an iPhone app is a long, complex and arduous process but extremely rewarding both professionally and educationally. It requires dedication to progress to the preliminary steps required to develop a working, desirable application. Why take my advice on this convoluted matter? I personally several months ago, was in the position that you, the reader are presumably in, I had no experience developing applications for mobile devices and indeed minimal experience with the iOS Software Development Kit. I currently have a free quiz application on the app store called ‘Computer Geek Quiz’ which, in its first week as a free app achieved over 700 downloads. I also have several small applications currently under development.

The following process should ease your progression to a bona fide iOS developer.

Step 1 – Learn

Firstly you’ll need to learn Objective C programming. Objective C is the language in which iPhone and OS X applications are generally written. If you’ve programmed before then the methodology and concepts of Objective C shouldn’t be difficult to grasp although if you come from Visual Basic, C++, C, Java then you’ll be struck by the unconventional syntax and the unorthodox way parameters are parsed to methods. I recommend that if you haven’t programmed before then you spend 2-3 weeks minimum absorbing as much theoretical and practical knowledge of the language as possible. Personally I’d advocate learning from Books as you gain professional insight and techniques into programming with the language although YouTube can be a valuable learning resource and there are hundreds of videos on Objective C programming.

Step 2 – Practice

Assuming by now you have a working knowledge of Objective C and indeed object oriented programming as a whole you can progress to the second step which involves learning about Xcode – The iOS Software Development Kit. Learning Xcode is essential to building iPhone applications as a working knowledge of where different objects reside and each of their functionalities is paramount to building great iPhone apps. You will also need to learn how to use ‘Interface Builder’, the program in which the User Interface of your application is designed. Design meaningless test applications using what you’ve learned so far to gain confidence using the Xcode SDK.

Step 3 – Planning

Enough learning for now. Assuming you’ve followed the previous two steps and are viewing this article weeks later then we can start on the actual application development process. We need to identify an application which is in within your newly found programming abilities. Start by brainstorming theoretical problems to which your application could be applied to. You will then need to think ‘programmatically’ and apply software development paradigms to your design. After identifying the design and have a preliminary idea as to how you will implement its functionality then you can start by planning out the UI, perhaps on paper. This step is all about identifying a niche market for your application.

Step 4 – Coding the application

This stage will take perhaps the longest (unsurprisingly) of stages so far. Expect hours of time to be consumed typing furiously at unholy hours and screaming as your code flippantly refuses to compile based on an obscure 600 word error. This stage will test your intellect on many different levels but you’ll get to see the results first hand and your application progressing in real-time which is extremely rewarding and stimulating.

Step 5 – Testing

After the lengthy coding process you’ll probably want to skip this stage and go straight ahead with submitting your amazing application but I cannot urge you strongly enough  to refrain from submitting straight after you get your first compilation. You’re not simply testing whether the app works as intended but the usability and general design. You’ll need to install the application on your iPhone (This requires payment of the yearly $99 Apple development fee) so you can experience how your application will be displayed to your users. It is extremely satisfying to be able to see your app really running on a real device and not simulated through Xcode.

Step 6 – Release

Almost done people, this is the last but unfortunately lengthy stage of the development process. You will upload your code signed application to the iOS store where you will wait for an indeterminable period of time (In my experience 2-3 weeks) for Apple’s Q&A testers to get their Californian hands on your app to ensure that it does indeed work and contribute something to the app store. This is why the previous step is so important, one small error and your application will be denied before you can say ‘adobe flash’. If your app is accepted then you’ll be ready to set a price tier for it and make millions, just feel free to send me a dollar if you do.

That’s all for now, good luck with your iOS development. For my app search ‘Computer Geek Quiz’ in the app store (it’s free).


About Tom (Tommy)
My name is Tom I'm 22 and currently living in the UK. I'm a software engineer. In my free time I blog, take photographs, watch movies and hang out with friends.

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