Many aspiring appreneurs need to have an understanding of iOS app development. Fortunately, Apple has made it relatively easy for novices and experts to develop for their key platforms. With powerful tools such as Xcode and the Swift programming language, there’s never been a better time to create unique apps for iOS.
1. The Many Faces Of iOS App Development
While the Apple ecosystem may be pretty cohesive, this isn’t necessarily true for app development. And what we mean by this is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to developing apps for iOS. Quite frankly, this isn’t a bad thing, as developers often require more than one toolchain or methodology to complete their projects.
Now, for most projects, Apple’s proprietary Xcode IDE and Swift programming language are good enough. And this is especially true if you plan on developing native-only iOS apps. Furthermore, utilizing Apple’s development tools and closely following their guidelines will allow you to create high-quality and performance-oriented apps, which would be difficult to achieve using third-party or cross-platform tools.
But what if you’re a small team with a limited budget that wants to support both iOS and Android? Then, you have two options that you should consider carefully. Option one: develop the native iOS app in-house and seek the assistance of a professional studio, such as NS804, to handle native development for the Android version. And option two: use a cross-platform framework such as React Native or Xamarin to develop for both platforms entirely in-house. We firmly believe that you’ll achieve better results with the first option.
2. Beyond The Standard Toolchain
As we mentioned earlier, Xcode and Swift will suffice for most purposes. However, your iOS app development needs may vary, and you may require an additional or more powerful toolchain. Perhaps, you’ve decided to create an augmented reality (AR) app or a mobile game. And then, quickly discover that Xcode isn’t the most efficient tool for the job. What then?
Luckily, there’s no shortage of excellent frameworks and game engines to help you achieve your goals. One of the most popular solutions for developing AR, VR, and mobile games is Unity. And if you require the best possible visual fidelity, you may want to consider Unreal Engine. But do keep in mind that both engines are bloated and heavy on system resources, especially Unreal. So, if your project doesn’t require the latest 3D rendering techniques and particle systems, then you’re better served elsewhere.
For example, if you’re developing a simple 2D game, you may want to use an open-source framework, such as MonoGame. This framework offers developers the bare-essential functionality and integrations with APIs to make fun games for iOS and several other platforms. But if you require a full-fledged engine that’s also lightweight and open-source, then consider Godot. A key benefit of Godot is that it regularly receives updates and optimizations from its vibrant developer community.
3. Understanding APIs And Why They Are Necessary
For better or worse, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are essential components in developing apps. Fortunately, Apple’s APIs are among the best in the industry and help make the development process a lot easier.
But what exactly is an API, and why should you care? In a nutshell, an API acts as a messenger or intermediary between various hardware components and software instructions. We may have an API that generates graphics on the screen based on draw calls in a computer program. And we may also have an API that transfers user data from a smartphone to a server. Thus, developers can accomplish various complex tasks, as these APIs handle most of the heavy lifting.
APIs bring forth many obvious cost and time-saving benefits, and you should use them when necessary. Apple has wisely introduced several useful APIs that every iOS developer should familiarize themselves with:
- Apple Music API – Geared towards apps that require data about albums, artists, chart rankings, music videos, playlists, ratings, reviews, songs, and user-generated content. Also, developers may utilize Apple Music API when creating Android apps and websites.
- Metal – An API that facilitates 3D rendering and data-parallel calculations by utilizing the GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) on Apple devices. It’s used extensively for games, visual-oriented apps, and extensive scientific calculations.
- Screen Time API – Apple’s official screen time system, allowing developers to add time tracking and parental controls without compromising user privacy.
- StoreKit – For developers that need to support in-app purchases in their apps. StoreKit also integrates with Ad Network Attribution, Apple Music, and Recommendations and Reviews in the App Store.
- SwiftUI – A powerful and developer-friendly UI (User Interface) suite, which uses AppKit and UIKit. It allows developers to create modern-looking apps with as little code as possible.
4. The Bare Minimum Requirements For iOS App Development
It’s essential to own at least one Apple Mac computer, which you’ll use to develop your iOS app. Preferably, it should be a recent model for quicker compile times and better compatibility with newer versions of Xcode. You should also own at least one iPhone and iPad to test your app on, even though Xcode provides a simulator. As good as the simulator may be, it’s always good practice to test your app on actual hardware.
After you download Xcode, take the time to familiarize yourself with the integrated development environment (IDE). And if you have prior experience with Objective-C or a similar programming language, the transition to Swift should be easy. But developing for iOS isn’t just about learning Swift, as you’ll also need to comprehend the iOS Software Development Kit (SDK). This SDK consists of several APIs and frameworks, which are essential for your app development journey.
You’ll also want to register an Apple Developer account and become a member of the Developer Program. A key benefit of joining this program is that you’ll gain access to resources that will help you with deployment. Furthermore, you may want to sign up for the Xcode Cloud, a continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) service. Xcode Cloud will allow you to automate your workflow, build in the cloud, and initiate parallel testing.
5. Become Acquainted With The App Store
As an appreneur, you’ll eventually release your app on the App Store, as that’s where your potential customers congregate. But before you launch, you’ll need to understand the ins and outs of the App Store for maximum success. You’ll need to research your target audience and craft an app and marketing message to appeal to these users.
And if you’re releasing on both the App Store and Google Play, you’ll need to understand the differences between these two stores. After all, you’re dealing with two different audiences that have very different expectations. iOS users tend to earn higher incomes and are more willing to pay for apps that show promise. Android users, on the other hand, prefer free apps that are mostly monetized by ads.
iOS app development can be fun and very rewarding with the right approach. In most cases, you’ll want to utilize Apple’s proprietary tools, such as Xcode and iOS Software Development Kit (SDK). But you can always integrate an additional toolchain when necessary. Contact us today to learn how NS804 can help you create phenomenal iOS apps.