Learning how to make an app for iPhone, iPad or iPod is an exciting way to create fun and profit – but you will need all the tools, skills and careful planning first.
Learning how to make an app for iPhone or iPad that users want to download and use is a truly remarkable experience that not only would bring a lot of fun for your users but would rake in significant profits for you as well. You need not be highly skilled coder or software developer to come up with a hit application. The key here is to have a great idea for an app – an idea that people would really like enough that they would be willing to throw in a few dollars to get a copy.
Just take for example Carla White from Happytapper who created the acclaimed Gratitude Journal app. The app was very popular in the Lifestyle category for a long time that famous personalities, TV shows and publications such as Oprah, John Tesh, USA Today, Successful Living, Mac World and a whole lot more took notice.
But what’s amazing about her is that she knew little about interface design, software development, write app codes, or Photoshop. She simply hired a developer for $500 to do all the technical stuff and build app codes around her ideas and design.
With the Apple Store shattering the 10 billion download mark in only 30 months time, more and more developers are jumping into the melee to design, develop, build and market their apps. If you want to do the same and make your idea a part of the 325,000 already available in the App Store – then your journey begins here.
How To Get Started Making An iPhone App
iPhones are still the hottest selling gadgets in the market today and still maintains a large gap over its competitors who are all gaining momentum and wanting to have a piece of Apple’s pie. This tremendous growth can be primarily attributed to the popularity of apps that extend the basic functionality of this smartphone. Without these apps, iPhones would be nothing more than fancy-looking cellular phones.
Still, you would still hear many iPhone users anywhere making statements such as “if only an app could do this…” or saying “It would be more fun if this app could do this…” despite the myriad apps already available in the market. What this implies is that people with an entrepreneurial or pioneering spirit can still go out there, learn how to make an iPhone app, and create one that would not only bring lots of fun but lots of profits as well.
Going back to Carla White, she began by hatching this idea for an app that she thinks would bring loads of fun for users and probably make some profit along the way. Her lack of knowledge in this field did not stop her from pursuing her goals and learned how to work around her incapacities, sought help from proper resources, and stick to her dream ‘til the end.
And it all began with an idea…
Brainstorming, Analyzing Ideas And Performing Competitive Research
The first step in anything is usually the hardest and this applies to building an iPhone, iPod or iPad app. For if you have not done the proper research or failed to perform your first step properly, you would definitely fall short of what you have hope to achieve. Any ideas for an app that you think is really great according to your perspective may not have the same effect with a great deal more people – so you need to make sure that it does before anything else.
The safest and most practical route would be to check on what activities smartphone users are actually doing with their devices. Information from market research firms such as the mobile activities reports from comScore Mobilens can put you in the right direction. These reports provide 3-month average data of what mobile users in the United States, Europe and Japan are doing during that period.
The latest report indicated that Americans put playing games at the top spot, followed by information searches, social media / video sharing, navigation and communication. In Europe, social media / video sharing takes top spot followed by games, music, communications and searches. Japan has a slightly different preference with searches at the top spot, followed by sports info, navigation, social media and games.
What is notable however is the extent social networking is being accessed to by smartphone users in the United States. The report indicated that 57.3 percent out of the 36.2 million US smartphone users accessed a blog or a social networking site at least once a month. Facebook contributed greatly to this growth with 90 percent of US smartphone users and 85 percent from European enthusiasts using this social networking site, followed by YouTube, Twitter and MySpace.
All these information can give you insight to what people in your targeted markets are doing more frequently with their iPhones so you can align your ideas with what these people would prefer. You could research further about what people need in these categories. You don’t need to develop the next Facebook, Twitter or YouTube (unless of course you really can do it) but you can develop apps that would the social networking experience a lot better.
Surveying The Marketplace
Now that you’ve got an initial idea of what type of app you would like to do, the next step would be to have a clear understanding of what people are actually downloading from the app store – the types of apps that people find interesting enough to shell a few dollars for.
The best source would be the App Store itself. Apple already released their listings of the most popular iPhone, iPad or iTouch app choices of 2010. The most remarkable insight that anyone could derive from this list is the clear dominance game apps in all categories, followed by social network and entertainment. Here’s the list:
Top 10 Paid Apps for iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch
- Angry Birds – Game
- Doodle Jump – Game
- Skee-Ball – Game
- Bejeweled 2 + Blitz – Game
- Fruit Ninja – Game
- Cut the Rope – Game
- ALL-IN-1 GAMEBOX – Game
- The Moron Test – Entertainment
- Plants vs. Zombies – Game
- Pocket God – Entertainment
Top 10 Free Apps for iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch
- Facebook – Social Networking
- Angry Birds Lite – Game
- Words With Friends Free – Game
- Skype - Social Networking
- Tap Tap Revenge 3 – Game
- The Weather Channel – Weather
- Paper Toss – Game
- Bing – Search Engine
- ROCK BAND FREE – Game
- Talking Tom Cat – Entertainment
Top 10 Grossing Apps for iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch
- MLB.com At Bat 2010 – Sports ($14.99)
- Angry Birds – Game ($0.99)
- Call of Duty: Zombies – Game ($4.99)
- Bejeweled 2 + Blitz – Game ($0.99)
- FriendCaller 3 Pro – Social Networking (Free but with In-App call purchases)
- Zombie Farm – Game (Free but with many In-App purchases)
- TomTom U.S.A. - Navigation / GPS ( $39.99)
- TETRIS – Game ($0.99)
- Plants vs. Zombies – Game ($2.99)
- Doodle Jump – Game ($0.99)
If you’re going to want to make money with iPhone apps, you’re definitely focusing in the right area as glancing a quick look at the list would immediately tell you that apps that deliver much fun, entertainment and excitement for the user would be the most profitable ones of them all. So get your gear ready and start making that iPhone app.
What You Should Know to Make Apps For iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch
If you’re knowledgeable with writing codes or developing programs, then you clearly have the advantage and become a one-man app development team.
Again, going back to Carla White’s story. Although she she knew little about how to make an iphone app, she did outsourced most of the programming and technical work to a professional developer for $500, and she also went out of her way to study Photoshop concepts and use what little she know to design the look and feel of her app and make her idea – her story – come to life.
Therefore, even if you do not have any necessary knowledge or training but with some reasonable commitment and computer savvy, you can still come up with an award-winning iPhone app by making the following considerations.
Tools and Skills
Looking at iPhone app development from a technical perspective, particularly if you want to develop the application on your own, is to go visit the developer pages at the Apple website, signup with the apple developer program, and download the SDK or Software Development Kit. These tools that Apple made openly available for everyone is packed with useful information, documentations, codes and every technical thing you need to know and have to develop your apps.
Aside from what Apple can provide, you can also look at various books on this matter; get yourself a copy of a good app tutorial that tells you how to start, what to do next, and give examples along the way. You may encounter some bugs along the way, but checking out these references and participating in developer forums can help you get rid of these bugs.
Obviously, you need to have the proper gear to do all this such as getting yourself a Mac. A Mac mini or the most basic of Macbooks would do just fine as long as you have enough on board RAM memory (at least 2 GB). These apps run on iOS so this requirement is practically straightforward. Other technical stuff that you need to have or know would be programming language in Objective-C, Cocoa or XCode. And of course – you need to have your own iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
There are some programs that help you build apps without the need for any intensive programming knowledge such as the Corona SDK. These programs or app builders are similar to the WYSIWYG web builders that allow you to build your app without having to go down to the more technical and more complicated code levels. Although there are some limitations to what these app builders can do in terms of customization, these programs are fast and easy ways to create your app.
Outsourcing a Developer
If all these technical stuff sounds Greek to you or makes your head spin just by hearing some of the technical jargon, the best way for you to create your apps is to hire a developer. There are also several companies now that offer their app development services for a certain fee or a certain cut of the profits. You can check them out, look at the apps they’ve already done and how these apps performed in the App Store.
You can also hire a freelancer or an independent developer from places like Elance or oDesk to do the job for you. The freelance developer can work for you for a certain fixed fee, share royalties with you, or have a combination of both.
Alternatively, one can also ask people and friends for recommendations and conduct some interviews of these candidates to find out their knowledge and skills, experience, completed projects and how they work. Developer fees can vary depending on the complexity of programming required.
The Business Of App Development
The first thing you need to understand when putting a price tag on your app is to know that Apple charges 30% from your royalties. Considering your initial costs into making the program such as equipment or developer fees, you need to calculate how long it would take or how many paid downloads would be needed for you to break even if you set a certain price.
Marketing and Creating Awareness For Your iPhone App
No matter how great or funny or useful your iPhone apps are, if you don’t market or promote it well, then no one would ever know and your app would simply vanish into oblivion. Apple will not promote your app for you, unless it’s a bestseller already, so you are on your own in marketing and promoting your iPhone app – but there are ways on how you can do this successfully.
The best way to market your app is to put up a website solely dedicated for it. Put some screenshots, detailed descriptions of what it can do, and some witty copywriting on why iPhone users should have a copy of your apps. Then, promote this webpage on various online channels as possible: email, forums, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Multiply just to name a few. Create videos of your app in action and upload copies to YouTube and other video sharing websites.
Another way to make people get attracted to your app is to make a free version first then have it distributed to people for trail. A free trial version of your app would definitely entice more people to download and try out the app before deciding if they would upgrade and pay for the full version.
Lastly, you should make you iTunes and App Store descriptions for your apps as compelling as possible. If you don’t know how to write good copy material then hire a freelancer or a professional copywriter to do it for you.
The process of creating your own app can be rewarding and fulfilling in its own way. The fun and excitement sizzles on as you see your stats grow, people start downloading your apps from the store, and reviews churning in more 5 stars that you can handle. So learn everything there is to know about how to make an iPhone app – and start building one!