The mobile/cellphone and tablet market is big business these days, along with the apps that add increased functionality and services to these devices. In America alone, nearly 77% of people have a smartphone, and 51% own a tablet of some kind, and estimates are that as many as 6.1 billion people worldwide may own a smartphone of some kind by 2020. There are literally millions of apps in existence already, with more being developed every day.
Given the growth of the smartphone and tablet market, it’s no surprise that many want to try their hand at creating an app – But can it be done? Can someone with little – or no – experience really build an app?
The answer is of course! Just know that if you have an idea for an app and you want to build it yourself, you’re going to have to be willing to spend some time learning and experimenting on your own.
To help you get started, here’s a list of some of the better educational resources for app developers, new and experienced.
What platform you’re going to build your app for is the first question you need to answer. For someone new to app development, we recommend not worrying too much about which might be more profitable or “popular” in terms of marketability. Instead, for your first app, focus on the platform you use yourself. You’ll already be familiar with the platform and should have at least some familiarity with its apps since you’ll have been using them on a daily basis on your own device. You can always develop your app for other platforms later once you’ve become more knowledgeable about app development.
Android App Development Resources
Official Android Resources
Android itself has excellent educational resources for developers. For beginners, Android has “Building Your First App” which walks you step by step through building a first app. You’ll also find many other useful lessons at that resource, along with articles on best practices and considerations for special situations.
Other Android Resources
Outside of Android’s official resources, there are numerous third-party resources where you can find tutorials, many of which are free.
MIT’s App Inventor has a series of beginner video tutorials for Android, and you can find educational videos at Ray Wenderlich’s website, along with an excellent step-by-step (with screenshots) that walks you through installing and setting up Android Studio. Vogella, a German tech development company, offers instruction on everything from getting started to in-depth tutorials on special topics like Android libraries and Android source code. Both Envato Tuts+ and Treehouse offer free trials, and both have Android app development courses.
There are two official Google Groups for Android development. One is the community for the Android Developer Tools, and the other is for Android Development. In particular, you’ll find the latter useful, as it’s the place to go to ask questions of other developers, find other resources; in short, it’s the place to go if you want community and support in your quest to becoming a better developer.
Apple / iOS Starter Resources
Official Apple / iOS Resources
Like Android, Apple offers beginner resources and training for developers. Its Start Developing iOS Apps (Swift) offers lessons that walk you through the development process as you build an example food-tracking app. Once you’re done, Apple also offers further education on the Swift programming language and other app development topics.
Other Apple / iOS Resources
Ray Wenderlich has a series of tutorials on both the Swift Language and on iOS development and Stanford has a complete iOS Development Course available for free on iTunes. Code School also has an iOS course, which you can try out for free before deciding to enroll.
The best community for Apple developers can be found at the official Apple Developer forums, where you can meet like-minded developers, ask questions, and receive advice.
For those who want a little more assistance in building apps and who want to jump right in, there are a number of companies that offer platforms and means of quickly creating the more common types of apps. Appmakr offers the ability to build both Android and Apple apps and has a free of charge option as well for those on a budget. LiveCode has options for multiple platforms and offers services such as code review, documentation, customized training and architecture advice. Shout’Em has both Android and Apple, with an app designer which requires no coding ability and utilizes a user-friendly drag-n-drop interface.
There’s no way we could list every available resource for app development in a single article. While the ones we offered here are far from an extensive list, they’ll help you get started on the exciting road to developing your own app!