It’s never been a better time to start developing your first iPhone app.
All you need is a good idea for your first iPhone app, the right tools for the job and plenty of elbow grease! The App Store then takes care of distributing your app to millions of potential users.
People often ask me how to best get started with iOS app development. It’s a question that pops up all the time from new coders and even from more experienced ones!
- What kit is needed?
- Which programming language is best to learn?
- Are there any must have tools to make your life easier?
I’ve put together this handy checklist to get you on your way to iOS app development, so you can get on your way to building the next killer app from scratch and start bringing your idea to life as quickly as possible!
Building an app from scratch is no simple feat, there will be plenty of blood, sweat and tears before you see that shiny icon on the App Store with your name on it! You have been warned. Best of luck! Let’s get to it!
Firstly, You Will Need A Mac
Firstly to develop for iPhone you must have a Mac. No two ways about it, it’s not possible to develop for iPhone without one.
The good news is that it can be any Mac, so it really depends on your budget. I use a MacBook Air 13″ and that works fine for me. However if you can stretch to get a MacBook Pro then I would go with that. But be aware it is a bit heavier to carry around, so if you plan to hang out in trendy coffee shops and code, it’s probably best to get an Air.
Recommended Best Buy
Keep in mind if you are considering buying a used Mac, to double check that it can run the latest Mac OS and latest Xcode.
Check out other Apple Laptops on Amazon to see what deals are currently available.
A Bit Of Paper Work
Next, go to the Apple Developer page and sign up for a free account. This will be sufficient to get started. However you will need to sign up to the Apple Developer Program ($99 per year) if you want to get your app on the App Store and even if you want to run it on your own iPhone. However the good news is that you can still run a iPhone simulator on your Mac using a free account to start coding and learning!
Let’s Code With An X
Once you’ve got your shiny new Mac and stopped staring at it in awe, it’s time to get started. Make sure you are running the latest Mac OS and then open up the Mac App Store and download Xcode. This will be your home for a while. Xcode is Apple’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE) which has lot’s of cool things for you to play around with and help you develop your first app.
Xcode will be used to setup your project, write code, build your app and push it out to your iPhone and ultimately the App Store where other’s can get their paws on it!
And You Will Need An iPhone!
To test your app you will need an iPhone. This will connect to your laptop and Xcode will do some magic to get your app on there so you can play with it and show it off to all your friends.
Next You Will Need To Learn To Code
Many people ask what language to learn. A while back, I would have said Objective C but it’s getting a bit old now and now we have the cooler newer Swift!
A lot of people have heated debates about what is best to learn and even more people seem to think Objective C is going to go away somewhere. It won’t. There are millions maybe billions of lines of Objective C running in millions of apps on the App Store. The man power needed to rewrite them all in Swift would be unthinkable. Mac OS itself is mostly written in Objective C, except the kernel which is in C. So Objective C will be around for a long time yet.
If you want to develop apps for yourself I would say learn Swift, it will be quicker and easier. However if you later plan to go find jobs as an iOS developer you will likely need Objective C or more likely both. If you want a challenge, learn Objective C and build your app then learn Swift for future apps.
Best way to learn is to have a small project to get you started and get coding!
So there you have it to start developing your first iPhone app: you need a Mac, Apple Developer Program access, an iPhone, Xcode and (probably) Swift.
Check out these online courses to start learning today!
Once you get going, be sure to check out my blog post on Useful Free Resources for iOS App Developers for free tools to help you at a later stage.