If you’re reading this article, chances are good that you are thinking about writing your own iPhone app. You probably heard all the same things I did before I got started. Oh, it’s super easy. Anyone can do it. Just write one quick app and you’ll get rich. Well, let me give you a little different perspective.
Writing iPhone apps is easy IF you are a professional software developer who has been working with Apple’s development tools for years. If you aren’t a software developer, you are going to find it anything but easy. And if you are a developer, but you haven’t spent much time writing Apple software, you are going to run into a big learning curve.
First, you need to learn the language. iPhone apps are written in Objective C. If you’re a C programmer, great, it will look somewhat familiar to you, though there will still be a lot of learning to do. If you’re not a C programmer, I sure hope you’re ready to do some learning and spend lots of time on Google. I spent 90% of my “development” time for my first app surfing Google, searching desperately to figure out how to do something that seemed like it should be super simple.
Second, you need to learn the development environment. iPhone apps are developed using two main pieces of software. XCode is where you write your code, add your project files, and run and debug. Interface Builder is where you design your interface. One of the trickiest parts of writing an iPhone app is getting the interface from Interface Builder connected to the code in XCode. I strongly urge you to buy and read a good introductory iPhone app development book. You really need to have at least a vague understanding of how everything works together and the architecture of an iPhone app before you even start your first project. If you don’t follow this advice, you are likely to screw up your project beyond belief.
Aside from misconceptions about how “easy” it is to write iPhone apps, you are probably also thinking you are going to get rich. Who can blame you? You’ve probably read about cases where one person made hundreds of thousands of dollars off one little app. Well, think of it like the lottery. Sure, a few people get rich, but most people get little to nothing. I read somewhere that the majority of app developers have made less than $500. The get rich quick apps are the one’s that got in early and had the first app of their kind, or they are the very top of the rankings and have had a ton of publicity.
Now don’t think that I’m discouraging anyone from writing iPhone apps. I’m having fun with it and I’m learning a lot. But I’ve been a software developer for 8 years and it took me a month of working on my first app in my free time to get it done. And I’m certainly not making any money yet. So stop and think first and don’t believe everything you hear.