How to make an app for iPhone

A few weeks ago, I wrote that we’d now started laying down code on a prototype of our own idea for a consumer mobile app – we’d started to make an app for iPhone.  So, three weeks on how are we finding the taste of our own Kool-Aid?


Delicious!  We’ve made some huge strides, and Indy is optimistic that we’ll have a functional prototype on our iPhones by this time next week – so within about 4 weeks of him starting to lay down code, which provides a very real example of how quickly iOS apps can be built, by an experienced and talented developer.


An agile development path is an increasingly common route and, as we’re proving, works particularly well within a small team of developer and UX designer (that’s my hat at the moment!).  It saves a huge amount of time and money by removing wireframes and mock ups from the process – instead we’re sketching out some screen images with pencil and paper; discussing the flow and actions within the app, agreeing on them and then Indy’s implementing those into the prototype.

What’s really encouraging, is that it’s increasingly possible to do that, and still achieve a passable level of polish in the look and feel of the app.  This is not to say that we won’t look at adding some further graphic polish and branding to the finished product before we launch it into the App Store – indeed, we’re talking to a couple of design teams for that very purpose – rather, it’s at a high enough level that I don’t anticipate it will interfere with the results of our user testing.

This is to say, I’m hopeful that the feedback we obtain from our own experiments with the app initially together, and then as we open it up to friends via Testflight’s beta environment, will give us a good sense of whether our idea will run.

Intellectual property

Whilst Indy’s been coding, one thing I’ve been exploring is whether any part of the iPhone app, may be capable of being patented.  Naturally, I can’t go into detail at this time (pre-filing), but it looks like at least one of the app’s crucial and quite cool UX features, may be patentable.

It’s important to determine this at an early stage, as such knowledge can now impact on our testing and delay our attempts to try and secure funding.  Had we not determined this prior to starting those conversations, then those very same conversations may have then thwarted any patent application – as the examiner may have rejected the provisional filing on the basis the innovation was already in the public domain.

Such risks were familiar to me, as I’ve come into this industry with a long legal career behind me.  However, they and the multitude of details like them are less likely to be at front of people’s minds when they start out exploring how to make their own idea an app for the iPhone.

Which is why our Course offers so much value – coding is, naturally, a really important part of the process of making an app, but it’s far from the only important part and indeed, many senior developers agree that to an extent it’s the most fungible – with other factors, such as the idea, design, experience and business factors of fundraising and marketing being more significant in determining the ultimate outcome.

The other factor, is for the entrepreneur who doesn’t have a computer science degree or years of hacking experience (a natural coder), then becoming sufficiently proficient in Objectice-C is not a realistic short term goal – indeed, it’s more likely to be years, than months.

So, it makes most sense for these entrepreneurs to focus on the aspects they can learn comparatively quickly – such as thinking deeply about the user experience – and to find a talented developer to do the actual building.

Working closely with oDesk, we’ve identified a number of such talented, freelance development teams, enabling our alumni to move quickly from idea to execution.  Indeed, completing our Course takes less time than you can otherwise expect to spend searching and recruiting such talent.

You can get started on the first tutorial right now, by simply starting our Free Trial.

Nicholas Wright wrote on

Nicholas is a co-founder and CEO of AppInstruct. Nic is actively involved in the start-up space, mentoring other founders with mobile, fundraising and legal advice. Nic's favorite app is WhatsApp, which allows him to remain in contact with family in America and England.