iOS Development: The Complete Guide To Getting Started

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Looking to build your next app for Apple’s iOS platform? Trio is staffed with a full-time roster of highly experienced developers who specialize in developing mobile apps on iOS.

We can help take your mobile-minded dreams to reality by taking into account what kind of app you are looking to build and what time frame you are looking to build it in. By understanding what you are trying to build on iOS, we can appropriately assign which of our developers fits your criteria to lend support in building your project.

Are you ready to start your development project?

We have the developers you need to take your development project in the right direction.
Companies are proven to grow their business faster with Trio.

What Is iOS?

iOS is a mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. It exists as part of a larger ecosystem of operating systems such as macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. iOS is exclusive to the iPhone and iPad hardware.

Related reading: App Clips Development: The Complete Guide To Getting Started

What Is an iOS developer?

An iOS developer is a developer that is able to build native iOS applications using Apple’s proprietary IDE XCode as well as leveraging the power of programming languages like Swift and/or Objective-C.

Swift is the primary programming language that is supported by Apple for developing iOS applications. It’s predecessor Objective-C is currently on it’s way out, however, it’s still used to maintain legacy systems both within Apple’s codebases as well as other companies who have yet to re-write their applications using Swift.

In today’s world, iOS developers are expected to know Swift as well as have a comprehensive understanding of Apple’s iOS frameworks. In a sense, they can be considered full-stack developers because they will be responsible for designing both the front-end and back-end of a mobile application.

Only rarely, such as the case for large teams and agencies, will you see front-end and back-end roles be separated.

There is little to be known outside of Apple’s technology ecosystem when it comes to iOS development, save for when dealing with databases.

Apple does not support cloud databases and therefore a developer will have knowledge in one or more, such as Google’s Firebase.

Popular Mobile App Databases

There are many databases to choose from when building a mobile app. Here are some popular databases to build iPhone apps. You can select the best database for your mobile app based on your requirements.

  • MySQL: An open-source, multi-threaded, and easy to use SQL database. Perhaps one of the older database options around.
  • PostgreSQL: A powerful, open-source object-based, relational-database that is highly customizable. This is a popular option to use for web applications as well and can integrate well for iOS.
  • Redis: An open-source, low maintenance, key/value store that is used for data caching in mobile applications. It’s a more simplistic option that eliminates the need to access data with SQL.
  • MongoDB: A schemaless, JSON document database which is known for its flexibility and scalability. This is another popular option among many web applications.
  • Memcached: A general-purpose distributed memory caching system that has multi-threaded capabilities. It’s used primarily for caching objects to speed up applications by alleviating database load.
  • MariaDB: A popular open-source relational database that was created by the original developers of MySQL. Apparently it’s capable of completing INSERT statements up to 24% faster than MySQL thanks to its index/cache system.
  • Cassandra: A free and open-source, NoSQL database which is designed to handle a large amount of unstructured data across many different servers. It boasts high availability with no single point of failure.
  • SQLite: Embedded database, common usage is to provide local data storage capabilities on mobile phones. For many web and mobile applications, this is a default option that works best for smaller-scale projects without too much complexity.
  • InfluxDB: An open-source, time-series database. Influx is written in Golang which makes it extremely fast thanks to Go’s low-level nature.
  • RethinkDB: An open-source, document-oriented database that stores data in JSON format. RethinkDB is capable of syncing in real-time with applications.
  • Riak DB: A distributed NoSQL database that offers high availability, fault tolerance, and data resiliency. It’s also open-source with enterprise and cloud versions.
  • CouchDB: A document-oriented NoSQL database, CouchDB uses JSON to store data. JavaScript is also its main query language.
  • Couchbase: A NoSQL document-oriented database that is able to serve concurrent users.
  • ArangoDB: An open-source, NoSQL database that supports three database models. It only uses one database at its core along with AQL query language.

Why Build Your App on iOS?

Powering a large portion of the western world’s mobile experience, Apple’s iOS is the second-largest mobile operating system in the world in terms of users.

iOS has proven to be home to a very lucrative market of consumers. In fact, it’s shown that iOS users spend twice as much on in-app purchases as Android users.

It makes sense to build your app to take advantage of this profitable mobile ecosystem, but it’s also an excellent candidate due to how versatile it is with a wide range of devices it supports. iOS is available on iPhone and iPad devices, allowing apps to be accessed on both phones and tablets.

The iOS platform offers Apple’s App Store to connect mobile users with your app through search functions, categories and promotional content from Apple such as “Editors Choice” awards.

If you create a quality app that has real demand and takes the effort to distribute it and market it in the App Store, it’s fair to say you are on your way to getting customers using your app.

Apple goes out of its way to make In-App purchases seamless in its App Store ecosystem, allowing users to purchase in-app content at the push of a button.

All of this combines together to create a mobile ecosystem that facilitates distributing and monetizing your mobile app, making iOS a great choice for a development platform. 

Advantages of Using iOS

Performance

Building a native app will unlock more performance than using cross-platform solutions such as React Native and Xamarin. This is due to the fact that when you are a developer natively, you are using Apple’s SDK which is the official SDK for accessing the various APIs that Apple has.

Security

Developing on Apple’s platforms has implicit security benefits thanks to Apple’s in-built shield against viruses and other external threats.

iOS Alternatives & Comparisons

Android

Not exactly an alternative, but more so another channel, Android accounts for the rest of the world’s smartphone population. To make an iPhone app with no Android app is essentially turning your back on a percentage of the market. If your strategy can afford to neglect the Android market, then iOS is likely the better option in the western world.

React Native

React Native is a cross-platform framework that uses the React library in order to create mobile applications that work both on Android and iOS.

For many startups, this can be a wise choice to create a unified JavaScript-based application. However, this only makes sense if the application is not very complex or novel.

React Native does come with some limitations as iOS and Android have many frameworks, some of which are very specialized and access hardware. 

React Native is still dependent on native languages such as Java and Objective C and therefore your code might not be 100% JavaScript, but a combination of both JavaScript and native languages.

Another issue is that native language is much faster than JavaScript, so if your app isn’t doing any CPU intensive processes, then React Native can be a good option. If you are looking to manage your CPU footprint, then React Native just isn’t cut out for the job.

Finally, there is no guarantee that React Native will be around in the future as there is no long-term commitment to the framework.

React Native still enjoys constant updates and while this might seem like a good thing, it creates more work for a developer to do as they will have to constantly go back and update their codebase to function properly. Native development, on the other hand, is more mature.

Companies Who Use iOS

  • Twitter
  • Netflix
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Kayak
  • Slack
  • Hopper
  • Duolingo
  • Spotify
  • Amazon
  • LinkedIn
  • Youtube
  • Google
  • Quora

Hire an iOS Developer

Finding a good iOS developer is slightly more difficult than finding a web developer as most products tend to need JavaScript for at least the front-end of their applications, making JavaScript extremely popular. This makes iOS a specialization for those who truly love the Apple ecosystem and believe in the power that native applications bring to the table.

Furthermore, Apple has many frameworks that the developer must become proficient at in order to make decent applications on top of learning how to deal with layouts both visually and programmatically.

This isn’t to say that the search is hard, there are still many iOS developers around looking for work. However, finding a good developer is not as easy as it seems. If you’re having trouble with finding an iOS developer, Trio has a great resource that goes into detail about how to hire remote developers.

How to Hire iOS developers

Hiring a developer on your own time isn’t easy to do. In addition to a guide, you have an array of options to consider to simplify the process. For example, by using Trio hiring costs and any time wasted looking for developers.

There are certain tools and coding paradigms every iOS developer should be aware of and you should be aware of how to recognize the developers that have those skills.

What to look for in an iOS developer

At a high level, iOS developers should be able to:

  • Work with Swift
  • High-level proficiency in the basic iOS frameworks
  • Experience with using AutoLayout
  • Experience with programmatic user interface design
  • Is learning SwiftUI to provide an alternative to using UIKIT
  • Can set up a database and interact with its APIs
  • Is competent and unafraid of testing driven development
  • Has knowledge of MVC design pattern
  • Is capable of writing clean code
  • Is able to learn new technologies and read iOS documentation to build out new functionality and features

Top interview questions to hire iOS developers

  • What is the difference between synchronous & asynchronous tasks?
  • Explain the delegate pattern?
  • What problems does delegation solve?
  • How to prioritize usability in Design?
  • What’s the difference between the frame and the bounds?
  • Explain the difference between MVC and MVVM design patterns?
  • What is concurrency?
  • What is the difference between non-escaping and escaping closures?
  • Explain the difference between SceneDelegate and AppDelegate?
  • Explain the final keyword into the class?
  • When do you use optional chaining vs. if let or guard?

How Much Do iOS Developers Cost in the U.S?

In the United States, an iOS developer will make as little as $73,500 per year and as much as $178,800. These numbers are sourced from ZipRecrutier using an algorithm based on millions of data points. ZipRecruiter also reports that iOS developers make an average of $133,772 per year.

Here’s a chart that shows the salary ranges within the United States for a Senior iOS Developer.

Bar chart showing the salary range for Senior iOS Developers in the United States in March 2020, with a national average of 3,772, and a spectrum from ,500 to 8,800, topped with the Trio logo.

How much do iOS Developers cost in South America?

South American developers at a high level tend to be paid around $100,000 annually. Mid-level developers in South America get paid roughly $76,000.

How much do iOS Developers cost in Ukraine / Eastern Europe?

Countries in Eastern Europe have similar salaries when it comes to software developers. Data shows that a Senior iOS developer costs around $100,000 on average.

Hourly Rates for iOS Developers

You can also think of developer costs in terms of hourly wages. For developers that will only work on your project on a short-term basis until completion, it may be more reasonable to work out an hourly rate rather than pay a full-time salary.

This table should give you a good idea on hourly rates corresponding to the region and level of experience of your potential hires.

Table displaying hourly rates for various software development roles across different regions, including Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the United States, with the Trio logo in the upper right corner. Rates range from  for a Junior Developer in Asia to  for a Software Architect in the United States.

Why Hire an iOS Developer?

Trio iOS developers are hired using a multi-phase process that ensures that not only are they a good fit culturally, but they can actually code as well. They’re not just picked up from the latest freelancer site. They are screened and interviewed with an intense focus on problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Once hired, Trio works to further develop these skills so they can be a valuable asset to your company. And our goal is that each and every Trio iOS developer goes above and beyond your expectations.

For you, this means you can spend less time working on hiring developers and more time actually developing. Another bonus is that you’ll save the cost of hiring which can amount to as much as $4,129.

Working with Trio will give you the benefit of having highly qualified developers on your team without exhausting your resources to do it. Interested? Let Trio know a bit more about your project and we can figure out how to help.

Maintaining iOS Apps

If only having an iOS app was as simple as publishing it to the App Store and letting your profits roll in, sadly most of us know that isn’t the case.

Building a mobile-based business requires maintenance and consistent development in order to stay relevant. Whether you are looking to have bugs fixed, optimize performance, or push feature updates in order to stay ahead of the competition, maintaining your iOS app is a constant process.

The fact of the matter is, you have to maintain the support of your app to adapt to new versions of iOS and ensure old versions still work.

The resources this requires add up – in fact, initial development of an app-only makes up 35% of the cost of having a mobile app.

Constant improvements are something that consumers come to expect, it’s vital that you ensure your iOS app doesn’t remain stagnant.

Tracking performance, and measuring what features align with the priorities of your customer’s needs allow you to craft a development roadmap that yields the most success.

Balancing user expectations with your ability to meet them through a refined app is key here, it’s a large undertaking that is necessary to build a profitable mobile app that delivers real value to your customers.

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Subscribe to learn more about Hiring

By clicking “Subscribe” you agree to Trio Privacy Policy and consent to Trio using your contact data for newsletter purposes

Stop Waiting, Start Developing

Now that we’ve covered the general landscape of developing for iOS, why not get your project started with the help of Trio? Utilize our team of full-time iOS, developers to take care of your mobile app needs.

By keeping our staff full-time, we can have developers ready for your project in days, not months.

With portfolios that cover all aspects of developing for iOS, our developers can help you build and launch your app, provide performance audits, build features, or lend a hand to your development team.

It’s worth getting the conversation started today. We can help you build an iOS app your users love. 

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With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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