It’s been an ambition of mine to create an iOS application. I’ve watched other iOS developers create really awesome apps and wanted to get a piece of the action. Mainly from a learning standpoint. The goal of the first app being, creating an application that’s well designed and simplistic. I’ve never developed an iOS app before, everything was new to me. Where to start?
I did some research and got XCode installed. I read through some great documentation thats in abundance on utilizing the building blocks that are the iOS SDK. Apple also provide an excellent amount of docs and guidelines to read through. I could test with the iPhone Simulator that comes pre-bundled with the iOS SDK. It requires no Apple Developer license. This is great as it allows you to get stuck into iPhone development without financially committing.
I started building some simple test apps, creating standard UIViews that ran within an UITabBarController etc. The more I played, the more I fell in love with iPhone development. The next step? To plan out my first application.
I had quit smoking before and remembered there being nothing really of note in the AppStore that was beautifully designed, simplistic and would incentivize me to stick to my goals. I decided the incentive would be financial in the App. You could input, “I want a new iPhone” and the app would tell you how long it would take for your recently saved cash to pay for it. Simple.
Wire-framing it out
I took the same approach as I do with developing any application. Write out exactly what it is you want it to do. Review it and ensure it adheres to your goals. Simplicity and great design were mine. I then started sketching out how the interface would look:
A simple layout consisting of 3 UIViews that would sit within the main UITabBarController. I wanted the incentives to be “prioritize-able”. What’s at the top of the list would be where your savings would be utilized first. It would then move through your other incentives.
At the point of the creation, I had to much on my todo list to really get stuck into learning the iOS development. I decided I’d inlist the support of a great iOS developer in Dublin, Keith Redmond. This served two purposes:
1. It would free up my time to work on what I needed to.
2. I always learn better from example. Show me a book on iOS development, great. Show me the code of an App, I’ll learn 10x as fast.
Keith quickly got to work and starting coding out the main structure. It consisted of a SQLite database that would store all of the information. The configuration details of when the user quit, how much they smoked etc. All the information needed for the calculations. After some testing and some tweaks, the code was solid and the app was ready for design.
Here’s how it looked pre-design:
Design and inspiration
iPhone’s are beautiful. Apple create beautiful products. They have anal design guidelines because they want to keep the iPhone beautiful. My app was going to be beautiful.
I wanted a minimal amount of design to ensure it’s simplicity. I needed some icons that were user intuative. I decided on Glyphish’s icon set. For $25 you’re really getting your moneys worth. They’re excellent designs and include everything you need for both the iPhone 3GS/pre displays and the new iPhone 4 retina display.
Choosing a font was quiet easy. Helvetica Neue Bold Condensed was perfect. It allowed for an extremely large font for the user information your trying to convey as most important, in a very small width.
After playing around with many iterations, here’s what I came up with:
The AppStore Fun
By this stage I had bought my company Apple Developer account. Grabbing an iPhone developer account as an individual, Apple will approve the account straight away. However with a company account, they require documentation for your company and to authenticate your phone number. This took about a week. The account is only $99 per year, totally worth it for the documentation alone.
Placing your app into the AppStore was something I really wanted to get my teeth into. Firstly when you want to upload your binary, an automated service checks for any errors. It goes into great detail including your icons resolution, size and any possible code errors that might arise. It took about 30 minutes to get the binary to upload correctly but you feel happier knowing the bugs have been caught.
I learned a trick with the screenshots. Take them on your iPhone, not on the iOS Simulator. It’ll create the correct dimensions for Apple’s strict upload guidelines.
All that was left was to sign a few contracts, hook iTunes Connect up to my bank account and wait for the App to be approved.
I created a small website to showcase the App. Once the App was “Ready for Sale”, the App Store link was updated and every mass social media outlet I knew was informed. It was so awesome to see everyone commenting and to see the App climbing up the Paid Apps charts. I owe a massive thank you to everyone that helped out.
Overall the experience was amazing. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into my next one.