iPhone App Development tips
Credit: Gonzalo Baeza via Flickr

Since Apple released the iPhone on 2008 and the App Store opened to contributions from anyone (after review), thousands of people (especially developers) threw themselves into the new industry. The App Store has seen many success stories, however it feels like after 5 years everything is done and there’s not much room for improvement. Wrong! There’s plenty to be done, but the right people have to come and do the job. Here’s what I mean: developers create apps for developers, i.e. people who need IT stuff done, or universal tasks that we all do sooner or later (shopping lists, games, basic image edition, looking for flights etc…). But what about the specialists, the so-called “niches”? If you’re a gardener, you might need an app that helps you remember where you planted the roses this year so that you know what areas you need to water and how often (it can even remind you when you have to do it). But the gardener is not going to go to the developer to ask (he might not even think that an app could help him do that), and a developer is never going to guess that a gardener might need that. However, if we all think about our daily tasks (and I mean the ones specific to our job or particular hobby), I am sure there are several areas where our productivity or efficiency can be improved. Now what’s the problem? We don’t know how to code (let alone submit an app to Apple and go through the review process), and we find it scary. I’d like to change your mind in this sense. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, it certainly isn’t, but you could be very surprised of how fun and entertaining coding iPhone Apps can be. You just have to try. So here I go through 5 tips that will help you start and gain confidence in your idea.

1. Have faith in your idea

Having faith is the most important part. Once you have an idea that would help you personally on your everyday job/tasks/hobby, start putting it into paper and designing the visual interface. This is done by drawing the different screens that the user will navigate through, and making sense out of them (especially, connecting them through unique paths). Stick to this as much as possible during all the development, and change it only if there’s something vital that you need to include/modify. The more changes you have to make, the longer it will take for you to modify all your views and finish.

When you start with the coding, do not jump into the Hello World tutorials – start with your app. You will be a lot more motivated if you see results towards something that is useful, and you don’t need to work on the hard stuff initially, leave that for the end.

2. Keep it simple

Believe me, you can make it in a very simple way by following the templates Apple provides in their Xcode software (Navigation Controller, Tab Bar Controller etc…). Familiarize yourself with the way these work by changing the destination controllers, the navigation bar characteristics etc… Once you know how they work, start putting your customized features into the views. It is a lot simple with the new Storyboards, a graphic interface that connects the design and the code. Always think if the capabilities you’re thinking to include are essential, or if there’s an easier way (or better, a more visual way) to implement them.

3. Stop thinking that coding is difficult - focus on getting things done

Ok, the code will look alien in the beginning. But the great thing about coding is that you can see the effect of whatever change you make on the way the program works. So keep tweaking smaller things and work towards getting closer to what you want to do with your app. Start with small functions (like linking an action to a button) and then as you get confident move to the way a whole view works, with different case scenarios. Small steps mean progress, and progress will keep you going.

4. Work on it every day (even if just a bit)

If you work on it every day, ideas will keep on coming and you will see how you can optimize the parts that are not at their best. Also, coding requires regularity. There are plenty of functions that you’ll need to use very often, so the more you work on it the easier for you to remember those.

5. Take your time

You won’t make an app after a week. Be realistic, even if you work on it for several hours every day, it’s very difficult to finish an app in under a month (very often even professional developers take longer). You also have to think about the graphic interface (if you’re going to do it yourself) and the marketing part (although you can also work on this once the app is released). A good app is better than a halfway app, especially when undergoing the review process with Apple.

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