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custom web developmentStatistics show that people prefer tablets and smartphones when browsing the Internet. What was once a luxury is now a basic part of home office electronics. Tablets and smartphones run apps that are different than a typical desktop application. If you want to enter the programming industry or just hire a developer to create an app for your business, you’ll need to know where to get started. App development has some similarities to desktop programming with some differences that depend on your goals.

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What Do You Need to Get Started?

Every developer needs his own environment. The environment is dependent on what you want to write. There are two main environments: Android and iOS. There is also Blackberry and Windows programming, but these two setups are not as popular as iOS and Android. If you’re intent is to get your app used by as many people as possible, you probably want to start the learning process with either Android or iOS.

You also need a development machine. A development machine has plenty of hard drive space, CPU power and memory to work with the emulators included with iOS and Android. To work with iOS, you need a Mac computer, so you probably have enough resources to develop on whatever Apple computer you own. With Android, you can develop on either Linux or Windows operating systems. The Android emulator takes up much of the computer’s memory power. You’ll need several gigabytes of memory to work well with the Android emulator.

If you plan to write any web services, it’s probably better to get a test server. To write certain apps, you need web services to communicate between your user’s phone or tablet and another phone or tablet or a server. You can code and run web services on your local computer, but you’ll still need to ensure that the app can speak to the production server. You do this by testing a web service installed on the Internet.

Although it’s hard to believe someone doesn’t have Internet access, it should be noted that you need Internet access to test web services and any app that needs to communication an Internet API. For instance, when you work with a Google API, you need to have Internet access to properly test your software.

Both iOS and Android have software development kits (SDKs). You need to install these to work with the app code. These SDKs install on your computer but you still need the software to code the app. For instance, with Android, most developers use Eclipse to create the Android code. The SDK adds the emulator and the Java libraries to work with the Android platform.

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Understanding the Code

Unless you want to hire a developer, you need to understand the code to create an app. The Android development platform uses the Java language. If you have developed in C# or other Java applications, you’ll figure out how to work with the Android SDK development libraries quickly. Java is a C-based language, so any languages you know related to C will help you understand Java.

The iOS coding environment is written in Objective C. It’s a bit different than other development languages you’re probably used to. It’s still a superset of the C language, so if you’ve developed in C, you’ll be able to pick up the Objective C language pretty quickly.

Don’t Forget Your Design and Images

You can be the best coder in the world, but you still need a good design. Good design is probably more appreciated than your awesome code, but it’s one part of an app that makes your code attractive to users. Sometimes, the worst code can still sell well if it has a great design.

You can use typical graphics used for desktop apps in mobile apps, but remember to use vector images. Vector images scale with the screen size, so you can use the same image for tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices.

Most coders hire a designer for their apps. The designer will cut up the app and give you the images to use where ever you need in your software. Make sure you remember the logo. Whether it’s your company logo or an app logo, you always want to brand your app so users recognize your name in future apps.

Don’t Forget to Test the App

After you finish the app, you’ll probably be excited to release it. But don’t release a buggy app. One of the worst things to do when you first release an app is to release a buggy app. It not only ruins your app’s reputation, but bad reviews and first impressions for your development will follow you around when you release future apps.

There are two ways to test the app: unit testing and hiring people to test the app. The first tests are unit tests. These are tests you create on your development machine. As the developer, you should perform the first steps to test your code, so you don’t release some obvious bugs. However, as the developer, you also can’t test as thoroughly as a new user you hire who hasn’t seen the app yet. What does this mean? You want to hire testers. These testers can give you feedback from a new user’s perspective. For instance, if the tester can’t find an option or has a hard time navigating your app, you know you have a fundamental flaw in the user interface and you probably need to hold off from releasing it until you fix the issues.

How Much Will You Charge?

The price you charge will determine how well your app sells in the app stores. Most people charge $1.00, but there are other pricing structures. Game app developers usually release the app for free and then charge for in-game content. This type of pricing structure has been proven to bring in the most income for developers, but it’s not always the best option for all types of apps. Another price structure for apps such as productivity apps is a free and premium app. You give a basic app away for free and then charge to download the same app with additional functionality.

Apps with a high charge make it harder to sell the app, although it’s not completely out of the question. Apps that link to a brand can sometimes have a higher charge, although it is a deterrent. The better option is to give your app away for free so users can have a better incentive to buy product on their smartphone or tablet.

Building apps is fun and it’s a great way to make some money. If you’re lucky and make a great app, you can even make a decent living with your app business. You should always make sure you test the app completely, because bad reviews will ruin your reputation as a developer and a business trying to get an app off the ground.

It’s a big step as a developer to get started building apps. You can take online courses to figure out which platform you want target. Udemy has a number of courses to get you started with both Android and iOS app development. You can take a course to get you started with Android development or take a class for iOS and iPhone applications.

Page Last Updated: June 2014

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