Interactive Media: iPhone App Development, Step 1

So you want to build an iPhone app…

Do you have an idea? Something people can’t possibly live without?
Well, this is a good place to start.
In this series of posts (iPhone App Development), I’ll go through all the major steps of how to develop your iPhone application. All this information also applies to iPad and iPod Touch app development as well, but I will confine my discussion to the iPhone specifically as a result of the fact that it’s much more widespread.
You’ll learn what software you need to get started, how to design and code your app and how to get it ready for distribution. But first let’s look at some of the basics.
Unlike other types of software development (such as the Flash platform), development for any iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad) is closely tied to Apple; you cannot develop for the iOS without working closely with Apple’s tools and services. This might at first seem like a hindrance, but Apple is not stupid nor are they simply overbearing. They have made zillions on iPhone apps (and so have developers) and as a result they do everything they can to encourage creativity, streamline the development process and provide all the necessary tools and resources for developers. So what does all this mean?
The downside:
It means that you MUST develop on a Mac. iOS development CANNOT be done on a PC. It also means that you must use their SDK (software development kit) and you must submit your app to Apple for approval before it can be sold in the app store. While this last may seem totalitarian, allow me to point out that one of the most popular apps of 2009 was the Fart Button (and yes, it does exactly what you think it does).
The upside:
You become a partner, in a way, with Apple. When you develop and sell apps Apple will pay you a portion of the sales. And folks have made literally millions in this way. If you app is popular, they will promote it to help it become more popular. As a registered developer, you will have access to a massive repository of resources ranging from coding how-tos to marketing tips.
Anyhow, here’s a basic overview of the steps required to begin iPhone development:
1. You need to register as an Apple Developer. To do this, go to the Apple Developer site and click the “Register” link on the top right of the page. Fill in the form and agree to all the stuff. This is a free process.
2. Once you’re a registered developer, you need to download the latest version of the iOS SDK (software development kit). It contains XCode, the program where you will create your app, as well as a number of other tools you will need to finalize your app once it’s done.
3. Install the iOS SDK on your Mac.
4. Read the next iPhone App Development blog post for a myriad of resources to help you get developing.
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