Basic things you need to know before starting your iPhone app development project

You need to sign up for your Apple developer account

Despite what the name may suggest, you do not have to be a developer to sign up for the iOS developer program, any app publisher goes through this. If you want to have your apps published under your own company name and receive royalties from the sales, this is something that you have to do yourself – even when you outsource the actual app development to a third party, they are not going to do this for you.

Do not worry though, the process is quite simple (submit personal information, fax the required documents) and varies a little depending on what kind of developer account you want to sign up for.

There is the individual developer account, recommended for people who are developing their own apps, and this usually takes the least amount of time and effort to get it approved – usually just a couple of days.

There is the company / organization account, which is recommended for people who use third party developers to do the actual development, as this type of account allows you to create team members within the account who are granted limited access by the account owner to work on specialized tasks. This type of account might take several weeks to get it approved, so make sure that you apply as early as possible.

Lastly, there is the enterprise account, which is usually used by internal IT departments for private use.

Regardless of the type of account you apply for, there is a fixed cost of $99 per year which allows you to publish unlimited apps and you can sign up for one here.

It takes time to develop an app

There will be significant period of time passed from the moment you first come up with an idea for an iPhone app and the moment you see it live in the App store.

Even the simplest app can take at least a couple of weeks to develop (although most of them take months) and when you add on top of that the time it takes to exhaustingly test the app and the time it takes for Apple to review the app (usually another couple of weeks), you start to understand the importance of getting started as early as possible if you want to have your app live before a certain date. Open your developer account, get in contact with your iPhone app development company , and make plans well in advance of the desired launch date.

Have a clear vision of what your app is supposed to do

With more than 700,000 apps live in the App store (as of September 2012) and the number going up daily, there is little room left for apps that do not address a specific need in the marketplace. Not only do you need to know precisely how your users will interact with your app, you also need to be able to clearly describe your idea to your iPhone app developer. This usually implies having ready at a minimum a list of desired app features and it’s highly recommended to have mockups prepared as well (wireframes that describe the workflow of the app, how screens will connect to each other, when you press a certain button what do you expect to happen, etc.)

By not starting your development project with precise requirements, you will run the risk of running into unexpected problems mid – development, as iOS is still a closed platform and many features that may look simple to you might prove to be impossible to integrate on iOS or restricted by Apple. Also, keep in mind that extra features added at the end of the project will be harder to integrate (compared to having been described in the initial phase) since they will most probably require a complete rework of the app logic and architecture, and in the end that is extra time and money coming from your pocket.

The iPad is much more than a big iPhone.

Developing an app for iPhone and iPad usually means developing two different apps. While from a code perspective it is more or less true that an app developed for iPhone will run on iPad as well (not vice versa though), from a design and user interface point of view it is a mistake to use the same app. The iPad’s bigger screen requires a specifically designed interface with extra features and a lot more menu space to take advantage of all the options the iPad offers. When planning your app strategy you will have to decide if it makes sense to develop your app for iPhone users only, iPad users only, or for both platforms, as the costs involved in the projects differ significantly.

Apple takes a 30% cut from the app price, as well as from any IAP

After your app is developed and before you publish it live you will have to decide on your monetization strategy. Depending on your business model, you can go with a free app, a paid one, a free app with in app purchases, or two versions of the app, a free one and a premium one. Regardless of your pricing model, you have to take into account that Apple will take a cut of 30% from the price of the app, as well as from any in app purchases your users make for the privilege of letting you publish through their platform. This might seem high at first (and we had some client surprised by that), but there is no way to bypass it. On the upside, you have complete freedom regarding the sale price, and you can easily modify it and test various price points to see what makes most sense for your business.

If you wish to talk to one of our app strategists regarding your idea, get in touch with us!