5 Tips for Successful iOS App Development

Apple is one of the leading mobile platforms, so developing applications for Apple users—whether it’s for iOS, watchOS, or tvOS—can be a huge benefit for a business owner. Apple is known for its high-quality apps and its strict requirements for iOS app developers. Not only is it important to follow standard practices for acceptance into the App Store, but it’s also important for user friendliness and usability.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when developing for iOS.

1. Layout for Your Content

A good rule of thumb is that content should fit the screen so that users don’t need to scroll left or right. The three basic rules for Apple iOS design are clarity, deference and depth.

Clarity: always make your text large enough so that it’s easily read on a mobile device.

Deference: the layout should be fluid and intuitive. Avoid too much shadowing, bezels and gradients. Make the design clean without a design that competes for focus on important objects such as text and images.

Depth: as users navigate through each screen, there should be a sense that they drill into more detailed content.

Font size is also important. Your users should not need to zoom in or out to read your content. The font color is also a factor since it can be harder to see lighter font on a mobile screen especially if your user is outside in the sun.

There are several emulators on the market that you can use to review your layout before publishing it to the app store. Images and content should scale to the screen, but there are several screen sizes on the market. Even if you can’t test them all, ensure that you test the most common ones. Recently, the standard is to support iPhone 5 and newer and code should support at least iOS 9. Some developers support iOS 8. Generally, it is good to maintain a backwards compatability of “n-1” from the current released version, however it is also common to wait until your user base drops below a threshold before deprecating support for a version. It’s the developer’s responsibility to decide operating versions to support.

2. Design UI elements with 3D Touch in mind

For a developer new to mobile app development, it’s difficult to move from small buttons and links to larger objects that make it easy for users to select a drop-down item or tap an element. It’s better to have an iPhone to see the way intuitive design works.

For instance, when the user taps a drop-down element, a popup displays with a list of items that the users scrolls up or down. After the user chooses an item, your application should move to the next element and make it visible to the user.

Remember that design UI elements with 3D touch work much differently with mobile apps rather than desktops. Your design elements should match the target platform. Take a look at standard elements for iOS. Notice that they are different than Android’s. Creating standard UI elements helps make your apps intuitive for your users.

3. Use Error Handling to Trap Mistakes

Every coder makes a logic error in their program once in awhile. It’s not uncommon for users to enter an unforeseen input that you didn’t handle. For instance, maybe you have an input textbox for a user’s area code. You check for alphabetic characters, but you forget to check for special characters such as an exclamation point or a question mark. If you then store the data in a numeric storage unit, your application crashes.

These types of logic errors should always be handled so that the application never crashes. Instead, an error message should be sent back to the user. iOS apps should use the Error protocol. You can derive your custom error messages from this class.

Let’s take an example of a customer error enumerator.

enum InputError : Error {
case notNumeric
case specialCharacters
case shortLength
}

In the above code, we have an enum data type that defines three values. These values account for the possible input errors from a user. You then use this enum variable to display errors based on incorrect user input. Note that basic Swift coding standards use a capital letter for the new enum data type but CamelCase for the enum’s variables.

The following is an example of using the enum data type.

let error = .notNumeric
switch error {
case . notNumeric:
print("The input you entered was not a numeric value.")
case . specialCharacters:
print("The input you enter must not contain special characters.")
case . shortLength:
print("The area code must be three numbers.")
}

4. Create an Intuitive Project Directory Structure

Having an intuitive project directory structure isn’t always necessary for small personal projects, but when you work with enterprise-level development you’re probably not the only coder to work on the project. Project directories should be organized and intuitive in case another developer needs to maintain or fix your code.

Without intuitive project structure, your code can get messy and unorganized. This may lead to other developers adding more bugs to the code or creating redundant classes. For instance, you might have a class that defines the way customers create an order. If an addition to the order process must be made and the developer can’t find your current classes, he may end up creating redundant code thinking it hasn’t been written yet.

5. Don’t Forget Your Apple ID

Before you can upload your app to the App Store, you need an Apple ID. You use this Apple ID to sign your code. You must sign your code before you upload it to the store. The sign identifies you as the coder and developer. If you develop for a client, send them all the necessary files so that they can upload to the store.

An Apple ID is free to create, however there is an annual account fee of 100$ when you choose to host your app(s) on the App Store. You can upload any apps provided they follow Apple’s Terms of Service. Some clients may add you as a developer to their own accounts so you can upload and manage the code for them.

It’s best to get this sorted out before you complete the development process and are ready to upload a compiled app binary so that you can release the app quickly for your clients.

Conclusion

Managing iOS projects doesn’t have to be difficult if you just follow best practices and keep your project organized. iOS accounts for a large part of the mobile audience, so it’s a lucrative market to tap with an iOS version of your app.

Remember to make apps intuitive for mobile users and closely follow Apple’s Human Interface guidelines. Always handle errors to ensure that the app doesn’t crash, test your projects before every release, and sign them before uploading to the app store.


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