Building Your First App | iOS Development for Beginners

So you’ve finished all the beginner iOS development courses and tutorials out there and you got stuck at the most important step – building your first app. Don’t worry about that, many of the young developers don’t know where to start when faced with a blank project. Fortunately, we have a few suggestions that might help you out.

How To Pick Your First App

Surely you have a few app ideas but when choosing what idea to pursue you must remember that they mustn’t be very complex or you would struggle to implement them. I would suggest starting slowly with a simple app and working your way upwards. This way you’ll cover all the basic stuff, learn new skills in the process and use that skills on other projects in a different way. The bonus part is that along with the knowledge you will also build a nice beginner portfolio for yourself. This is important when looking for a junior development job, as most of the employers out there are looking for at least a couple of apps in your CV.

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Repetitio mater studiorum est

My favorite, very old and very true Latin phrase: Repetition is the mother of all learning.
Based on my experience its the most effective way to learn – take what you’ve learned and respin it somehow else. Of course, the key to making this work is to ensure you’re only ever using skills you already learned, otherwise you’re back to learning even more!

So, my suggestions:

  1. Think up three apps you can definitely build. It doesn’t matter how trivial they are – you’re looking for quick wins, not testing tasks.
  2. Make all three, committing them to public GitHub repositories as you go. This is your chance to start building up a small portfolio of work and shows potential employers you practice good software development even on trivial projects.
  3. Take any one of the trivial apps and try adding something that requires you to learn a new skill.
  4. Now repeat that new skill on one of the other trivial apps. Repetition can really help new knowledge sink in.

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App Ideas

If you’re struggling for app ideas here are some suggestions that might make things a little easier:

  • Make an app that lets parents write a journal to give to their kids when they are grown up, attaching pictures, videos, and text along with some attractive wrapping.
  • Make a game of Boggle with two players facing each other on the same iPad, each with their own board. Whichever player finds a word first gets 10 points; if the second player finds it they get 5 points.
  • Make a power nap app that sets three local notifications with sounds. The first one says “wake up” with a quiet sound, the second one uses a slightly louder sound, and the third one makes a really loud sound – all trying to wake your user up slowly.
  • Make a phonics memory pairs game for small children. On one card is the sound “eh” and on another is the letter E. Can the child find the matching sound and pictures across 16 cards?
  • Make a touring app using CloudKit. A user taps to create a tour, then drops pins where they want it, and attaches text, e.g. guiding someone around New York. If they pay an in-app purchase fee of your choosing they get to attach audio as well. Your app lists all available tours.
  • Make a game of Missile Command where the player only gets missiles to fire if they can answer mathematics questions. Suddenly kids have an incentive to practice their arithmetic.
  • Make a quiz builder app. A teacher can add a question by selecting what type of question it is (free text entry, yes/no, slider or segmented control). They repeat this as many times as they want, then upload it to iCloud so their students (and others) can take the quiz.
  • Make a Flappy Bird clone that lets a user place a friend’s face on the bird from their photo library. Add ReplayKit for extra laughs.

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