In the 21st century, the idea of anyone living without Internet and mobile phone is next to impossible. As we use mobile phones for several day-to-day activities, mobile phone apps have become an integral part of our lives.
One of the most common phrase these days is ‘There is an app for that’. Rightly so, as there are more than 3 million apps in the app stores. Many of us are either developing an app or, have an app idea we want to develop.
This blog is geared towards providing you with insights on how to develop an app for iPhone or iPad. This blog is for you if you are just curious about App development or wish to become a developer of an app for iPhone/iPad
Let us first make sure that we have the right development platform needed to develop an iPhone/iPAD app.
Mac OS – To develop an app for iPhone/iPad, a Mac computer that can work with the latest OSX (mac OS 10.11.5 or later) is necessary. Even a Mac mini is sufficient for the requirement. Though the app development is for an iPhone/iPad, these cannot be used for the actual development.
The software used for development is called the XCODE and needs to be installed on the Mac system, the requirements being the latest Mac OS with at least 4 GB of free space. It is the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) from Apple that is used to develop the app for iPhone and iPad.
For those who just want to try iPhone app development before investing in a Mac system, can do so by accessing XCODE from Macincloud.com for a nominal fee per hour. Thus, one can explore app development without a Mac computer.
Alternatively, for those who would like to develop iOS app on Windows, a simulation of Mac OS X on Windows is possible with the help of any virtualization software like VirtualBox. It is a user friendly Open Source software.
Essential components of an app
Following are the two essential components of an app:
1) User Interface
2) User response and the logic behind a response
XCODE is used to create these two components and it has to be downloaded from the Appstore. User Interface is designed using the Visual Editor, where elements can be dragged and dropped.
Code editor allows you to do programming part for the app i.e. developing user response and the logic behind it.
iOS Simulator is used to test the layout of the app on different models of iPhone and iPad. This is essential to ensure that the developed app looks elegant on all models and the layout is such that the features are all accommodated within the multiple screen sizes.
Swift and Objective-C
Swift and Objective-C are languages that use XCODE to develop the apps. Swift uses XCODE 8 while Objective-C uses XCODE 5. Unlike XCODE, you don’t have to download Swift or Objective-C. You just have to follow the syntax and rules applicable to the languages.
Swift is the new programming language created by Apple for iPhone app development. Before Swift, the app development used to be done using Objective-C. Swift is considered ‘easier’ as compared to Objective-C.
Objective-C has traditional coding syntax and hence, non-programmers may get demotivated. However, learning Objective-C and coding an iPhone app using the same becomes fun after the initial hard work. Encourage yourself to surpass the hurdle and start enjoying the creation of the app. Swift, on the contrary, is quite easy to learn and non-programmers can enjoy using it right from the beginning.
Learning the Swift language
To code the app, a little knowledge and hands-on experience with Swift are necessary. If you are a beginner and do not have any programming experience, you can practice coding with ‘Complete the code exercises’ in the Swift Playgrounds App which is an app available on Appstore and iTunes. A quick tour of Swift in the website http://developer.apple.comgives the beginners a grip on the basic essentials. Other reliable sources for learning are Codecademy and video tutorials from universities like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford.
With such abundant online resources and sufficient practice, learning Swift for your project won’t take a long time.
Here are a few points to consider before starting the development.
Things to be considered before starting the development
Decide on the basic objectives and the goals of the app. A music app should play tracks and a camera app should capture pictures. Once the basic objectives are identified, you can work on detailing the app’s functionalities.
After deciding the objectives, you can identify the scope for expansion. This process gives clarity on the features the app can provide to its users. You can consider and explore similar apps in your category for essential and extinct features.
This is a very important component that decides the success of an app. The User Interface must be simple and attractive. Depending on the audience, the theme and elements of the User Interface have to be decided. If Kids are your target audience, the User Interface must be colorful and easy-to-use. Kids love large buttons and large fonts and are not big fans of minimalistic design. Similarly, If the app targets news readers, the interface should have multiple divisions for different categories of news items. . Links, images, and videos must be on the page without compromising readability.
Assets and resources:
Identifying the necessary tools to develop the logic and the User Interface is the final step before starting the development. With the Integrated Development Environment, a developer gets access to a large portfolio of images, buttons, and icons. However, developers may require more graphics and audio resources which they need to gather beforehand.
Once the app is submitted to the App store, the developer has to wait till the app is approved by Apple. Until a few months back, this process of approval took a week’s time. Nowadays, the approval process takes just 24 hours.
Submit the developed app to App store:
After we are done developing and testing our app, the final step is to submit it to the App store. There is an Apple developer program called the iOS developer program for a fee of 99 USD per annum. With this program, an app developer can submit as many apps the developer wishes to in a year, for either sale or free download. Moreover, the developer can access the Beta versions of many Apple software that are in the development stage and are yet to be launched.
Alternatively, using your Apple id, you can register as an Apple app developer and develop apps which can be deployed on an iPhone but, cannot be sold on App store.
Along with a membership to the iOS developer program, a developer needs to connect with iTunes connect to submit the app to App store.
Reasons why App Store may reject your app
Apple frequently rejects apps for many reasons. Typical reasons listed on the Apple website are listed below:
Crashes and Bugs:
Completely tested apps are expected. If the app is found to be incomplete, crashed during testing or have bugs on the app features, the app will most likely be rejected.
All links on the app must be functional. Any broken link can be a reason for rejection.
If the app is incomplete without images, it might be rejected.
Incomplete information, inaccurate descriptions, and misleading user content are all considered to be valid reasons for rejection.
Substandard user interface:
The user interface must be clean, user-friendly and highly engaging. Otherwise, the app does not receive approval.
Repeated submission of similar apps:
Repeated submission of similar apps is also called ‘spamming the app store’. If you release an app with different titles by adding a few different features using same code-base, your app may get rejected. Try to combine such apps into a single app to avoid such situations. Apple discourages such submissions by citing the reason: ‘spamming of the App Store with multiple versions of similar app’. The iOS Developer Program removes your apps if you indulge in ‘spamming the App Store’. Spamming app store may result in removal of your developer account.
If you have to release multiple variations of the same app, you may do so by providing the variations as in-app purchase.
What after publishing your app?
Your work does not end with the development and publication of your app in the App store. All your efforts can go in vain if nobody downloads your app. Hence, to maximize the number of downloads, you need to make your app visible to a larger audience with the help of ASO (App Store Optimization) techniques.
We have compiled an ASO checklist for the initial ‘optimized’ steps of setting up an app to ensure maximum visibility. You can download the checklist from here.
You can develop an iOS app for iPhone or iPad successfully by using right development tools, resources and well-designed plan. If you come up with an idea that solves a user problem, your app can be successful commercially too.