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How to Become an iOS Developer

What Is a iOS Developer?

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What Is an iOS Developer?

An iOS Developer creates, tests, and improves applications for mobile devices that use Apple's iOS operating system. An iOS Developer needs to have an excellent understanding of how iOS works and interacts with different Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, and adjust their applications to fit the needs of their firm or client accordingly.

What Are iOS Developer Job Responsibilities?

An iOS Developer job description would likely include all of the following responsibilities:

  • Designing and building advanced apps for mobile devices that use Apple’s iOS platform
  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams to design, define, and ship new app features.
  • Unit-testing code for robustness, including edge cases, usability, and general reliability, to ensure quality and performance of apps.
  • Identifying potential problems, fixing bugs, and resolving app bottlenecks.
  • Fixing application bugs before final release.
  • Publishing app on App Store.
  • Maintaining the code and atomization of the iOS application and designing and implementing app updates.
  • Continuously discover, evaluate, and implement new technologies to maximize app development efficiency.

iOS Developers Education

Many iOS Developers come to the field after pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer science, software engineering, or mathematics, but that’s not true of all iOS Developers. Many didn’t even start their careers in the field at all; BrainStation’s 2020 Digital Skills Survey showed that more than half of iOS Developer respondents began working in a field other than iOS development before making a career change.

A bachelor’s degree will no doubt help, but clearly, there are specific skills relating to iOS Development that simply can’t be acquired in a traditional college degree program. Even someone with programming or software development experience might not have the exact skillset necessary to become an iOS Developer and would likely need to work to upskill.

A part-time iOS Development would give you the technical skills necessary to build off whatever prior educational or professional experience you’ve had in a development environment. You could also try the self-taught route, keeping in mind that there are certain programming languages and tools -- Objective C, Swift, and Xcode -- that you absolutely must master before you can become an iOS Developer.

Characteristics of a Successful iOS Developer

All successful iOS Developers seem to share a few traits in common. Here are the characteristics of a successful iOS Developer:

A Good iOS Developer Has Outstanding Technical Skills

A successful iOS Developer will be fluent and skilled in a number of essential programming languages and tools. Specifically, an iOS Developer must be comfortable with the following:

  • Objective C. The longstanding principle programming language used to write software for iOS (and for any Apple or Mac operating system), Objective C is like an added layer atop C, making it highly compatible with C++. True to its name, Objective C is a simple computer language designed to enable sophisticated object-oriented programming.

  • Swift. While Objective C is an offshoot of C, Swift was purpose-made for programming for iOS and other Apple operating systems. According to Apple, Swift runs 2.6 times faster than Objective C. Swift is a young programming language that is growing quickly, developing a strong community that actively contributes to its formation. And at this stage of development, Swift isn’t restricted to the Apple ecosystem only. It’s started running in the Linux environment too.

  • Xcode is a suite of tools designed for building software for Apple’s various operating systems. It supports a wide variety of languages including C, C++, Objective C, Java, Python, Ruby, and Swift). Tightly integrated with the Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks, Xcode is a complete developer toolkit for creating apps for Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Xcode collects user interface design, coding, testing, debugging, and submitting to the App Store all into one unified workflow.

A Good iOS Developer Understands Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines

Every iOS Developer job description will call for knowledge of Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, which provide in-depth information and user interface resources for all of Apple’s platforms.

Apple created the guide to help designers create more compelling, intuitive, and beautiful experiences and design better iOS apps with better user interactions.

The Human Interface Guidelines can be helpful at every stage of the software development process, as it offers a comprehensive view of key UI elements and associated APIs, as well as best practices to help you implement features into your app.

iOS Developers Are Team Players

Rarely will an iOS Developer work in isolation. You’ll likely work on a development team that will include other app developers, web developers, content producers, web designers, UX/UI designers, and product managers, and your work will affect departments including sales, marketing, data analysis, and customer service.

Navigating all of those relationships will require communication skills, patience, and empathy. To succeed in creating killer iOS apps, you’ll need to lean on the help and wisdom of those around you, even though they might not understand the specifics of your job.

They Understand Spatial Reasoning

One of the most crucial elements in developing an app is spatial reasoning. You must get inside the mind of the end-user of the app to understand how they will interact with it.

To do this, the iOS Developer must have the ability to imagine the spatial relationship between objects. By thinking logically as a user, you will be able to design an interface and add functionalities that improve accessibility and usability.

They Place the Proper Importance on Networking

Networking is one of those oft-overlooked iOS development skills that is nevertheless mandatory to possess. If your iOS app can’t interact with the web and the majority of its features don’t work, what good is it?

Nowadays, almost every mobile application needs to interact with the web in one way or another and this is why networking is important. That’s why even app development companies pay close attention to the networking aspect of an app.

They Have an Apple Mindset

Becoming a successful iOS Developer means having a deep understanding of the Apple landscape and all Apple products. It’s not simply about building a great app, but also knowing how to make a great app that is perfectly compatible with all Apple devices (and intuitive to Apple users) that will empower you to build something that will send Mac fans flocking to the App Store.

What Are Some Job Descriptions Similar to iOS Developer?

Here are some job opportunities with similar roles to an iOS Developer:

  • Mobile App Developer/Android Developer: To put it simply, a Mobile Developer creates functional and esthetically appealing apps for both iOS and Android devices. Android Developers, meanwhile, create applications for Android, the most popular mobile operating system in the world.

  • Front-End Web Developer: A Front-End Web Developer uses a variety of programming languages including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build the front end of websites. In some cases, a Front End Developer might implement the creations of a Web Designer. This web development role does usually involve some level of design.

  • Back-End Web Developer: Back-End Web Developers are essential to the functioning of a website, even if you don’t see their work. Back-End Developers build and maintain the technology that powers the server, application, and database contained in a website's back end. Other Back-End Developers are focused on mobile development using programming languages like HTML5, C++, and Java.

  • Full-Stack Developer: Full-Stack Developers combine the skillsets of Front-End and Back-End Developers. Full-Stack Developers are generally paid more due to the versatility of their skillsets.

  • Software Engineer: A Software Engineer uses mathematical analysis and computer science principles in order to design and develop computer software. Software Engineers develop all sorts of software, including operating systems, computer games, applications, and network control systems.

  • Web Designer: Web Designer is a creative design role in which you decide how websites look, feel, and work for the user. Specific skills necessary for Web Designers would include design tools, HTML, CSS, and some JavaScript.

Who Does an iOS Developer Work With?

Depending on the size of a company, an iOS Developer would typically work within a web development team that would include Web Developers, Web Designers, UX/UI Designers, Product Managers, and Software Engineers.

But app development is important enough that iOS Developers do a lot of cross-disciplinary collaboration with marketing, sales, product, and customer service teams.

Reasons to Become an iOS Developer

If you’re curious about joining the world of mobile development, here are the top reasons to become an iOS Developer:

iOS Has More Intuitive Developer Tools

If you’re a fan of the simple, sleek, and user-friendly approach Apple takes to designing its products, you’ll appreciate its easy-to-use iOS development tools.

Most Developers prefer using Xcode to anything offered for Android, especially since they’ve been using it for so long. Also, the iOS ecosystem is known for being limiting, but the strict rules and regulations governing which apps make it to the App Store actually constitute great guidelines as you develop, especially for beginners.

You Can Develop for Platforms and Devices You’re Passionate About

Chances are, if you’re considering a career in iOS development, you’re already a committed Apple user. And Apple users are a loyal bunch.

Focusing on the operating system that you actually use in your everyday life on all your home devices will allow you to create better products than if you were a general app developer trying to create an app that will work in an ecosystem that’s unfamiliar to you.

iOS Is More Lucrative Than Android

While Android has the bigger market share globally, market share isn’t everything; Android tends to be popular in developing markets where people don’t have as much disposable income to spend on things like apps.

iOS devices are typically owned by higher-income households who will be more willing to shell out money on apps.

You’ll Waste Less Time on Updates

Operating system adoption is much higher on Apple devices than Android, so you can focus your time on creating and perfecting iOS apps rather than making tedious compatibility tweaks to your app.

Because Android is used by a wide variety of devices, you might have to update your app for many, many OS versions, a repetitive task with no creative reward.

You Won’t Struggle to Find Work

Amid a tech scene where companies are struggling to find top development talent, iOS Developers stand out as particularly scarce.

Recruiting firm Randstad Technologies reported a 104 percent year-over-year increase in the demand for Mobile Application Developers, and Apple’s grip on the market doesn’t seem to be going away.

You Will Likely Secure a High Salary

Because of that demand, salaries for iOS Developers have risen and it is now one of the more lucrative jobs in tech. Mondo’s 2020 Salary Guide places iOS Developer salaries between $90,000 and $165,000.

As with other tech jobs, it pays to be in a major market. iOS Developers in New York and San Francisco make just above $125,000.

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