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How to Become an iOS Developer

What Skills Do You Need to Be an iOS Developer?

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The exact set of skills you’ll draw on daily as an iOS Developer will depend to a large extent on the type of app you’re building—a gaming app like Flappy Bird will obviously require a very different set of aptitudes than will an international banking app, for example. But there are a core set of hard and soft skills that iOS Developers need to have in order to be able to perform their job well.

What Technical Skills Do iOS Developers Need to Have?

Foremost among the hard skills an iOS Developer should know are the two primary programming languages, Swift and Objective-C, and Apple’s integrated development environment, Xcode. Specifically, you’ll need to be comfortable with these language’s syntax and interoperability, and using them to write if and switch statements, manage classes, inheritance and initialization, and handle errors.

With a grasp of the basics, your technical expertise should extend to networking—data exchange, that is, not the personal kind—using JavaScript Object Notation, as well as Core Data (the framework for the persistent data stored on the device, as opposed to the data being exchanged with the network), and Grand Central Dispatch, the API that allows an app to run multiple operations concurrently.

On the front end, iOS Developers should have a familiarity (if not quite an ability) with layout design, information hierarchy and organization, and UI / UX design; all these things will affect how the app looks, and how users interact with it. You’ll also want to be well-informed about Apple’s design guidelines and human interface guidelines, a set of specific properties iOS apps should adhere to or risk being dropped from the App Store.

As you move into a more Senior iOS Developer position, the list of technical aspects you’ll need to know grows to include software architecture, concurrency, reactive programming, how to deploy animations, and user testing.

What Soft Skills Do iOS Developers Need to Have?

Another set of strengths you’ll need to grow as you become a Senior iOS Developer are the soft skills related to leading a team (and it’s never too soon to begin building these). Development is almost always a deadline-driven activity, so organization, exceptional time management, and an ability to work well under pressure are vital. So too is communication; in a senior position, you’ll be responsible for guiding and educating other Developers on your team, which takes diplomacy, patience, teamwork, and clear messaging. And, as a liaison to other departments, you may find yourself writing Emails more frequently than you’re writing code.

Finally, a Senior iOS Developer should demonstrate big-picture thinkingand an “Apple mindset”—deep knowledge of the digital landscape, and the Apple landscape in particular. Knowing how to build an app is just the start; understanding how to make it perfectly compatible with Apple devices (and perfectly intuitive to Apple users) is what will take your work to the next level.

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