{Tech Thursday} Top 9 Things You Need to Start Learning iOS App Development

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Here is my list of the top 9 things you’ll need to get started developing iOS apps. I’ve included both practical items as well as things to help you stay inspired.

I wanted to share this list of things you’ll need (or strongly want) to learn how to make iOS apps. I hope it will make it easier for you to get started. If you are even casually interested in learning iOS app development, the things on this list will get you well on your way.

PS. It is assumed here that you already have a Mac computer (desktop or laptop). You can’t create Apple iOS apps without an Apple computer, that’s just the way it is.

Apple’s Xcode

First and foremost, you’ll need to download Apple’s IOS App Development environment, called “Xcode.” It’s free. Just go to the App Store on your Mac, search for “Xcode,” then download it (see Figure). It’s a pretty big program, so it could take a while to download.

Artemis & Leto, Artemis and Leto, learn iOS app development, learn iOS app dev, learn iOS

An Apple ID and iPhone/iPad (optional, but not really)

You’ll need an Apple ID to run any apps you create on an iPhone or iPad device. If you own an Apple computer and/or have an iTunes account, you probably have an Apple ID. This one will work perfectly fine.

Note that you do not necessarily have to have your own device to create apps. Xcode comes with a simulator on which you can run your app. It doesn’t, however, exactly mirror the conditions on a real device. Plus, you’ll eventually want to have your app(s) actually be on an iOS device. That’s the whole point.

How-to Books/Video Tutorials/Etc.

Find a cohesive set of “How To for Beginners” books, or video tutorials, or whatever works for you. Do some research and get to know the style of different resources before buying. You’ll have a better chance of learning in a way that works for you. This is important because learning iOS app development can be hard to grasp at first. You want something that you “get.”

Reference Books/Articles/Etc. on Computer Programming

Less important than your “How To” resources, having access to some very basic computer programming references is very helpful. You don’t have to buy these. They could be eBooks from your local library (or real books). Or they could be good, long-form tech articles/blogs.

For example, iOS apps are created using Apple’s Swift programming language. This is (generally) an Object-Oriented Programming language (Python is another one). You’ll therefore want to have a basic understanding of what Object-Oriented Programming languages are all about. A good general reference on this type of language will be very useful as you are learning.

Ability to Research Questions Online Effectively

Similarly, as you are learning, you’ll have lots and lots of questions. Some of which you will want to have answered before moving on. (Some might be too complex for a while, so “putting a pin” in a question or topic until you are ready is very common!) Being able to find a reliable and accurate source of info is important.

For instance, you may want to know what different movement actions are available in SpriteKit (don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense to you right now). How would you find out? Swift’s documentation (sort of like a users manual for the language) for SpriteKit would be a great place to go! It’s obviously reliable and accurate (straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were).

But, it can be a bit hard to understand at first. You could, alternatively, try the website of your “How To” books/tutorials. They often have forums where students, like you, ask questions and get answers from bona fide experts (the folks who most likely wrote your “How To” book).

An Idea (or Two, or More) for an App

Less practical, it is nonetheless good to have an idea for an app that you’d like to build someday. A relatively simple one (though no app is simple to build, even if it’s simple to use) works best. This is because you can gain the skills necessary to make a simple app faster. But, complex app ideas are fine, too. The point is that it motivates you to keep learning, especially during the challenging times.


Hand-drawing app design ideas (mock-ups, story boards) is a great way to start seeing your future apps come to life, long before y0u have the coding skills to build them. This can be very motivating. It’s also a great way to keep a record of your ideas for later.

Also, you might be someone who benefits from taking hand-written notes as they learn (like in high school). Having a dedicated notebook for learning iOS app development also serves as a reference for when you start building apps on your own from scratch.

Basic Typing Skills

Being able to type properly (not pecking like a couple of chickens with your two index fingers) can be very helpful. Take a typing tutorial online or something. Even if you’re slow at first, it’ll be worth it. Being able to type properly allows you to look at your screen (and not down at the keyboard). This helps lower typing errors. It also helps you hold good posture, which is a huge problem when you spend hours and hours at your computer (and you will!). Trust me, invest the time to learn proper typing!

A Desire to Learn

Finally, you’ll need a desire to learn. Without it, you won’t stick with it long enough to see your first game character walk around your screen, or save your first To Do item in your first To Do list app. It takes effort, time, and perseverance to create apps, even when just following a prescribed tutorial. (It takes way more effort, time, and perseverance to create your own from scratch!) If you don’t want to learn, you won’t. Simple.

     —You’re Never Too Anything to Learn Tech

Are you looking for some good reasons to learn iOS app development as an older person? Check out this {Tech Thursday} article!

If you have any questions about getting started learning to code, post them below in the Reply section!

Comments 3

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