Have you ever had an idea for an app and thought to yourself, I wish something like this existed? Perhaps you’ve seen an app on the store and you liked the idea a lot but you just didn’t like the interface. Or maybe you just want to make some money through passive income. Well, let’s see how you can use all of this to join the mobile app market.
- The idea
- If you can think it, there's an app for it
- The making of the app
- What platform to choose?
This is pretty much the hardest part. The rest can be figured out easily. Your idea is the key to create an app. The best ideas come from needs.
Maybe you have a busy life full of travel and need a good scheduling app that will also automatically scan the place you are at, for affordable stays. Or you are looking for interesting places in your area to explore with random strangers and find friend this way. Both of these examples are your needs or wants. Both can be solved by an app.
Look around you. Ask people what they are missing. Find out how to make an app that would help someone.
If you can think it, there’s an app for it
It’s true that today’s world is over-saturated with apps. It gets into such degree that apps that help you organize your apps became a pretty popular thing. Don’t worry though, this is not a problem. Just because you’ve got an idea for an app and later found out it already exists, it doesn’t mean you should trash that idea and find a different one.
If you really like your idea, scan the market. If you find an app very similar to yours, look what it does. Is it user friendly? Does it have good support? When is the last time it got an update? What features are missing? Ask questions. Look at the app with a critical eye. Most importantly, go through reviews and see what people dislike about the app. Write all of this down and then, proceed to the next step.
Just a quick word. Some people make living by going through app stores, looking for apps that could do with an upgrade and then hire people for them to build the said app, but better.
The making of the app
Now that you have your idea, original or not (it doesn’t really matter), it is time to make the app. You can either invest your time into its development, or your money. If you don’t have any programming skills, your only choice is the latter.
But don’t worry, even experienced programmers outsource their app ideas to other developers, as it’s faster and easier for them.
If you have money to spend, look for freelance app developers on sites like Fiverr, freelancer.com, Upwork or PeoplePerHour. Just put down your requirements (be reasonable) and post your listing or look for already established developers and see how much they charge.
Usually, the prices would be around $100 but it can be way more or less. It depends on how much stuff you want your app to have. Now, before you hire someone, you want to decide another important thing.
What platform to choose?
You want to go with either Android or iOS as both own a massive part of the market. Making apps for other platforms might be a good idea if you know what they lack, but since these platforms seem to be unstable (like Windows Phone) with their market value, I’d go to the big two.
What will you need?
This depends on what platform you’ll pick. Let’s start with the easier one.
For Android, you don’t need much. Just your regular PC with Android Studio installed and then paying a small one-time entry fee to be able to publish on Google Play store, which is $25 by the time of this article. Then, getting your app to the store is pretty easy as long as it’s following the basic guidelines. Honestly, they are not that hard to follow.
Due to how easy it is to become an Android Developer, pretty much everyone can become one. This has its pros and cons.
Pros and Cons
The pros are the entire process of getting your app online is fairly easy and straightforward. So is the maintenance and updating of the app.
The con is that Google Play store is filled with trashy apps that will make yours hard to find. Even though you’ll save money and time going for Google Play Store, you’ll eventually find out, you’ll need good marketing or paid promotion to be successful. One con is also the fact there are many, many android devices with their own version of Android, so your app might not work on every single one.
If you are going with Android, the best strategy to make money is to make your app free and then add either advertisement in it (look into interactive or video ads) or have a premium function inside that can be purchase by paying a small fee. If you’ve made a game, in-game micro-transactions are also a great way to make money as invested players will often buy ways to speed up their progress.
iOS platform has a pretty harsh start. To develop for iOS, you need a system with macOS, so pretty much any apple PC that can run their development program, the IDE called XCode. If you don’t really have any apple products and think of going to iOS market for its potential, it’s probably time to invest as otherwise, this will be hell to go through.
To become the official iOS developer, you’ll also need to pay $99 annually by the time of writing this article. This fee gets even larger if you’d want to go for the Enterprise package, but more often than not, you don’t.
When you have your account and app ready, make sure your app follows the strict guidelines for iOS apps. They are pretty much similar to google one’s but Apple make sure they are enforced. As you will be uploading the application, you’ll need to upload screenshots for all devices like iPads, iPhones of different sizes or AppleTV if your app is compatible with it. If your app interacts with a physical device, you’ll need to do way more. You’ll have to provide a video of you using the app on your phone, interacting with the device and showing it works. You also provide a description and then wait until someone from Apple tests your app before you can finally put it on the store.
Phew. I know, this sounds scary, but once you get through, you get your app to the App Store. Once there, you have way higher chance to be discovered than on Google Play store as Apple has a system to feature new apps.
People in App Store are also used to pay for apps, which means you can put an upfront price on yours and make money right away. Otherwise, the same monetization strategies apply as with Google play. Although I would not recommend including ads if your app has an upfront cost. Once again, if you have a game, consider microtransactions for things like rare items, skins or other was to speed up progress. A lot of players would rather spend money than time in your game.
So, just to summarize
- Easy to develop for
- One-time entry fee of $25
- Not as strict with its policy
- Easy to upload to the store
- Giant competition
- Easy to get buried in the Play Store under tons of other apps
- Need of much better marketing or ads payment
- Bit harder to monetize
- Needs higher maintenance due to many different Android systems
- Easier to monetize
- Less competition
- Daily features making your marketing not as expensive
- Thanks to Apple keeping one OS on all devices, your development and app function will be much more stable
- More expensive entry fee
- Harder and more rigid submission system
- Can be harder and more expensive to develop for if you don’t already own the tools to do so
A thing worth mentioning are also hybrid apps. These apps are made in a program that is able to build the app for both platforms and many more. You pretty much work on one project and then select to which platform you’d like to export it to. This can speed up development and make it much cheaper in comparison to making a native app for each platform.
Good examples of this are Cordova, in which you basically write an app that works as a website without the address bar. Then your code gets packaged and built for both platforms. Another example can be a game engine like Unity, where you develop one game and the engine makes sure it works on both platforms the same.
Why not make every app hybrid?
If you are making a game, you have pretty much no reason not to make it hybrid, unless you’d get some rare exclusive deal. Otherwise, sometimes having a native app can be beneficial for development. Yes, with hybrid apps you get the function to both platforms, but you’ll also have to fix bugs and implement workarounds for each platform. A thing that works on iOS might not work on Android and the other way around. This should not affect you though if your app is pretty simple.
And that’s pretty much it. You can now see how to get an idea, how to select a platform and where to hire a developer. If you’ll decide to make the app on your own, good luck. It’s a time-consuming process, but it can be worth it. As always, be sure to ask for help if you need it and perhaps don’t be afraid to invest a reasonable amount of money into marketing. Nothing is more devastating than spending months on app development and then be buried under hundreds if not thousands of apps, never reaching any people.
Anyway, I hope this article was helpful. App making is a process I went through many times and a process I enjoy. If you need motivation in your life, I wrote an articles about that or perhaps if you’re looking for different ideas to make money, I should refer you to this category. In any way, if you enjoyed the article, please consider subscribing to my mailing list, you beautiful human being and have a nice and successful day!