Sunday, 24 April 2016

How to get started with App Development

Getting Started with App Development

Let us begin with a question a lot of people ask and a question I asked myself, what is the difference between an app and a game? Aren't games apps anyway? Yes and no but they are two different things so let's get this out of the way first.

What is an App?

An app is a tool and should solve a problem, answer a question or help the user accomplish something. They should be easy to use right out of the box with no experience or learning required. Examples of apps are QR and Bar Code readers, Internet Speed testers, Maps, Flight radars, Calculators and so on.
A game on the other hand has a goal and requires problem solving and usually has a learning curve. A game should be challenging and entertaining with catchy music and visually appealing graphics.

Apps are created differently to games, apps are generally lightweight whereas games are large because they are made using game engines and are generally heavy on the graphics side. Before you even start coding a game, adding graphics and sound the size of the game could be as large as 10MB. Apps on the other hand tend to use features that are already built into the operating system thus keeping the file size quite small, depending on how many graphics and sound assets they incorporate of course.

For the sake of brevity we will talk about games as apps for the rest of this article now we have explained the difference.

A concern many new developers have is the amount of apps already on the market and is it possible to get your shiny new app found, like finding a needle in a haystack you might think. This can be true if you are only looking through the main categories, the good news is that most people use the search box in the stores to find an app that more closely meets their requirements. As long as your app has decent reviews and customer retention among other factors your app can still get found by carefully choosing the right keywords.

 

How many apps are there in the app store?

Google launched their Google Apps Market Place in March 2010 followed 2 years later, again in March, with the Android Market now called the Google Play Store or Google Play for short. The growth has been exponential and shows no signs of slowing down as more and more people jump onto the band wagon on a daily basis. At the time of writing this article Google has a staggering 2 million apps in it's store with Apple not far behind. This is being exacerbated by more and more app development tools making it increasingly easy for just about anyone with little or no knowledge of programming to be able to make an application in a relatively short amount of time.

With over 700 new apps being released every day you would be right in thinking that the market is saturated but I can tell you now that there will always be money to be made with the right product if it's special, unique, creative or beautiful to look at. Apart from the odd exception you simply can't get away with mediocre like you could a few years ago. Having a unique and beautifully made app doesn't automatically guarantee success though and I'll talk more about this later on.

What is the best operating system, Android or iOS?

That's a no brainer, Android commands an impressive 80% of the mobile market share compared to just 15% for Apple's iphones. It's also a lot easier to get an app accepted into Google's Play Store, publishing an app to the Play Store is almost instantaneous whereas Apple reviews all new apps which can take weeks, if there is a problem with your app you have to fix it then submit it again and wait. Apple is a lot more stringent and has more rules and regulations, although you are more likely to get people willing to part with their money with Apple than you are with Google's users. App development is generally easier with Android so if you're new to this that might be something you should think about.

Anyhow, you might not have a choice of operating systems. The two are not compatible so if you have an Apple computer you can't export to Android on it and the same is true the other way around. My advice would be to go with what you've got to start with and if your app is successful then it would be worth buying the other operating system to increase your reach.

Your first App

It always starts with an idea, an invention or a eureka moment. You get all exited that you've thought of the next million dollar app and you're positive it's going to be a success! You can't stop thinking about it and you want to tell everyone but you're scared someone might steal your idea.
Sorry to burst your bubble but the chances are it's already been done and probably been done many times over. Not only that, it might not be the fantastic idea you think it is. If it hasn't been done before then you need to ask yourself, why? Could it be impracticable or extremely difficult to implement on a mobile device? Is it going to cost a fortune and involve employing an office full of people? Will it take years to make and will the market still be there in years to come or will somebody else already be working on it right now and beat you to it, the chances are there will be someone somewhere with the same idea, it's almost inevitable. I'm sorry about the doom and gloom but you have to be realistic, but hey, don't let me put you off.

So you've got a great idea for an app but know nothing about app development. The good news is I'm going to help you but there are still a lot of things I should point out to you before you jump right in.

First of all I'm going to split this topic into bite sized pieces because this subject is huge. If you've read this far then you must dying to learn more, why not have a little breather then continue to the next article app advice.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom, we answer all comments daily.
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About the author 

Martin is the chief programmer for Magical Games who have only released one Android Trivia Game so far. But this game took 2 years to make with virtually no help from anyone. We want to share our experience and the knowledge we have gained during the past 2 years with people looking to make their first app but don't know where to start. We believe the world is one big family, and we need to help each other.