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How [& Why] To: Start Developing in iOS

by on April 12th, 2011

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a bit about developing something for the iPad, and realized how little I knew about it – where to start, what I can or can’t do, what tools are out there to help. So I did a bit of digging, and here are a handful of thoughts about iOS development [from a purely amateur perspective].

Where Do I Even Start?

Unfortunately, according to Apple, iOS development can only take place on an Intel-based Mac. So if you’re stuck on a Windows or Linux device, you may be out of luck. But there may be a way out… ManiacDev has a quick guide for the non-Mac faithful.

When I discussed in my article last week regarding Apple providing support for developers, I meant it. iOS development all starts from the Apple Developers portal at developer.apple.com. Here, you’ll find the latest information about not simply iOS development, but also Mac and Safari development too. Not only does the Developer Portal discuss the basics, they also update the site with video walkthroughs covering advanced topics, as well as sessions from the WWDC.

Access to the Developer Portal is free, but you’ll need to invest a bit more in order to become a full-fledged developer.

Ok…So What Else Do I Need?

Access to the portal is a good first step to get a sense of what can and can’t be done. But to actually start development, you’ll need XCode [XCode 4] to be precise. XCode is the primary tool that Apple provides for iOS development, and you can grab it from the Mac App Store. You’ll be able to code, design and test your apps on the simulator provided.

Ready for the big show though? You’ll need an Apple Developer Account. For $99 a year, you’ll get access to all iOS betas and a free copy of XCode too. You’ll be able to register your devices for development and upload your apps for testing on the device itself.

Ok…So What’s Next?

While the Developer Portal provides a lot of good information, the problem is that oftentimes, there’s too much information. Sorting through it all is a major task, and there’s plenty of help online to start. Still, Apple’s provided a number of iBooks that may help. Load it up on your iPad and search for iOS and Cocoa development on the store, and look for the free books.

So Why Should I Care?

At the end of the day, I’m not entirely sure I’ll develop anything substantial for the device. However, going through this exercise has really gotten me to appreciate the time and effort it takes to develop on iOS. Furthermore, it’s also gotten me to understand the constraints of the hardware and the OS, answering a lot of the ‘Why doesn’t this app exist?’ or ‘Why can’t my app do this?’ questions I often have. At the very least, it gets me back thinking about coding; something I haven’t been involved with in a few years.

Are you a professional iOS developer? What other resources would you want to share to other amateur developers out there who would like to get into the space? Any tips, tricks and hacks? As always, let us know in the comments below.

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  • SERG

    I did it in another way.
    I downloaded WMVare image with Lopard OS 10.6.6 and installed XCode.
    You can start develop in you windows OS..
    For IPAD you have to create a project based on “ViewBased application”
    and after starting developing.. :)

  • http://playmobeo.com John

    I suggest watching the Stanford lectures on iTunesU on iOS Development. They’re a really good starting point. That’s where we started.