iOS App Development: How To Build An iOS App In 5 Steps & More Tips

App Development
iOS App Development: How To Build An iOS App In 5 Steps & More Tips
Article by Maria Martin
Last Updated: January 04, 2022

Start-ups and business have a lot to gain with their presence on Apple's App Store.

Apple has a reputation for creating upscale, lifestyle products of higher quality. The business of building iOS apps has become a multi-million dollar industry.

Likewise, the resulting high-profile of having your app featured in App Store is something that can’t be expressed in income figures.

If you want to build a game-changing app and look for ways to board the bustling App Store market then this is the place to be.

This is your guide to iOS app development.

From mobile application cost to development tools, here you will find everything you might need to find success in the Apple’s App Store.

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What Is iOS App Development?

iOS app development is the process of creating applications for devices that run on the iOS operating system.

These include iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, smart Apple TV, Apple Watch and more.

The main programming languages that power iOS apps are Objective-C and Swift.

Objective-C is a superset of the C programming language which provides object-oriented capabilities and focuses on reusability of code.

Swift, on the other hand, is a compiled, general-purpose and multi-paradigm language developed by Apple in 2014.

According to Swift:

“Swift is the result of the latest research on programming languages, combined with decades of experience building Apple platforms.”

The language is modern, safe, fast and quite in-demand.

According to TIOBE Index for December 2020, it is the 10th most popular language and it may replace Objective-C in the future.

iOS app developers can build:

  • Native iOS applications: These are built specifically for iOS devices only using the languages compatible with the platform.
  • Cross-platform applications: These work on multiple operating systems and are typically developed in HTML and CSS.
Ios app development: App Store
There are almost 1.96 million apps in Apple’s App Store

How To Build An iOS App

Follow these five steps to turn your app idea into reality.

Step #1: Perform An In-Depth Research

The initial step to building iOS mobile applications is to perform research and analyze:

  • The app market: Apple’s App Store hosts millions of apps. With such a competitive market, you need to understand what kind of applications are there within the same sector and if it is possible for your app to gain traction and get enough downloads.
  • Your specific audience: It is no secret that Apple users are a very specific group of consumers – and you should think in terms of this every step of the way as you plan your iOS app development steps. Communicating with this niche and understanding it in the way that really speaks to it is essential. iOS users value cutting-edge design, trendy features and the feeling of always being at the vanguard of the mobile app user scene.
  • Your competition: Browse similar apps and spy on your competition to understand their strengths and weaknesses. See what you can offer that your industry‘s competitors lack and develop a much better product based on what your audience likes and preferences.

Step #2: Check App Store Guidelines

For an app to be successful after it is fully developed, it first and foremost needs to comply with Apple’s guidelines.

According to the tech company:

"The guiding principle of the App Store is simple - we want to provide a safe experience for users to get apps and a great opportunity for all developers to be successful. We do this by offering a highly curated App Store where every app is reviewed by experts and an editorial team helps users discover new apps every day."

Apple has strict rules, and before submitting your app, your developers will need to go through five key steps and check for rules around:

  • Safety
  • Performance
  • Business
  • Design
  • Legal

Just because Apple publishes only those applications that meet their specific requirements related to those five aspects, you need to make sure that your developer carefully goes through each of these so that you can submit it successfully.

Step #3: Design The App

During this stage, the design team of your iOS app development company will step up to bring your ideas to life.

They will focus on three main aspects:

  • Concept and wireframing: All the requirements are being documented and designers start creating wireframes that show how the app will look.
  • User experience: Besides making sure the app is nice looking, they will also make certain it is fully functional, easy to use and navigate. For that sake, they will pay deep attention to usability and navigation to ensure an engaging user experience.
  • Software architecture: Your designers will take certain steps to ensure the scalability and stability of your mobile application.

Step #4: Develop The App

In the development stage, your iOS app developers will take the following two steps:

  • Setup your MAC for the development process: Make sure your developers use MAC computers. Using VMWare or Hackintosh to create your app on Windows is not recommended by Apple for coding purposes.
  • Use the Xcode tool: Xcode is Apple’s integrated development environment (IDE) which includes the iOS SDK (Software Development Kit). It also contains a set of key APIs and tools like a source code editor(UI). Your developers will use this platform and the integrated Simulator app to build the app, simulate it on a number of iOs versions and hardware types as well as deploy your application for testing.
  • Run the app: Using Xcode, your developers will be able to run your applications to see how it looks like and how users can interact with it if it was live.

Step #5: Test The App

After the technical app development phase is finished, the next step is to perform Quality Assurance (QA) testing.

This is an important process that will make sure the app is fully functional and free of bugs and errors.

Here, your developers will review your product for:

  • Intuitive user experience
  • Optimized performance
  • Security
  • Optimal memory usage
  • And more

In other words, they will ensure that the app is compliant with all the guidelines set by Apple.

With this process finished, your app is good to be submitted in the App Store.

Top 5 Benefits Of iOS App Development

Mobile applications have been the center of focus among smartphone users for a long time. And their popularity doesn’t seem to stop soon.

Especially the COVID-19 crisis made it obvious that we are more dependent on them than ever before.

So, it comes as no surprise that they will be a record number of $112 billion mobile applications by the end of 2020.

However, with as many as 2.87 million apps in Google Play Store and almost 1.96 million apps in Apple’s App Store, for businesses, it is challenging to decide which app market to invest in.

While both Android and iOS have their own pros and cons, these are the key benefits of iOS app development:

Benefit #1: Great User Experience

An interesting fact says that 56% of users remove the apps from their devices within the first week of installation.

According to CleverTap, with 5.4%, experiencing technical issues is one of the key reasons for this.

However, unlike most applications created for Android devices, iOS apps are created based on:

  • Stainless standards of hardware
  • Flawless software functions

Apple offers top-notch customer service backed with constant app development life cycle maintenance and synergy of hardware and software.

Unlike some Android apps, iOS applications always function smoothly after download and the company’s superior tech innovations play a major role here.

This makes for a spotless performance which brought Apple success on the market.

 Ios app development: top reasons for app uninstalls
[Source: CleverTap]

Benefit #2: Cheaper And Faster Development

When compared to Android, iOS has a cheaper and faster development which is mainly owned to the flawless Swift programming language.

Thanks to it, developing an iOS app is not only faster but also less expensive than creating Android apps which are coded in more demanding and generally sluggish Java.

Additionally, unlike iOS, Android is an open source platform.

In other words, Android app developers tend to test their applications on a wide range of versions, screens and devices.

iOS, on the other hand, has a closed ecosystem meaning specialized developers create apps for a few standardized systems and devices.

Benefit #3: High Security Standards

As the number of mobile users continuously increases, it’s no wonder that hackers focus their attacks on smartphones rather than on desktops.

The data supports this fact and based on a security report, 71% of fraud transactions came via mobile applications and mobile browsers in Q2 2018.

Marriott, the world-famous hotel chain, experienced a security breach in February 2020 that impacted more than 5.2 million hotel guests.

The hackers got access to key information including:

  • Personal details
  • Contact details
  • Loyalty account
  • Partnerships and affiliations
  • Preferences

This is the second security breach Marriott has disclosed within 16 months.

These facts emphasize the need for businesses to ensure that they are investing in a highly-secured app to keep their data and users safe from external threats like malware, viruses and phishing.

One of the major benefits of iOS app development is that iOS products have high-security layers that provide a strong shield against:

  • Data duplication
  • Data encryption
  • Data theft

This allows for safe transactions and other types of operations since the OS maintains user identity, data privacy and app data in the Cloud.

Benefit #4: Market Presence In Most Developed Nations

Apple is often accused of being “elitist”.

However, this is mere because their high-end products are popular in developed markets where the business return on investment rate is very high due to a high standard of living.

Although Android users are higher in number, the iOS user is willing to spend more, therefore, revenue from iOS app development’s end result is consequently higher.

SensorTower projects that the App Store will reach $115.4 billion in revenue, whereas Google Play Store spending will hit $55.5 billion in 2024.

It means that iOS users’ spending will account for 67% of the spending in both stores.

The bottom line: Businesses that want to obtain more paying clients should invest in iOS app development.

Ios app development: global App Store and Google Play Store spending
[Source: SensorTower]

Benefit #5: Strong Brand Value & Loyal Client Base

The tech company is one of the most trusted brands on a global level. It has a well-established community of users and manages to attract a huge number of returning clients thanks to the quality and performance of its products.

Apple enthusiasts are a loyal bunch, and who wouldn’t want to have access to a consumer base that values such a virtue (so you can value it back)?

It naturally follows that Apple users are also, in general, happy users. As iOS apps work smoothly, the chances are you too will be a happy app provider.

Android vs. iOS App Development – Where Do You Invest In First?

Sometimes it can be expensive to build an app for both Android and iOS operating systems. So, instead, you should decide to create your application for one platform only.

But how do you decide what is the best option for your business?

It all comes down to five key factors:

  • Audience
  • Revenue generation plan
  • Development possibilities
  • Project timeline
  • Development cost

We’ve provided the facts so that you can choose for yourself which operating system to develop for:

#1: Audience

With a market share of 71.18% in November 2020, Android is the leader in the mobile industry.

iOS, on the other hand, is the second most popular operating system with a share of 28.19%.

So, if you want to reach a wider audience Android may be your best bet.

According to the same source, Android is mostly used by people located in:

  • Japan
  • The US
  • The UK

iOS is the preferred operating system for people based in:

  • Western Europe
  • China
  • Nigeria
  • India
Ios app development: operating systems market share per country
[Source: Statista]

However, don’t decide on a single fact only.

Another key characteristic is that there is a huge gap between the revenue iOS and Android applications generate.

As mentioned above, iOS users tend to spend more than twice on in-app purchases when compared to Android users. And they are more loyal as well.

The spending habits suggest that iOS users probably:

  • Hold higher degrees
  • Make more money
  • Are happier

So, if your goal is to build brand loyalty and acquire a bunch of engaged users, then iOS app development can be the right choice.

Ios app development: mobile operating systems market share
[Source: StatCounter]

#2: Revenue Generation Plan

App monetization is a key factor to consider when choosing between Android or iOS app development.

There are several ways your app can make money:

  • Advertisements
  • Subscriptions
  • In-app purchases
  • Pay per download
  • And more

According to Statista, in September 2020, 3.5% of all apps on Google play store and 7.7% of all iOS app on Apple’s App Store were paid.

From these numbers we can draw the following conclusions:

  • Android users tend to spend less and they are more likely to download free apps
  • iOS users are more willing to download paid apps

So, if your plan is to charge smartphone users for downloading your app, then iOS app development can be the best choice for you.

 Ios app development: the number of free and paid apps on App and Google Play Stores
[Source: Statista]

#3: Development Possibilities

iOS is a closed platform. It means that it has various limitations in modifying hardware and software.

In other words, customization is more difficult for iOS than for Android applications.

An example of this would be the impossibility of developing an app while disabling the Home button. Of course, unless Apple decides to do it one day.

Android, on the other hand, is an open-source platform and is more agile regarding customization.

It means that you can choose the type of features and functionalities that you want and your audience needs.

#4: Project Timeline

If you need your application to be developed within a certain time frame then you should definitely take the operating system into account.

In 2018, there were more than 16,000 Google Play certified devices including Samsung, Xiaomi, LG and Sony.

With so many different devices there is a huge variety of screen sizes that your developers should adapt your app to.

On the other hand, there are 130 unique Apple mobile devices including iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPad air 4th Gen.

Apart from the number and diversity of devices, another key factor to consider is the versions of both operating systems.

Android users own devices that run older versions of the platform. For you, it would mean a longer and more complex development process.

In contrast, Apple has a closed ecosystem which means developers will create apps for fewer standardized devices.

The line of the company consists of a relatively small number of current models, therefore iOS app development can accelerate product release and simplify your developers’ work.

In addition, considering the fact that Apple applications are available for download from a single source only, the testing process would take relatively less time than testing for a large number of Android devices.

#5: Development Cost

The development cost is one of the most important decision making points, especially for startups and businesses that have a limited budget.

It mostly depends on two major factors:

  • Lines of code
  • Hours of work

To understand the pricing structure of both Android and iOS apps, you need to understand the complexity of their development process first.

Typically, Android applications can cost more because:

  • There are more devices powered by the platform, so Android app developers should develop for many different screens and sizes
  • The testing process takes longer since developers also test for different screens and versions
  • The platform relies on using Java, meaning developers spend more time coding, whereas iOS uses a native language - Swift which reduces development time thereby cutting down costs
  • It allows higher customization which requires more work and that translates to more hour spend but also more money
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How Much Does It Cost To Develop An iOS App?

As with anything cost-related, iOS app development can also get somewhat tricky.

The average cost of developing a smartphone application depends on several factors and what drives them can be summed up with:

  • The level of app development complexity (whether it’s basic, middle of the road or complex)
  • How prolific the company is (a new business looking for its place under the sun or well-established veterans of the industry)
  • The sophistication of design and its customization
  • App infrastructure and backend
  • Features and platform the app is made for
  • The geographical location of the app development company
  • Team size (how many project managers, UIUX designers, developers and QA specialists it has)

So, the question is – how do you estimate the cost of the iOS app development process?

Generally speaking, businesses seeking to enter this cutting-edge vertical will need to cash out anything between $5,000 and $300,000 for a team of developers to plan, design, engineer, test and deploy an iOS app.

That is quite a gap! And it’s justified by the key factors listed above. Assuming you are in a business that wishes to be a proud owner of a sturdy, reliable end-product, the cost of a medium complexity app might exceed the $70,000 mark.

Depending on app functionality and complexity, a different hourly rate will be applied to the final cost. The question of time invested in iPhone app development and implementation of its features is a delicate one.

Looking at it very loosely, the time needed for developing an Apple app from scratch ranges like this:

  • 400-750 hours for a simple functionality application
  • 750-1100 for medium complexity application
  • Well over 1200 hours for apps of high complexity

Adding high-end features that boost user engagement, payment processing, user log in and so forth, naturally, increases the time needed to complete the app and, consequently, the going rate.

There are, of course, other costs developers should be wary about, related to actually hosting the app in the App Store which has a fee of $99 per year.

However, due to the store’s policy of taking a percentage of your sales, as your sales volume increases, the question of fee expenses will become less significant over time.

And speaking in terms of return on investment, in August 2020, the average price of apps in the App Store was $0.94, as stated by Statista.

According to the same source, the most popular iOS app category was gaming apps which came with an average price of 50 cents, even though a majority of 1.96 million apps (the current number estimate for App Store) are free to download.

Ios app development: average prices for apps
[Source: Statista]


Best iOS App Development Software

iOS app development software allows developers and businesses with no experience in coding and programming to create iOS applications easily and quickly.

After extensive research, we’ve listed the best of them:

 Ios app development software: Buildfire
[Source: Buildfire]

#1: Buildfire

Buildfire is a powerful iOS app development software with an easy-to-use dashboard from where developers can build an application in a fraction of time.

It has a simple and intuitive interface where they can easily add features and functionalities. There are more than 150 plugins available on the platform and developers can create intro slides to provide users with engaging experience.

Buildfire handles all the publishing and submission, so your iOS app can be released with a single click.

Thousands of businesses use the tool including notable brands like Pepsi, PayPal, Pandora and Cisco.

Building applications with Buildfire is free. However, hosting and maintenance plans start at $189/month.

Zoho Creator platform
[Source: Zoho Creator]

#2: Zoho Creator

Zoho Creator is a low-code tool that allows developers to build iOS apps much faster with less effort. It has a drag-and-drop editor where they can create products from within a single dashboard.

It is mostly aimed at companies searching to automate tasks. So, they can especially build applications around:

  • Order management
  • Logistics
  • Sales tracking
  • Event management
  • And more

Some of its key features include:

  • AI features
  • Cloud functions
  • Offline mobile access
  • Payment gateway integration including PayPal
  • Uncompromising security
  • Debugging
  • Compatibility testing
  • Insightful reports

About six million applications have been developed with the platform and it has more than seven million users on a global level.

Some brands that use Zoho Creator are Whirlpool, Audible and Zomato.

The pricing of this iOS app development software starts at $15.00/month. There is a free trial of 15 days.

Swing2App platform
[Source: Swing2App]

#3: Swing2App

Swing2App is a no-code iOS app development software used by startups and well-established businesses.

From homepage, to push shipping and real-time updates, it offers all the tools that developers might need to build a fully functional application.

Some key features include:

  • Access controls
  • Code refactoring
  • Collaboration tools
  • Deployment management
  • Testing
  • Debugging
  • Reporting & analysis

What’s unique about this platform is that it offers many UI styles and templates with which developers can create intuitive designs.

Using Swing2App, developers around the globe have created 65,261 applications. Some brands that count on the platform are Nike and OneSignal.

The platform offers free versions to build an application. However, with them, publishing apps to the App Store is not available.

Paid options start at $33/month. platform

#4: is a great tool that enables rapid development.

With this drag-and-drop, low-code iOS app development software, developers can create both native and web apps compatible with the popular platform.

They can integrate an existing backend with the app they build, import and use backend services for a faster and cheaper development process.

Some features the platform offers include:

  • Compatibility
  • Testing
  • Debugging
  • Source Control
  • Access controls
  • Code refactoring
  • Collaboration tools
  • Deployment management
  • Reporting & analysis

More than 10,000 applications have been published on and some of the well-known brands that have used its services are Samsung and AT&T.

Pricing starts at $25.00/month. For the Pro plan, there is a free trial of 14 days.

Apppy Pie tool
[Source: Apppy Pie]

#5: Appy Pie

Appy Pie is an easy-to-use iOS app development software that grows fast in popularity. It is most suitable for small and medium-sized businesses that lack advanced skills in coding and programming.

The tool makes the process of app development quite easy since developers simply pick a design, customize it, add the desired features and publish it to the Apple App Store.

It is well known for its variety of features like:

  • Navigation and step-by-step directions
  • Push notifications
  • Multilingual support
  • Integrated photos and videos
  • Integrated social media functionality
  • Coupons and discounts
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Publishing assistance
  • Analytics
  • And more

Nike, Deloitte and L`Oreal are just a few of the notable companies that have used the platform.

Pricing starts at $18/app/month with a free trial of seven days.

iBuildApp tool
[Source: iBuildApp]

#6: iBuildApp

Creating mobile apps with the iBuildApp tool takes a matter of minutes since no coding is required.

Developers just choose out of 1,000 templates, make necessary changes, add images, videos, text, etc.

Some features this iOS app development software offers include:

  • Code refactoring
  • Compatibility testing
  • Debugging
  • Reporting & analysis
  • Source control
  • Collaboration tools
  • Deployment management

The tool makes integrations with Google Maps Apps available.

iBuildApp pricing starts at $59.40/month and the platform offers a 15-day money back guarantee on all plans.

Shoutem tool
[Source: Shoutem]

#7: Shoutem

Shoutem is a powerful iOS app development software that lets you create apps in an easy, drop and drag way.

Developers can choose between 40+ built-in screen types and 200+ customizable layouts.

Some of its cool features include:

  • Monetization options
  • Push notifications
  • Mobile selling
  • Exclusive offers
  • Support of multiple content sources
  • Automated publishing facility
  • Analytics

The platform integrates with Twitter, Facebook, Shopify, WordPress, Drupal and Ning.

Shoutem pricing starts at $79 per month when billed annually. All of its plans come with a free trial of 14 days.

FAQ: Can You Develop An iOS App On Windows?

The biggest issue that holds developers from building iOS apps on Windows is Xcode because it is only compatible with macOS.

However, the answer is yes, you can develop an iOS app on Windows and there are several ways you can do that:

#1: Using A Virtual Machine

Considering the fact that Xcode runs only on Apple's operating software system, a solution would be to install it on a Windows PC using virtual platforms to help you redirect the iOS devices to a virtual environment.

The process is called virtualization and it is the quickest and simplest way to build an iOS app.

It is a three-step process that involves:

  • Installing a virtual platform like VMware or VirtualBox
  • Installing and setting up a macOS in the virtual machine
  • Installing Xcode on macOS

Once Apple’s integrated development environment (IDE) is installed, it will run on a Guest OS and coding and iOS Simulator capabilities are available to developers.

#2: Rent a Cloud-Based Mac

Another option is to rent a Mac in the Cloud which will allow you to remotely access the operating system and Xcode through your PC.

There are several companies that provide these type of services including:

  • MacinCloud
  • MacStadium
  • XcodeClub

They can provide you with access to a physical Mac where you can simply log in, install Xcode and start creating your app.

#3: Use An Alternative To Xcode

Developers can use third party solutions and cross platform tools that will help you generate an app that runs on iOS devices including:

  • Xmarine
  • React Native
  • Appcelerator

Tools like these require a basic understanding of programming, compilation options and the macOS ecosystem.

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Takeaways On iOS App Development

Jumping on the iOS app development and App Store bandwagon makes all the sense in the world – if done right!

Although complying with numerous regulations and Apple Guidelines might be a difficult task, the fruit of this labor can be sweet.

The key benefits of iOS app development are:

  • Great user experience
  • Cheap and fast
  • High security
  • Market presence in most developed nations
  • Strong brand value and loyal client base

To build an iOS app successfully, follow these steps:

  • Perform an in-depth research
  • Check app store guidelines
  • Design the app
  • Develop the app
  • Test the app

If you decide to use iOS app development software, then you can consider some of the top-rated tools on the market like:

  • Buildfire
  • Zoho Creator
  • Swing2App
  • Appy Pie
  • iBuildApp
  • Shoutem

You can also develop an iOS app on Windows by:

  • Using a virtual machine
  • Renting a CloudbBased Ma
  • Using an alternative to Xcode
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