Today, we feature a guest post by Sergey Grischyov, a developer from Russia. We don’t hear much about the app development scene there so Sergey is here to tell us about what it’s like to start up his own independent app development studio in one of the fastest growing iOS markets in the world.
Without any programming experience at all, and while studying a full-time degree, he managed to launch 3 apps on the App Store within the span of a year. That’s amazing. Doesn’t it remind you of this guy?
These mobile app overachievers sure are something else. So anyway, without any further ado, we’ll let Sergey take it away.
My name is Sergey and I’m from Russia. Here, when I tell people what I do, 70% of them ask me what ‘apps’ actually are. In Russia, many people are still unfamiliar with the growing worldwide trend of ‘apps’ for mobile devices. Nonetheless, according to Flurry analytics, Russia is one of the fastest growing iOS markets by the number of active devices. It has experienced a 189% growth in a period from June 2011 to July 2012.
I am a 5th year student at the Saint-Petersburg State University and I study languages. Not programming languages but the ones people speak (English and Spanish to be exact). If you talked to me a year ago about developing iOS apps I wouldn’t be interested at all. Today, having launched 3 apps on the App Store and running my own studio, I’m truly fascinated about developing apps for this platform.
In this post I’d like to talk about iOS development for those of you who never had any experience in programming before.
If you were like me and are currently unfamiliar with any existing programming language, you know exactly how this feels. When I started iOS development I was truly shocked when I first saw code written in the Objective-C programming language. I didn’t understand anything. And yet, this fascinated me a lot. This was a mystery worth uncovering, a problem worth solving.
I won’t recommend any tutorials on how to start iOS development – there are literally thousands of them on the Web. But I can and will share my experience about starting iOS development from scratch.
The first lesson I learned is rather simple:
If you really want to develop a great app you have to be ready to face extreme difficulties. I assume that all of us have different capabilities, but when you’re starting iOS development from scratch it seems… well, pretty hopeless.
There will be people out there who will tell you that Objective-C isn’t the best programming language for newbies, that developing iOS apps is complex and that you can’t do it without any programming experience. Unfortunately, all those thing are true. But if you really want to be an iOS developer and start making money, this shouldn’t stop you. Don’t be afraid of anything at all. You will find out that iOS development is pure pleasure even if you don’t know what you’re doing.
It took me 6 months of reading to understand core principles of Objective-C. Sometimes I was ready to stop studying and forget about it forever. But I was always thinking about why I started it all and where I was moving towards and this helped me stay on track (an idea for our app, Motivational Wallpapers was born at that time).
The second lesson I learned while starting iOS development is this one:
Try To Do Everything On Your Own.
I support this rather unpleasant approach – you have to learn it the hard way. Don’t try to look for help. Rather, concentrate on the problem at hand and try to solve it yourself. To me, programming is all about problem solving. And in many cases there are dozens of ways to solve one problem. So my advice is that you really try hard before seeking for help.
After developing your first-ever app, think about whether you really need to put it on the App Store. With thousands of apps available already, apps that are unique are still gems but they require an enormous amount of time and resources to be put into before they ever succeed on the App Store.
Your First App Idea
The idea for your first app doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t even need to be reasonable. In my opinion, the first app you launch on the App Store is both important and unimportant. It’s important for you in the way that allows you to see how the whole system works. It allows you to get into the system of distribution certificates and App Store review process. It doesn’t have to be a killer app. Practice makes perfect.
After you’ve successfully released your ‘test app’ (remember that Apple forbids putting incomplete apps, or test/beta version of the app to the App Store, so don’t tell anyone it’s your test app) you can start doing some real things. Here are my own App Store principles that I’ve learned the hard way.
Apple May Reject Your App
We got every one of our apps rejected at least once. And my, is it disappointing! LiveLonger, our first app, took 2 months of review process to be published on the App Store! Those 2 months were a real nightmare to me.
Make Your App As Close To Perfect As Possible
For Apple not to reject your app you have to try to make it as close to perfect as possible. You should spend hours of your time testing it on real devices. You should look for bugs. Give it to real people. Think how they react to the interface of the app and its general idea. Are they interested? Thrilled? Puzzled? I even suggest you write down everything they tell you and analyze it afterwards. You should behave like a scientist if you want to make a successful app.
In Russia, it’s really hard to find venture capitalists or anyone who is ready to invest in a business like ours. So we’ve never had a huge advertising budget. Rather, we use our friends, and friends of friends to advertise our apps. It delivered moderate results so we are up to launching several advertising campaigns on Russian websites. The App Store is so huge that even a great app without advertising may be lost (especially if it’s not a game).
Put Your Soul Into Your Projects
ShadeApps, the studio I founded is all about my approach to life. We try to create meaningful apps in a world where everything has lost meaning. We try really hard to bring apps that we think would help people, the apps that we ourselves need.
These are some of the apps we’ve developed.
LiveLonger, our first app is about helping people live a long life because our time on Earth is limited. We believe that by changing your lifestyle, you can add from 5 to 10 years to your life and that’s why we created such an app.
Motivational Wallpapers is about helping you get through hard moments of your life and showing you that you’re not alone in this fight. This is done by setting the right wallpaper on your iPhone’s lockscreen – the screen you look most at when you use your phone.
Our latest app, Depressed, is for people who suffer from depression or have relatives who suffer from it and want to help them. It’s packed with advice on how to overcome depression, including articles and videos and the app can even tell you if your level of depression is dangerous and you should see a doctor.
As you can see, we take developing our apps seriously. And this is the main approach towards our work – we develop meaningful apps for people who are interested in meaningful apps.
If you’re starting your own iOS developing studio think about its cornerstone. The principles you put in the center of your career are really important. I believe that everything you do should be taken seriously. As Steve Jobs said:
We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and everything we do should be excellent. Life is brief, and then you die. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.
Good luck developing iOS apps! It’s really worth it.
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