What I Learned From Developing and Releasing my First iOS App

August 19, 2020

Earlier this year I published my first iOS app as an indie developer and because I had many questions throughout the way, I figured I’d write a blog post about the things I learned, so other developers wondering the same things can get answers. This article is not a tutorial on how to build an app, I won’t explain any code, but I will share the things I learned on what it takes to publish an app by yourself and why you should do it too.

When you are publishing your first app, it puts you in an extremely vulnerable position. You are sharing something with the world that you have spent weeks, months, maybe even years on and there is no quarantees who people will react to it. I know that I had severe imposter syndrome when publishing my app, and I still do. But the fact is, if you don’t publish you won’t know if your work is any good. The chances are your app is not an over night success, but knowing how people feel is better than wondering. When you get feedback, you can adjust priorities build features users actually want.

Even though I’m not going to tell you how to build an successful app, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. Got an idea? Is this for yourself or are you looking for a wide audience? Who are your competitors? Are there apps in the store already that do the same thing yours does? How is your app different? Got all those questions answered? Cool. Now for the things you didn’t think about, but still need.

  • Website. Yes, there needs to be an actual website up and running that you can link with your app. If you are doing everything by the book, you need a support and a marketing URL.
  • Screenshots. The App Store needs promotional images that need to be a specific size, you might need multiple different sizes too, depending on what platforms you are targeting. Here’s Apples support article on the matter.
  • App Icon. The icon needs to be in a BUNCH of different sizes, but luckily Xcode will tell you the sizes you need to add in the Assets.xcassets
  • Privacy Policy and EULA (you can use Apples standard end user license agreement)
  • Bank account, tax forms etc. if you want to have a paid app. Done in App Store Connect.
  • Identifier, made in developer.apple.com this is where you will find out what you can name your app. Just because there is no app in the App Store with the name you have thought about, doesn’t mean that the name is available.

So what did I learn from publishing my own app? A lot of things. I became more comfortable writing code and sharing what I’ve done publicly. I finally realized that done is better than perfect. And yes, I do realize that nothing is truly ‘done’ in software, but at some point your product, feature, etc. is good enough. That point is sooner than you think, so stop being so critical!

I learnt how to prioritize tasks and features to make the most of my time. I learnt to let got of features I wanted to add, but didn’t give enough value. I’ve learnt to refactor code better by breaking less in the process. Most importantly, I’ve gained confidence in my skills. I have plenty to learn, but I have learnt enough to be able to ship a product (and some people seem to like using it).

So why you should release an app?

  • Portfolio piece. If you want to be an app developer, you need to have something to show recruiters. Since you want to develop apps, you should be able to show apps you’ve developed. If you haven’t published any apps, that tells that you are not really proud of them.
  • Knowledge of the release process. Even if you never need to do any of this yourself again, it’s extremely useful to know all the steps required to actually launch the app. This way you know how much time is needed for other people to do their part.
  • Additional revenue. Money is nice, so having a bit more money is great! If you can make an app that people are willing to pay for (or subscribe to), that allows you to get some more income and save some extra money.

TL;DR Just publish it. It’s worth it!

If you want to check out the app I build, it’s called Bean Juice, and you can find it in the App Store.

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