iOS App Development The 10,000 ft View
Note: This article is part of a larger journey. To see the Table of Contents, click here.
Ok, let’s start at the top.
Before diving into learning the nitty gritty, I think it’s important to have in mind the high level picture of what we’re trying to achieve.
(Or at the very least, what the Apple eco-system for app development looks like)
Apple distributes apps through its App Store. In order to get access to publish apps there, you need to join their Apple Developer Program which costs $99/year. This lets you publish as many apps as you want across all of their device platforms.
Xcode has a visual designer where you can design your user interfaces.
Apple has a free Mac application called Xcode which we use to write the code and design the user interfaces for our apps. (PC users, I’ll outline the options for you in the next section)
The Swift Programming Language
The code you need to write follows a certain syntax and grammar just like any other language, for example English or Spanish.
For writing the app logic behind each app screen, we use the Swift programming language.
So now you understand that you design your user interface and write your Swift code inside Xcode.
Another thing you might want to consider is to add a database to your app.
Having database functionality means that your app can save and retrieve data, you can have user accounts, you can allow your users to create data that other users can see, sync data between devices and more.
There are several options out there but databases are an intermediate level topic so that definitely comes a little later.
At this point, your app is using standard out of the box user interface elements from Apple. (Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.. it’s got a familiar look and feel that iOS users are familiar with.)
If you want to give your app a unique, custom look and feel, then you’ll need to get some graphic assets made and import them into your Xcode project.
Some people get a designer to create the graphic assets but you can also create them on your own using programs like Sketch, Photoshop and Figma. This is a topic we discuss later in your iOS development journey.
Publishing your app
After that, we’re finally ready to publish your app.
In order to do that, you must be a member of the Apple Developer Program I mentioned earlier.
If you don’t enroll in their program, you can still install the app on your own device but only for testing purposes.
After 7 days, the app will expire and you’ll have to plug your device into the computer again to re-install the app and get 7 more days.
Assuming you enrolled in the Apple Developer Program, you now get access to a web portal called App Store Connect where you’ll create the app store listing.
Add the app screenshots, set a description, set a price and then go back to Xcode to upload the app to iTunes Connect.
Apple will take a few days to review your app to make sure if follows the guidelines. If it fails, you can just fix it up and resubmit it. There’s no limit.
If it passes, congratulations! 🎉 Your app will be live in the App Store!
Now that you have the big picture, let’s talk about what you’ll need to get started.