It’s cooking out there. Developers all over the world are making apps. Of course the good’ol Shareware model is still used, but today there are so many options available. Just to mention the four biggest app markets I know of Google Apps Marketplace, Android Market, App Store for iOS and App Store for Mac. It’s not always easy to make everything right, for sure, as I have written about before. But for me … I take some little pride in most of my mistakes. I feel a bit like Thomas Edison every time:
I sometimes tease my non-programming friends with that it looks like coders will be the next ruling class. The threshold for putting together an app and getting it up on one of those markets is really low. Google hosts App Engine for you where you can put up web apps or backends to your Mac or iOS apps, for free! For freaking free! (No wonder I love Google.) Only if your app is a success will you reach a level of usage that starts to cost any. And many apps don’t even need a backend.
So what about you poor people who don’t code? My advice: learn it. It’s not that hard. Really, it isn’t. Today I had an e-mail conversation with a user of Mini Collector, Jeff Carter. Jeff helped me test that I had really nailed some Game Center related bugs, and I noticed he seemed to be used to beta testing apps. It turned out he’s a games beta tester. And then he mentioned he had gotten so curious about game and app making that he had made an App Store game himself! I asked him if it was tricky making a Game (something I have balked a bit at) and it’s such a lovely story that I must share it. Using Jeff’s own words:
… I started mid-January knowing practically nothing and the game was out by mid-February. Took about 2-3 weeks and a week of review. I basically am self-taught from youtube videos, online tutorials , and some open-sourced stuff to look at. I didn’t use any kind of game-engine like cocos2d or gamesalad or anything. So it is definitely not out of reach for you :)
Did you read that, people? It took him a month starting from zero, learning to code well enough, learning enough of XCode, learning enough Objective C, learning enough of the iOS SDK, learning enough about App Store management and doing the actual work, until he had a game (Button Trial Challenges) up on the App Store! Granted, it’s a quite simple game, but that’s the trick when learning something new. Start simple and keep it simple. Get your first app out there and then you can start figuring on the next, more sophisticated contribution.
Yes, even if it’s simple, think of something that can make it special. In Jeff’s case that special thing is Game Center connectivity. He’s an achievements/highscore nerd (yes, they exist). Which is why Button Trial Challenges sports 100 achievments (the Game Center maximum). Giving your app something special, something from you, will help you focus and give you energy for when you get stuck. Because you will get stuck now and then. That’s how coding is.
App making takes a bit more than just coding. There’s also design, artwork, marketing, copy writing and lots of other things involved. As is evident from both mine and Jeff’s apps, we’re not really designers. (Sometimes you can get away with the minimum when it comes to design.) But we do what we can and use Twitter, Facebook, blogs and what-have-you for marketing and such.
Skilled designers, marketing wizards, word smiths and so on of course can help in making apps. But as long as they can’t code, they can’t make an app happen without a coder. The coder is the king in this new world. Learn to code and get out there and make an app!