I’m serious about becoming an iPhone developer, how do I get started?

With over 50 million iPhone and iPod Touch devices in circulation and over 1 billion Apps downloaded from the Apples’ App Store, there’s never been a better time to dive into iPhone development.

Mobile platforms and devices like the iPhone are radically changing the technology landscape and creating new opportunities for growth and success.

Here’s what you’ll need to start your journey to becoming in iPhone developer.

1. You’re going to need to buy a Mac.
No getting around this one. In order to publish iPhone and iPod Touch apps, you’ll need an Intel based Mac computer running Mac OS X Leopard or higher. No need for the top of the line model however, and through experience, I’d recommend you have a look at an entry level Mac Book or Mac Book pro laptop. If you are a student, you’ll even get discounts and may even qualify for a free iPod Touch if you buy before early September. If you’re a long standing PC user, it will only take a short while to get used to things. Welcome to the world of premium computing, just remember, you’re worth it!

2. Register a free account on the iPhone Dev Center and download the latest iPhone SDK.
Xcode is the powerful programming IDE you’ll be using to develop your iPhone apps. Install the SDK and make a shortcut to it to your doc for easy access. In addition to Xcode, the SDK will give you the iPhone Simulator for testing, performance analyzers, interface builders and the full documentation reference set.

3. Sign-up to become an official iPhone developer.
Having an account and downloading the SDK does not mean you’re an official iPhone developer yet. Unless you are an organization and plan on building apps for internal use, you’ll most likely want to opt for the $99 standard program and can sign up as an individual or a company. If you are a company sign up as a company and if you and individual sign up under your name. Once you’ve signed up, the approval process can take a few weeks, so be patient and Apple will contact you.

4. Learn Objective-c
Objective-c is the primary programming language for iPhone development. You can think of it as an extension of C with an addition of object-orientated principles. I’m not going to sugar coat this, picking up this language is a bit of work and having previous programming experience extremely helpful, this is not HTML. Exposure to a language like Java,C++,C or C# may prove useful but will not eliminate the learning curve. There are some great resources online and Apple does a really decent job with the documentation and examples. Check the Apple site for:”Introduction to The Objective-C 2.0 Programming Language” and “Learning Objective-C: A Primer”. There are some decent books on iPhone dev out there now too and you may also want to check your local college and see if they run a course on iPhone development(BCIT Comp 3906 – Introduction to iPhone Development for example).

5. Staring writing Apps.
Programming is something you get good at buy doing it, so start small and build up from there. Starting off with “Hello World” works just fine.

6. Provision your device(s).
Before you can publish an app to your iPhone or iPod Touch, you will need to enable this by way what is called provisioning. This can be a little tricky if it’s your first time as there are lots of little steps, so make sure your not in a rush and you’ve read through all the steps before you give it a shot. There are helpful videos you’ll have access to once you become a official developer.

7. Build and Test You App(s)
You’ll use Xcode to build your app(s) and will either build to the simulator for an actual device. Although the iPhone SDK comes with an iPhone simulator, if you ask anyone who does iPhone development for a living, they”ll be quick to tell you that there is just no substitute for building and testing your apps to a real device. Think of the simulator as a “rough estimate” of what your App may be like, but don’t count on it being accurate.

8. Submit your App(s)
Once you you crafted your app, tested it and are sure it’s ready for prime time, you’ll have to submit it to Apple for approval. Although there is now guarantee you app will be approved, if your app doesn’t have technical issues and it isn’t deemed offensive and doesn’t compete with Apple, you’ve got a pretty good shot.

BCIT will be offering a new course this fall called Comp 3906 – Iphone Application Development. If you’re serious about getting into iPhone development come check us out at:
http://www.bcit.ca/study/courses/comp3906. We running Comp 3906 in Vancouver and Burnaby this fall so get registered and come on out and join us.


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