What Do You Need? - Apps: Beginner's Guide For App Programming, App Development, App Design (2015)

Apps: Beginner's Guide For App Programming, App Development, App Design (2015)

Chapter 2. What Do You Need?

Now it’s time to start thinking about getting that app out of your head and onto your computer. In order to be successful at creating an app, there are certain things you are going to need.

A Good Powerful Computer

You are going to need a high-end computer. Yes, you can use a mediocre one and there are development kits that you can use with a computer that isn’t quite so powerful. But, having a high-end computer means that you will be able to test out your app far more efficiently. That way, you don’t get disappointed users by giving them an app that is full of problems and bugs.

Having a good computer is highly recommended if you are intending to develop your app for the Android platform. Android emulators need heavy resources, including a very fast processed and a lot of spare RAM to run the Android emulators. If you use a computer that isn’t quite up to spec, the Android emulators will run very slowly, if at all and you will spend your time fighting crashes and slow-downs.

A normal desktop PC is enough to build apps for both Windows and Android. If you are planning to develop a Windows app, you will need to make sure you are running the Windows 8 operating system. If, on the other hand, you are intending to build an app for the iOS platform, you will need a Mac as the development tools can only be found on the OS X operating system. As an absolute minimum, your Mac should be running on Snow Leopard but if you can get Mavericks or Yosemite, that’s even better. A Mac Mini is sufficient although, if you want to beef things up, go for an iMac of the desktop. If you want one that is portable, look at the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

You don’t specifically need to have a large display to create a good app. However, they do give you a distinct advantage in that a lot of the development tools are faster and are more convenient on a larger screen. If you can afford it and are serious about becoming a developer, you could also go for a multi-screen setup but that is maybe something to think about later on down the line – let’s see how your first app goes.

A Mobile Device

When you are developing a mobile app, you need to have a compatible mobile device to hand. There’s a good chance you already have a tablet or a smartphone anyway so this is the easy bit. However, it is highly recommended that you use a separate device for development purposes, rather than using your everyday device. This can work out expensive, especially if you are preparing to develop and iOS app but it is a worthwhile investment. As you are just beginning though, and you may be on a tight budget, it’s OK not to have the separate device. You must keep in mind though, that your device must match that of the market you are targeting – simply, if your app is for smartphones, you need to have one and if it is for tablets, well, you need to have one of those.

Choosing the device is the first part; there is still plenty more that you must take into consideration. First, your device must be of a good spec, i.e. good processor, RAM, reasonable battery life and a good screen size. Second, your device must be updated to the latest possible operating system for the platform you are on. It might seem like a god idea to develop an app that is compatible with earlier versions, so that you are targeting those that don’t update their systems but you are also setting yourself some limitations that are not necessary.

Your mobile device is going to be a beta tester. You might wonder why you need this is the development tools already have emulators in them but the answer is simple. The emulator works on your computer and, to date, nobody has come up with a computer-based emulator that matches the way the mobile devices run. The emulators are useful for testing to see if there are any bugs in the app but the user-experience can only be tested on the device itself. You will be able to see how the app works with the touch screen and there are other things that you will only spot if you test on a mobile device.

The Right Software

Each separate platform has their own development tool kits. To create an app, you need to have the correct SDK – Software Developers Kit – for the platform you are working on. For iOS, you need the iOS SDK for the relevant iOS version that you are developing for. You would also need something called Xcode, which you can get from the Apple Developers website.

For Android, you will need the correct SDK and a program called Eclipse. The recommended SDK is 3.0 as it is compatible with the highest number of devices but, if you want to take advantage of the advanced features in the API, you should download the most up to date version.

For Windows apps, you will need to download Microsoft Visual Studio, which contains an integrated SDK; you can get this from the Windows Phone site.

Register as a Developer with Your Chosen Platform

To be able to download all these tools you first have to register. If you choose iOS, you will need to register with the official Apple Developers program. This will cost you $99 a year ONLY if you want your app in the app store. Otherwise, registration is free.

Google is the same system except its only $25 per year and, for Windows, you need to go to the official Windows Phone site. Again, it is free to register but, when you are ready to publish, it will cost you $49 per year.

As soon as you have registered, all the development tools become open to you.

A Little Knowledge of Programming

You don’t need to have degree in programming to become a developer. There are loads of web-based interfaces that can help you to create an app without having any knowledge of programming or coding; all you need to be able to do is click and drag.

However, I would recommend that you get some understanding of how to code and program as it opens up the way for more options. You don’t need to go to college to do this; you can learn it all on the internet. Pick your language and find out as much as you can about the principles of it before you begin creating your app:


· Objective C

· Objective C+



· CSS3

· HTML 5


Once you are prepared, we can move on to looking at the 12 steps you need to go through in order to create, develop and design your mobile app.