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Getting Started with Apps

Coding a fully-fledged app is a major undertaking. Implementing a simple function, however, might be easier than you think. A few weekends of tinkering and tutorials can get you started with basic functionality, which may be all you need. At the least, you’ll get an idea of what is and isn’t possible, as well as a vocabulary that will be useful when you hire a developer.

Choose a Platform

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide whether to build your app for Android or iOS. These two platforms account for 99% of the mobile market. Android powers a far greater number of devices at around three quarters of the market, with iOS accounting for the rest. Research has shown, however, that iOS users are far more likely to spend money in the app store. Further, it’s easier for Android users to pirate software, although there’s debate about how that actually impacts app revenue. You’ll have to decide for yourself which platform is best to start with based on your user target.

If you’re wondering why you can’t just pick both, the answer lies in the code. Android apps run on Java, while iOS apps run on Objective C. There’s no easy way to port apps built for Android over to iOS or viceversa; they essentially need to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Get the SDK and a Device

A software development kit (SDK) is a set of tools used to streamline app development. Nothing would ever get done if you had to write all of your app’s code from scratch. The Android SDK is free, while the fully featured iOS kit will cost you $99.

You probably don’t want to risk something going wrong on the phone you use every day, so you’ll also want to pick up a fairly recent model Android or iPhone to test your ideas with. Both SDKs have an emulator or simulator that you can use to test apps without a device, but you’ll need a very powerful computer to use them properly. Unless you already have one, you’ll be better off with an actual phone.

Check Out Tutorials and Get Started

There are free, official guides to getting started on both platforms. On top of that, there’s an overwhelming number of beginner tutorials on just about any topic. However, you probably won’t need all the features available to you, so it would be time-consuming to read through all the documentation. Instead, dive right into your project and start looking for instructions and examples that seem relevant to what you’d like to accomplish.

In addition to app-design tutorials, it will be very helpful to go over some basics of the underlying language (Java or Objective C). Otherwise, some of the errors you encounter will be completely bewildering. You won’t become a master programmer overnight. However, you will be able to put together a “duct-tape job” that will either serve your personal needs or prove your concept.

Launch and Monetize

If you end up spending some time on your app and it turns into a polished product, there’s no reason not to launch it and make some money. Both the Google Play store and Apple App store make it extremely easy to distribute your work to millions of people. Who knows¾maybe your app will be in the top 10 someday.

You don’t need a big team or venture capital funding to get your feet wet with app design. If you don’t give it a shot, you’ll never know if it would have worked. Why wait? This weekend, download the SDK of your choice and start exploring your ideas!

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