10 Steps in Building Your First iOS Application

Contributed by Kerwin (Web Apps & Mobile Apps Developer, Certified Salesforce.com Developer)

10 Steps in Building Your First iOS Application

As a seasoned web developer, I have had my share of different projects and experiences in developing web applications. However, in this day and age, I have become interested in development of mobile applications. I wanted to do it, but I didn’t know where to start. After a few months, though, I was able to come up with my own iOS Application.

Maybe you’d like to start building your first iOS App? Here’s a quick guide based on my experience:

  1. Start with an application idea.
    Of course, to build an app, you have to have an idea of what application you want to build. Do you want to build a game, a utility, or a location-based app? There are many options. I suggest you go with whatever is closest to your heart.Important Note: If you want to release this application on iTunes, you need to come up with a very good quality app idea. iOS apps go through a strict process of review – the app should be interesting, shows a degree of uniqueness, should not be buggy, etc.I decided to build a small “karaoke” app for nursery rhymes, as I was seeing how my 2-year old daughter loved to play those kiddie iOS Apps (and how I was willing to pay for them!).
  2. Plan the application design.
    Before building the application, you need to come up with a design. The design involves a lot of aspects – here’s what you may need to consider:

    1. Screen Designs
      Before making the app, it is important to have your screen designs first. Otherwise, if you start building the application, you’ll find yourself wandering aimlessly thinking how the screen would look like.I wanted to make this app fun for kids. I wanted to have some sort of cartoon character in the app. I am no expert on the creative side of things. So I asked our Creative Designer, to create a group of characters for the app. I gave him my ideas on what the characters would look like. He made them look nice! Look at them (initial sketches of “karaoke” app characters):draft character design
      Later, he helped me create the screen designs of the karaoke app (integrating these cute characters). I liked his designs so I used them. Here’s a sample of my app screen with the characters:

      Character Select Screen

    2. Flow
      You need to come up with the flow of the screens. I wanted to make it simple. I came up with this flow:
      Splash Screen -> Title Screen -> Song Selection -> Play Song -> Play Again or Choose Another Song.
    3. Content
      The content of the app is very important. This is what will make your users use and continue to use your application.For my content, I had to choose some songs for the karaoke app. To make it simple, I chose 2 fairly simple nursery rhymes –“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Row Row Row Your Boat”. Having some experience in recording music, I recorded the songs myself.
    4. Monetization
      I needed to decide on how the app will earn revenue. There are a few ways to do it. I would recommend you check out Google Admob to serve ads.
  3. Get a Mac.
    You need a Mac to build an iOS Application (unfortunate for those Windows loyalists). Thankfully, JWay provided me one.
  4. Get an iOS Developer Account.
    You need to get an iOS Developer Account to be able to publish an application or test it in an actual mobile device. You also need it to get a copy of XCode. You can find information on the iOS Developer Account at https://developer.apple.com/programs/ios/
  5. Download XCode.
    XCode is the IDE for Objective C/iOS development. It’s easy to figure it out.Plus, it’s cool because there’s a drag and drop interface for creating your screens. It also comes with the iOS Simulator, which allows you to test the application in different iOS devices.
  6. Develop the application.
    This is the hardest part for me since I needed to learn iOS development from scratch. I needed to look over a some tutorials on how to start. Lynda.com was a great reference. YouTube was also very helpful. Raywenderlich is a tutorial site I frequently visited and still do to this day.The hard part is that Objective C/iOS Development is a lot different than web application development. Sure, design patterns and programming concepts still apply, but the framework structure is different, testing is different, etc. Developing the app on my spare time, I needed a couple of months to get the hang of things.
  7. Test the application.
    Of course, it is important to test the application to make sure that it works properly.Testing was easy because of the iOS Simulator. I was able to test how the app looked like in different iOS devices.However, it is important to test the application in an actual iOS device. That’s the best way to get a feel of how the app/gameplay actually feels like in an actual device. Using my trusty iPad, I was able to launch the application there and experience how it works.
  8. Submit the application to iOS App Store for approval.
    When the app is finished and has been tested properly, it’s time to publish the app to the iOS App Store. This would allow your application to be downloaded by the public from iTunes.This step is a long discussion in itself. Here’s a good guide on how to do it: Publishing To The App Store. I have yet to decide the right time to submit my “karaoke” app. When I do, I will surely share it here in our blog so please stand by.
  9. Congratulations, your application has been published!
    Congratulations! Now all you need to do is sit back, relax, and wait for your application to earn revenue. Not so fast! Thought it’d be that easy?
  10. Maintain your application.
    It is important to always keep your app updated to support the latest iOS developments and updates. For example.if you built the app for a certain screen resolution, later you may need to modify your application if Apple decides to come up with a new screen resolution (hello iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus!). Otherwise, Apple may decide to remove your app from iTunes if they see that your app does not conform to the guidelines anymore.

There you go. I hope this helps you be on your way to making your first iOS application!

If you have any questions, or would like to share any of your own experiences in building an iOS app, please be sure to send us your comments. Thank you!

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