How to Get Started as an App Developer

iPad miniApple’s highly anticipated iPad Mini with its  7.9-inch screen is going head to head with Google’s Nexus 7. Apple also says that it has sold 100 million iPads and that customers have downloaded 35 billion apps. These amazing numbers are the new normal for mobile. So, if you haven’t figured it out already, this is a great market for developers to get into.

Both Android and iOS are fantastic development environments. Colleges are now offering very popular mobile development courses, and for good reason. Almost every week I’m offered referral fees to recommend mobile developers for either iOS or Android. The demand is high and the pay is good for those that have published apps on Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

How do you get started? Simple: Start learning and coding. Since no one is born with the knowledge of how to code powerful mobile applications, you have to build your knowledge base by actually creating software and developing a deep understanding of your environment.  Mobile is very different from server-side development. Your code is sandboxed in so that you can’t access everything on the device, and your memory footprint is very small. The list of differences goes on.

Continued Momentum

The markets for both Android and iOS are very strong right now, and I don’t see a slowdown anytime soon. Pick the platform that you want to work on. If you own a Mac (native iOS requires a Mac for development) and use an iPhone, then iOS will most likely be your target. If you own a PC or a Mac and use an Android-based phone, then Android may be your platform. In addition, if you already have a good understanding of Java, then Android may be a natural fit.

After you’ve decided on your mobile platform, start thinking about what sort of application you would like to create. This is an important step. Don’t try to create a new “Instagram” app out of the gate. Pick something simple that may or may not already exist. The point here is to create a free application and get it published on one of the app stores, even if the app is a simple utility. Again, it’s about learning the process, being able to discuss it during interviews, and being able to refer interviewers to an actual app on an app store.

Step by Step

Once your first application is complete, go through the submission process for the given platform. Make sure you create simple graphics that conform to the store’s guidelines, and prepare some simple marketing materials, like text that explains your application to the people reviewing it (if iOS) and to the people who may use it.

After you have your first app published, you’ll be surprised how your confidence increases and how your ideas grow. The sky is the limit, but it’s up to you to get started.

Comments

  1. BY RobS says:

    “The demand is high and the pay is good”
    Can you tell us demand relative to other things like C#.NET?
    And exactly what is your definition of “good pay”? and in what region–anywhere or only Silicon valley?

  2. BY RobS says:

    Certainly, app dev is the way to go, but you really don’t explain how to get started except to “get started”

    “Once your first application is complete, go through the submission process for the given platform.”

    this is like saying that to become a pilot, you should figure out how to fly and fill out an application. It would be nice to get a link to some of the places where you can find these so we don’t end up on a false training website.

  3. BY Anthony Tobin says:

    This is great get pumped and get going article. I sympathize with the requests for more information in the two earlier comments, but then the article would bog down and loose focus. I like what was written and how it was written, taking that it is a go go get going piece. Nicely done Mr. Jones!

  4. BY Michelle says:

    I don’t speak for iOS developers but I do have a few links for Android, if you’re interested.

    Some of this is now dated but it will be a good start for Android http://news.dice.com/android-talent-community/fundamentals-2/

    If you already write Java you’re well on your way to programming for Android. There’s a new bundled tool set that makes set up of the development environment nearly painless except for the giant download. http://news.dice.com/2012/11/28/android-developer-tool-setup/ (complete with Eclipse).

    I have a list of resources and online classes for new developers at http://news.dice.com/android-talent-community/.

    Google I/O Android sessions covered a lot. Design and marketing were among the topics. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4C6BCDE45E05F49E

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