What Is an iOS App Developer?: A 2022 Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Check out all that can be done as an iOS app developer. From programming languages to skills and next steps, learn how to be a successful in this rapidly growing field.

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If you’ve ever used an app on any Apple device, you have an iOS app developer to thank. These developers are responsible for creating apps for mobile devices that run on Apple’s iOS operating system. 

Developers have in-depth knowledge of how iOS works on different Apple devices, including the iPad and iPhone. iOS developers are able to build, test and fine-tune the applications they create and adapt them to their clients' needs. This is likely done in one of two programming languages, either Swift or Objective-C.

Let’s take a closer look at what you can do as an iOS App Developer, along with some of the skills and requirements you can work toward to get started. 

Learn, create, teach 

iOS app developers are in the unique position to learn by doing, create useful projects while learning, and build a deeper understanding of these concepts as they teach others. Here are a few ways you can do just that.

Create a game

Games are by far the most downloaded category on the app store. A mobile game is a great first project. You’re likely familiar with several simple classic games and can learn a lot from recreating them as an iOS app. Hasn’t someone done that already? Almost definitely, but this is a learning exercise. You can see examples of iOS games on GitHub. There are both single and multiplayer games as well as tools and tutorials to help you create games in any language.

Help others learn 

For a slightly more complicated exercise, try your hand at creating an educational app. Creating an educational app is an exercise of double value since you can center the education on what you’re trying to learn. Some popular educational app examples are Duolingo, Type to Learn, and Hooked on Phonics. It may be worth it to try recreating these apps with both Swift and Objective-C to get a feel for the similarities and differences between the two.

Mix media 

YouTube, Spotify, and Audible are examples of media players created to work with iOS. They can distribute content to users from a server like the examples listed here, or they can play personal files from your iOS device. If you create an app like this, some features to consider building are playlists, search, tags, and recommendations. YouTube is written in Swift, but iOS media player apps are not limited to just this programming language.

Build productivity 

Productivity apps are a huge market. Their specific functions vary widely since these would include anything that helps you get work done. Trello is an app for making lists of cards that contain details on tasks or ideas and is very commonly used in development. Evernote is a robust note taking app that lets you store text, links, images, files, and more. Grammarly checks your writing for grammar mistakes or improvements that could be made to your text. A good productivity app helps you solve a problem and get things done.

A tried and true good first project to create is a to-do list. The concept is simple and the execution has a lot of room for expanded features. Take a look at the features you want to offer in your app and choose your language based on that.

iOS programming languages

According to the creators of Swift, this programming language was created as a “general-purpose programming language built using a modern approach to safety, performance, and software design patterns [1].” Apple created it in 2014 to be the best available language for developers to use for a large range of projects.

A few other features of Swift include the following:

  • It is one of the more efficient languages to use when creating iOS applications.

  • Apps built with Swift can be used on devices dating back to iOS 7 or later. 

  • Swift is compatible with Objective-C, the other most commonly used language for creating iOS applications. 

Like Swift, Objective-C is also a general-purpose language. It was introduced in 1984 and based on the programming language C. Objective-C was the primary language used by Apple before the creation of Swift, but still makes up a significant portion of Apple’s codebase. Due to its versatility, Upwork rated Objective-C as the top-paying programming language for freelance developer [2]. 

iOS developer skills

While proficiency in Swift and Objective-C is essential, many other skills are desirable to be an effective iOS app developer.

People skills

At any level, it’s important for an iOS developer to be:

  • Patient

  • Flexible

  • Organized

  • Self-driven

  • Able to communicate well

  • Able to work well under pressure

Technical skills

Here are some technical skills to develop that will help ensure your success as an iOS app developer:

  • Be familiar with Xcode, Apple’s own integrated development environment (IDE). It aids developers in writing code and assembling apps for use on different devices and operating systems. Xcode is used to design, code, test, and debug an app before sending it to Apple’s App Store. 

  • Know Apple’s human interface guidelines and design guidelines. These are specific attributes that Apple requires for all apps in their App Store. 

Once you’ve moved your way up to a Senior iOS Developer position, it’ll be important to be familiar with:

  • Software architecture

  • Concurrency

  • Reactive programming

  • Deploying animations

  • User testing

What is a typical salary for an iOS app developer?

On average, an iOS app developer’s salary tends to average $98,986 yearly, according to Glassdoor [3]. Your salary will likely depend upon these factors: company size, location, and the demand for jobs. For example, salaries will likely be higher in larger tech hubs like San Francisco, New York, and Atlanta. A start-up will pay less than a larger company like Uber or Facebook. Experience and education are other factors that will come into play.

Another bonus to working in this field is the flexibility that comes with the job. Many positions offer the ability to work remotely, travel, or even relocate to a new city or country.

The job outlook — it looks good  

As more and more companies look to grow their online presence, the demand for iOS app developers is rising significantly. Apple makes up a significant portion of that demand.

The Department of Labor predicts a 22 percent increase in the demand for software developers by 2030 and estimates 409,500 new job opportunities across the United States [4]. 


How to start learning iOS app development

There are a few different pathways to becoming an iOS app developer. First, choose a language to focus on and get very comfortable with it. One easy way to do this is by self-learning or an iOS app developer certification course in Swift or Objective-C. 

These options should help you understand the programming language you’re using, the frameworks involved, and the concepts used for iOS development. Mostly, it’s crucial to continue to build new apps. The more you build, the more proficient you will become, and the sooner you’ll land your dream job.

Coursera can help you find courses and specializations on iOS app development. Whether you’re looking to learn one of the programming languages required for apple products or want to understand the basics of iOS app programming, help is available. Consider enrolling in a course like Foundations of Objective-C App Development or iOS App Development with Swift Development to help you master the language, methodology, tools, and more, or iOS app development. 

Related Articles

Article Sources

1. Apple, Inc. “About Swift, https://www.swift.org/about/." Accessed February 11, 2022.

2. Upwork. “Upwork Releases Top 15 Highest Paying Programming Languages for Independent Web, Mobile, and Software Developers, https://www.upwork.com/press/releases/upwork-releases-top-paying-programming-languages-for-independent-web-mobile-and-software-developers." Accessed February 11, 2022.

3. Glassdoor. “Salary: Ios Developer (February, 2022), https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/ios-developer-salary-SRCH_KO0,13.htm." Accessed February 12, 2022.

4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers : Occupational Outlook Handbook,. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm." Accessed February 14, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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