Table of Contents
iOS development basics (key takeaways)
Starting a career as an app developer is a great choice if you want to put your IT knowledge to work, but when searching the web, it is sometimes pretty difficult to get the necessary information. Here are the main points that a beginner app developer should keep in mind:
- Basic technical requirements
- Languages used in iOS development
- Types of architecture patterns
- How to get started in iOS development
What is iOS development?
iOS development refers to the creation of new apps for Apple products, such as iPhone, iPad, iWatch or Mac computers. This process is usually one using the XCode IDE with the Swift or Objective-C languages, which are Apple’s original languages. iOS app development is one of the many pathways a software developer can choose, and it’s become quite popular, as it is believed to be easier than other forms of development.
iOS app development requirements
The first thing a developer needs to keep in mind when approaching iOS development is the prerequisites it represents. Here are the basic requirements for developing apps for Mac devices, although you can always find other variations.
Regarding hardware, it is necessary to own a Mac computer in which you can install the software needed for iOS development. This computer needs to have an computer with a minimum of 16GB RAM and run the Mac OS X version 10.8 or newer that can run the latest version of XCode available.
Apple developer account
The next requirement is registering as an Apple Developer on their website. This registration will grant you access to the XCode app, used for creating iOS apps, together with documentation about the topic, first access to betas, and discussion forums. This account is also essential if you are looking to publish your app on App Store.
Once you have registered as an Apple Developer, download the XCode app. With it, you will be able to create your own apps for all types of Apple devices, either running Mac OS X or iOS. Besides, it provides simulators of all of these devices, allowing you to debug and optimise them cross-device.
If you are willing to create a particular type of app, you may want to acquire SDKs with initial coding for developing apps without the need to create all the code from scratch. If you want to develop a custom keyboard in iOS, get our Fleksy SDK, using SPM ( Swift Package Manager), which is the standard between all different SDK’s.
iOS programming languages
Once you have fulfilled all the requirements, you can start developing your new apps. Let’s dive into the technical specifications of iOS app development, and let’s start with which languages can be used for programming this type of software.
Swift is Apple’s own open-source, multipurpose programming language. Although it is mostly used for Apple products, it can also be run in other operative systems. It is considered one of the best languages for beginners, as it is easy and intuitive to learn. It ensures your apps are responsive and run smoothly, as it is specially made for this purpose.
Objective-C is another language originally created by Apple, prior to Swift. Although most developers choose to use Swift for newer applications, those whose apps depend on C++ libraries might decide to continue using Objective-C as their main language. The good news is that Objective-C and Swift are interoperable, which means they can be combined to create a single app, leveraging the functionalities both languages can offer. However, it is not recommended to use Objective-C as the main language in an app as it is becoming outdated, with its last update done in 2016.
If you want to make an app that is not iOS-exclusive, you can try using C# code. For this, we recommend trying Visual Studio for Mac or Xamarin, two Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) that belong to Microsoft and allow you to create multiplatform apps to expand your horizons. Although C# is very popular among developers thanks to its functionalities and huge libraries, it can be hard to learn as a beginner.
Dart (Flutter framework)
Developers can also create iOS apps that also work on Android devices using Google’s language, Dart. This language is a smooth, optimized option for creating apps easily. Besides, Dart is used in the Flutter framework, which adds to the ease of use, as it is practical and intuitive, either for creating new apps from scratch or adding new functionalities to existing apps.
Fundamentals of iOS
Whether you choose one language or another, depends on the type of app you wish to make and how each language suits your objectives best. However, that is not the only decision to make or the only thing you need to learn.
iOS architecture patterns
When creating new apps, it is important to keep in mind the architecture to use. The architecture refers to the classification of objects within the app that have different functions and create different layers.
Each of these layers is separate from the other, but they interact when the app is in use. The most typical architectures in iOS development are MVC, MVP, MVVM, and VIPER. The original Model-View-Controller structure was modified and adapted to fit varied types of apps, and this gave place to the rest of the architectures mentioned.
iOS app lifecycle methods
A very important point to keep in mind in app development is the lifecycle. Understanding how the app comes into the foreground, returns to the background and what actions it runs in each stage is essential to understand which pieces of coding are necessary. Have a look at the different stages in the iOS app lifecycle in the custom keyboard in iOS guide.
Accessing device features and APIs
Depending on the app you are creating, you may want to include particular functionalities that require interaction with the device as a whole or with other providers, such as Google, Spotify, Facebook, or many others. These providers offer access to public APIs that any developer can use. In some cases, you might need to register on their websites to be granted authorization of use.
Working with iOS frameworks
One of the recommended ways to develop apps is using the XCode IDE, where you can access the iOS frameworks, ideal for creating apps on different devices (iPhone, iWatch, Mac) implementing specific characteristics. One of the best options is using the Cocoa platform, through which you can access multiple libraries and a bank of functionalities ideal for each of these devices.
Integrating third-party libraries and SDKs
Besides iOS SDKs you can also use third parties’ to create specific types of apps. For instance, our Fleksy SDK is used for developing new custom keyboards that can be adapted to your specific needs, saving the time and effort of developing text prediction and autocorrection engines, together with other innovative functionalities. You can easily integrate the Fleksy SDK by using the Flutter IDE, Google’s development tool. This will allow you to create a new in-app keyboard that works with both iOS and Android seamlessly.
Getting started with ios app development
How to become an iOS developer
Since many people learn programming on their own, you can choose to take institutional courses in the matter, or you can use other developers’ experience to collect information and find your way in iOS development. It is important to keep in mind that all the information stated above represents the basics that any iOS developer should know to thrive in this profession. Be aware that there are tons of developers entering the market, so following best practices and guidelines is essential to stand out from the competition. Access GitHub and other developer forums to look for shared experiences and start to make your own.
Here are some of the indications they mention in this forum, for example:
How to learn iOS development in 2023 (+roadmap & tutorials)
As mentioned before, operative systems allow different programming languages, and if you are looking to become an iOS developer, the best choice is to learn to use Swift or Objective-C, Apple’s original programming languages.
Experts recommend taking Udemy courses to grasp the basics and understand the main concepts. Besides, you can watch YouTube tutorials, which contain step-by-step indications and even troubleshooting solutions.
After that, what comes is getting your hands on the matter. “Practice makes perfect” couldn’t be any more true in programming! Think about an app project, look for inspiration from similar existing apps and develop your own.
Most users mention that learning Swift from zero to publishing your own app usually takes between six months and one year, so it’s quite fast! Don’t forget to have a look at Apple’s official documentation where you can find straightforward and detailed information right from the source.
iOS development quiz
Once you have started your programming journey, you may want to test your knowledge. For sure, the best way may be to create your own app and run it to see how well it is performing in order to find bugs and errors. However, you can also access quizzes to test your knowledge easily. Check out this iOS quiz to evaluate your use of Objective-C.
Many people are entering the development industry, so it might seem like something fast and easy to do. However, there are many elements to keep in mind in order to stand out among the emerging crowd of programmers. Choose the most suitable programming language for the app you want to make, together with the right architecture patterns, and make an effort to understand the particularities of iOS development specifically.
What programming language is used in iOS?
iOS can be used with several programming languages, but the most popular are Objective-C and Swift, Apple’s original languages. These can be used within the Xcode IDE and can even be merged into a single project.
How hard is it to learn Swift?
Swift is easy and fast to learn, as its syntax is simpler than other languages. Most iOS developers say you can learn to program using Swift in a short span of 6 months to 1 year.
Which framework is used for iOS app development?
The most popular frameworks used in iOS app development are those found within the Cocoa platform, as they include libraries of elements ideal for creating iOS apps, as well as tvOS, macOS and Apple Watch widgets.
Which architecture is best for iOS app development?
The most popular architecture for apps is MVC, but you can also use MVP, MVVM or VIPER. The choice you make depends on the type of app you want to develop, but it is important to hold a consistent workflow to allow an easy testing and debugging process.
What is an example of an iOS framework?
An iOS framework is a library contained within the Cocoa platform where developers can find code lines to include features in apps. One of the most used is the Foundation framework, which contains core functionalities for both iOS and OS X.
Is iOS development easier than Android?
App development is not an easy task in general, as it requires deep knowledge of programming languages, user experience and a good base idea to create a successful app. However, developers agree that iOS development is easier than Android, even when using the Android SDK.