Businesses know the importance of being in close proximity to their customers. And the closest thing to the customers today is their smartphones. Smartphones are also the means for businesses to get as close to customers as they possibly can. Mobile applications are the fastest way for businesses to increase their reach and eventually increase their sales. Androids and iOS being the major operating systems used in mobile devices, developers have to make sure that their app is compatible with both to reach a wider audience. For developers, this means that mastering app development in both these Operating Systems will tremendously be in their favor.
According to Backlinko, approximately 1 billion consumers use iPhones, iPhones also account for 65% of smartphone sales in the US. Apple Store is the second most popular and used mobile app store. The Apple Store has over 2 million applications on it. Few studies estimate that Apple has paid approximately USD 50 billion to app developers since 2008.
Therefore, it becomes imperative for developers to develop apps that function smoothly on iOS. We are listing down a few of the most used and helpful iOS development tools that you can consider using.
1. Swift (Programming Language)
First released in 2014, Swift is a powerful core programming language from Apple. Since it is relatively new when compared to other languages like C, Java, and C++, it has some very powerful advanced features. Swift is aimed to make the code easier to read and write. Some of the features of Swift are:
- Advanced control flow
- Memory-safe and type-safe language
- Automatic memory management
- Effective error handling
- Functional programming
- Supports inferred types
Going forward Swift will definitely be the language Apple will rely more upon. According to Apple, Swift is also 2.6 times faster than Objective C Therefore it is wise to learn and master it.
2. Objective-C (Programming Language)
The original language opted by Steve Jobs, Objective-C is a language that stems from the programming language C. Objective-C has a similar structure and syntax to C. This makes this language easy to learn and master for a majority of the developers who already know the language C. Some of its key features:
- General purpose, object-oriented language
- Supports encapsulation, data hiding, inheritance, abstraction, polymorphism
- Supports exception handling as well as operator overloading
3. Xcode (IDE & Editor)
Like Objective-C, Xcode was the original integrated development environment (IDE) used by Apple. Xcode, first released in 2003, is used to develop software in macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS. It provides developers with an integrated workflow for coding, testing, debugging, and user interface design. Xcode becomes necessary for developers as the mastering of it helps in cross-device development. It has some advanced features like:
- Instrument analysis tools
- Latest SDKs
- Create custom instruments to analyze code
- SwiftUI and Interface Builder
- Swift, C/C++, Objective C compilers
4. CodeRunner (IDE & Editor)
CodeRunner is helpful for developers primarily for its code compiling abilities. It can be used to create potent and advanced applications. CodeRunner supports 25 programming languages and is extremely lightweight. It has a built-in console, premier text editor, and offers customized key binding. Developers can live check errors and write efficient code without disturbing the actual app code. Some alternatives for CodeRunner that you can try are AppX, PhoneGap, Fabric, and AppCode.
5. Flawless (App Design)
Flawless lets developers perform a variety of tasks like iOS app design, analysis, comparison, and app design execution. It lets the developer generate dynamic design, capture animated screenshots, as well as check motions and animations. Flawless is embedded with Xcode which makes it a popular choice for developers. It supports Zeplin files, Quick hotkeys in addition to supporting long-screen designs. Plus, it does not require any additional setup, configuration, or third-party library linking. Other app design tools you can look into are Hyperion, Haiku, and Figma.
6. RxSwift (Libraries)
It is one of the best library resources out there. RxSwift is a framework for working with the Swift programming language and is based on reactive programming. RxSwift uses functional type operators for event-based and asynchronous code. Asynchronous programming improves the performance and responsiveness of the application. RxSwift lets code react and process data in a clean, secluded, and sequential way. It lets code run in parallel thereby increasing the functionality of the application.
7. AlamoFire (Libraries)
AlamoFire is another library that developers can use to develop iOS applications. It is an HTTP network-based library that provides an interface apart from Apple’s networking stack. It is based completely on Swift and handles web requests and responses in iOS as well as macOS. Apart from HTTP methods, it also includes JSON parameter and response serialization, network enhancement, authentication services, and many other features. Alamofire Software Foundation has added various libraries to introduce new functionalities and features, two of them are
Cocoapods, SDWebimage, and PromiseKit also provide rich libraries that you might want to consider.
8. Parse (Backend Services)
Parse is an open-source platform that offers mobile backend as a service. Preceding its shutdown, Parse was open-sourced by Facebook. It has now grown to become an open-source community having its own blog, documentation, and community forum. Parse powers developers to store data in the cloud, manage push notifications, dashboards as well as run custom code in the cloud. Parse was listed as one among the top 50 innovative companies of 2013 for speeding up the pace of software development. Some of its backend tools
- Cloud-based object and file storage
- Social media integration abilities
- Parse hosting and analytics
- Identity log-ins
- Create custom code in the backend
Another popular backend service provider, and an alternative to Parse, is Firebase which also has some great features like Real-time backend as a service, Google hosting, and model-observer database scheme.
9. RayGun (Debugging)
Raygun is a cloud-based software that reports errors, crashes and monitors the performance of web and mobile applications. RayGun supports more than 30 languages and frameworks, which makes it a tool that is cross-device and high in demand. Raygun4Apple library can be used to track Objective-C as well as Swift applications. It enables developers to receive accumulated as well as individual crash reports. Parse also has some great tools for debugging.
10. Peckham (Plugin)
One of the most practical plugins for Xcode is Peckham. Peckham makes adding and importing statements owing to an auto-complete feature. This feature lets a developer add or import statements, headers, etc, directly into the code with the help of keyboard shortcuts, like command+control+p. There are numerous Xcode plugins available today, all of them having advanced and functional features. Some of the other plugins that you can consider are Dash, Crayons, HKSnippet, Injections, and All Targets.
Evolving as an iOS App Developer:
The IT space is ever-evolving, with new technology, tools, and software being developed every now and then. Therefore it becomes crucial to keep up with these developments. For iOS developers, being skillful in multiple languages and tools is key to enhancing their careers. The scope for developers has been growing for the past decade. Since Apple accounts for a substantial share of the smartphones sold and used, iOS developers have also seen a significant rise in demand, scope, and pay scale. Employers prefer developers who are well versed with Swift, cross-device development, and a variety of tools. Learning to create an interactive interface with Interface Builder, using a versioning system for code, and being acquainted with important frameworks is equally important.
The above-mentioned tools are some of the best tools available, they are in no way exhaustive. There are many powerful development tools that you can learn and master to develop smooth, dynamic, and reactive iOS apps. The best way to start is by learning the tools and programming language used by Apple. This way you will get a better understanding of how the development of apps on iOS differs from apps on Android OS. It will also help you to move on to other development tools since you will already have a solid base to work on!