What Is an iOS App Developer? A 2024 Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • 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 developer in this rapidly growing field.

[Featured Image] A woman works at a desk.

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. 

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.

What is an iOS app developer?

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

Mobile games

Gaming applications are the most popular category in the Apple app store [1]. A notable example is Apex Legends, Apple's iPhone Game of the Year in 2022 [2]. It was developed by iOS developers at Electronic Arts (EA), a video game publishing company. iOS developers specialising in game development may be employed by companies like EA or Ubisoft, work independently, or partner with other creatives for a specific gaming project. On GitHub, you can explore public code repositories, tools, and tutorials for iOS game development.

Productivity applications

A good productivity app helps you solve problems or do things more efficiently. For example, Evernote is a robust note-taking app that stores text, links, images, files, and more. The Grammarly app checks content for grammar mistakes and suggests improving your writing. Creating a to-do-list-style productivity app is an excellent exercise for a novice iOS developer. Although the concept is simple, the execution has plenty of room for expanded features.

Business applications

Business applications are the second most popular category in the Apple app store [1]. As mentioned above, most businesses rely on applications for inventory management, billing, or customer relationship management. Companies like Amazon or Etsy may employ iOS developers to work on applications that support essential business functions.

Where do iOS developers work?

iOS developers may be employed by a company directly, freelance, or be self-employed. Many iOS developers work remotely, although work-from-home flexibility varies from company to company. Developers can work in various fields since most industries rely on applications for customer relations or product support. However, finance, technology, and retail are among the top industries employing iOS developers [3].

iOS developer skills

While proficiency in Swift and Objective-C is essential, many other skills are desirable for iOS app developers.

Insight from an engineer

“Knowing how to approach and tackle a problem you don't know how to solve is definitely a skill that I've had to use at work constantly,” says Mari Batilando, a software engineer at Meta

“Meta's vast reach and scale means it has unique problems you may not have encountered before. Knowing how to simplify and decompose these problems into smaller, solvable parts is important to contribute and make an impact in the company.”


Non-technical skills

iOS developers must be able to work on a team. Team members may include other developers or employees in different departments, like marketing. At any level, it’s important for an iOS developer to be:

  • Patient

  • Flexible

  • Organised

  • 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 entry-level or mid-level iOS app developer:

  • Be familiar with Xcode, Apple’s 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. 

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

iOS programming languages

According to its creators, Swift is a programming language designed as a “general-purpose programming language built using a modern approach to safety, performance, and software design patterns” [4]. Apple created it in 2014 as the best language for developers to use for many projects.

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 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. However, it 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 developers [5]. 

iOS app developer salary

On average, an iOS app developer in India had an annual base salary of ₹3,84,774 per year in March 2024, according to Indeed [6]. Your salary will likely depend upon company size, location, and job demand. A start-up will pay less than a larger company. 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.

iOS developer job outlook

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. A global scarcity of iOS developers continues driving demand for those with the right skills, a trend many experts anticipate will remain ongoing.  

According to PPI, India will overtake the US as the world’s largest developer population centre by 2024 [7]. There is a talent shortage of iOS app developers, so there’s expected to continue to be high demand at lucrative salaries [8].

How to become an iOS App Developer

You have a few different pathways to becoming an iOS app developer. First, choose a language to learn or an iOS app developer certification course in Swift or Objective-C. 

These options should help you understand your programming language, the frameworks involved, and the concepts used for iOS development. The more apps you build, the more proficient you'll become and the sooner you’ll land your dream job.

Get started in iOS development with Coursera

On Coursera, you can find a variety of courses and Specialisations in 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. Enrol in Foundations of Objective-C App Development or Meta iOS Developer Professional Certificate to help you master the language, methodology, tools, and more of iOS app development. 

Article sources


Statista. “Most Popular Apple App Store Categories 2022, https://www.statista.com/statistics/270291/popular-categories-in-the-app-store/.” Accessed March 29, 2024.

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