How to Program an App: Making an App for Android or iOS


Learning how to code an app is simple. All you need is an idea and the right tools. Coding an app involves having an idea, designing the app, testing it, and releasing it. It can be done in any number of ways, depending on your platform and skillset.

Though the process of coding an app is straightforward, you will need to have fundamental programming skills and understand several core concepts of mobile application development. To learn more about how to program an app, read through our guide as we detail the length, cost, and required skills of the app development process.

How to Code an App for Beginners

There’s never been a better time to design an app. Today, over 3 billion people use smartphones. You have an enormous market for your app once it hits Google Play and the App Store. It’s not an easy process, but it’s certainly possible to learn how to code an app for beginners.

In this article, we’ll go over the basics of building iOS and Android apps. We’ll also provide some useful tips to help bring your app idea into reality. It will provide tips on how to code an app for beginners.

If you don’t know how to code, don’t worry. Career Karma sets users up with fast coding education programs that will teach you everything you need to know. While it’s possible to learn on your own, attending a coding bootcamp will give you access to trained instructors and set you up for a tech career.

App development is a satisfying and potentially lucrative skill, and we’ll help you get started on the right track. This guide on app development for beginners will help you get started on the right track. Discover more about coding Android and iOS applications below.

Image of Google apps on an iPhone screen.
Learning how to code an app can help you build in-demand technical skills!

The Basics of Mobile App Development

Before we get into the basics of app development and provide a step-by-step guide for creating an app, we need to set the stage for the app development process. Like most other kinds of software development, building an app requires that you know how to code. There are a couple of different ways you can approach this.

Arguably the best place to start is deciding which platform you want to work on, with the two major options being Android and iOS. This matters because where your app will run will determine the programming language and environment you’ll be working in.

There are other fundamentals that you should familiarize yourself with before you set sail on your journey to coding your first app. Learn more about the basic steps of mobile app development for beginners below.

  • Master a Coding Language. There is a wide range of coding languages out there. However, many of them have different core purposes. App developers typically have coding skills in languages like Swift, Java, C++, and HTML5.
  • Get Familiar With App Development Tools and Environment. Even professional developers rely on specialized tools to supplement their app development skills. Get familiar with tools such as Android Studio, React Native, BuildFire, and more. 
  • Design For Functionality. When creating your first app, you may want to focus more on functionality than aesthetics. App design is a learning process, so test out different things to see what works best. 
  • Write Solid Code. One of the most essential parts of the app development journey is to make sure that the source code is free of errors. You can also use a mobile code editor to assist you with this step. 
  • Test Your App and Make Improvements. You can now bring your app to life and test its functionality. You may want to gather actual user feedback within the app so you can learn about any glitches.

How Long Does it Take to Make an App?

Making an app takes anywhere from one to 12 months. However, there are many factors that determine how long it takes to code an app. Primarily, the timeline of developing an app is influenced by the app’s complexity. A simple app can be designed, programmed, and ready to launch in a matter of weeks. However, a more sophisticated app will require much more time and planning.

How to Code Applications for iOS

The iOS logo in black text on a white background.
You can learn how to code an app for iOS devices by completing simple app projects.

Apple products, such as iPhone and iPad, use an operating system called iOS. Developers usually build apps for this platform using a coding language called Objective-C, which is one of many C variants. Apple chose this language as their primary code, so it’s essential to master it if you want to learn how to code an iOS app.

You’ll likely need to use some other coding languages when learning how to build an iOS app, such as:

  • Swift
  • HTML5
  • C#
  • C++
  • Java

In addition, Python is another popular language and is renowned for being easy to learn. It’s a common tool for building modules, libraries, and backend tasks like storing data for the iOS platform.

How and when you use each of these languages depends on what you intend to do with your app. Many of these languages are used for Android development too. You can research them yourself online or ask your coding instructor for more information. For learning how to develop iOS apps, we think it’s best to start with Objective-C or Swift.

iOS Coding Languages

In this section, we will discuss five programming languages that are essential for learning how to code an app for Apple devices. These languages will help you bring your ideas to life and get your creation into the App Store.

Programming Language Who Uses Swift? Learning Difficulty
Swift Apple, LinkedIn, Uber Easy
HTML5 Google, YouTube, Amazon Moderate
C# Accenture, Microsoft, Trustpilot Easy
C++ Adobe, Evernote, Meta Hard
Java Airbnb, Netflix, Spotify Easy

How to Code Applications for Android

An image of the Android logo.
With a foundation in programming, you can learn to code an app for Android devices.

When learning how to code an app for Android devices, the first thing you should know is that the official language of Android is Java. As an old and established object oriented language, Java is stable and has a vast community of users you can turn to for advice. Plus, one of the most popular software tools for building Android apps, Android Studio, uses Java.

Additionally, many developers choose to code their apps with C and C++. The technical requirements of your app will dictate which languages you choose to work with.

Thankfully, there you can choose from many different languages when learning how to write an app for Android devices and the Google Play Store. Android app development is flexible, and you can also code with other languages like:

  • Python
  • Kotlin
  • Lua

There are a lot of language options for Android development. While you’re not limited or required to use the extra languages, you can do so at your discretion. Favored coding languages shift constantly, so it’s best to do your research regularly.

Android Coding Languages

As mentioned above, you can choose from a wide range of programming languages when learning how to code an app for Android. Depending on the list of functions you want within your app, one language may be better than another.

In addition, the language you choose to work with will likely be influenced by your level of coding skills. Learn more about several languages that professional app developers use for the Android system below.

Programming Language Who Uses Swift? Learning Difficulty
Python Google, IBM, PayPal Easy
Kotlin Pinterest, Coursera, Uber Easy
Lua Amazon, Mastercard, TikTok Easy

Other Useful Tools for Learning How to Code an App

Apart from the above considerations, there are many useful tools for app programming, especially for beginners. In fact, some app building software requires no coding knowledge. Some helpful app creation tools when learning how to program an app include:

Appmakr

Appmakr is one of the most popular platforms for creating a content-based application. Most of Appmakr’s services are free, and it simplifies the process of creating an app for users with little to no prior coding experience.

This app creation tool can be used for designing apps for the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. In addition, it acts as a drag-and-drop visual designer and offers affordable monthly subscription plans.

AppyPie

AppyPie is another great platform for users with no coding knowledge. Though it offers app-building software that requires no coding skills, it still lets users work on complex projects. With a premium subscription, AppyPie can be used to create apps for both Android and iOS.

ImageX

ImageX is a command-line tool that enables capturing an entire hard drive as a Windows Imaging Format file.

Intellij

Intellij is a platform-independent IDE specifically tailored for writing Java. It offers courses that provide beginners with practical experience and a solid foundation in their chosen coding language. This program is offered for free and offers real-time feedback on sections of code.

Flutter

Flutter is Google’s toolkit for building native apps for Android, the web, or desktop with only one codebase. It is an open-source app creation tool that provides numerous learning resources. Beginners can learn to use Flutter through instructional videos, codelabs, manuals, and more.

Xamarin

This is Microsoft’s cross-platform development platform which extends the older .NET platform. This makes it easy to build an app for a variety of mobile environments. In addition, this is a free, open-source app creation tool that allows users to work on coding apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and more.

App Design

Another important consideration is the design. User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design are critical elements to the quality, usability, and, ultimately, the marketability of an app. No one wants to use an app that isn’t user-friendly.

While it’s possible to learn coding, graphic design, and UX design to build an app, you may want to consider hiring a dedicated UX/UI designer. You can hire a UX/UI designer either as a part of a company or as a freelancer.

How to Program an App: Step-by-Step

Now that we have a background on the tools and languages you will need, we can start discussing the steps for how to program an app. While there is not a specific procedure for how to program mobile apps, the following is a good template if you’re working on your own:

  1. Find a good idea
  2. Create a soft design
  3. Create a prototype
  4. Create a hard design
  5. Build your app
  6. Go through user testing
  7. Publish and begin marketing

Find a Good Idea

There’s a good chance that if you’re already reading this article, you have some idea for an app. However, it’s important to start with an idea that will turn into a successful product.

The most successful products solve a problem, so ask yourself, “what problem will my app solve?” The problem you solve could be as simple as boredom and as complex as helping determine aerodynamic engineering solutions. Just make sure there is a need for what you’re producing with a bit of market research.

Understanding Your Market

You may be very excited about your idea, but it is important to take a deep breath and think about how it will fare in a competitive market. Conducting market research to assess the demand for your app idea is a crucial part of developing a successful application.

App Monetization

More likely than not, you will want your app to generate revenue. However, there are multiple ways to do this. Take time to explore different options and decide if you want to feature ads on your app, offer subscription plans, or list it for a certain price in the app store. You will also need to do research on what an appropriate price is for your specific app.

Choose Your App Name

Naming your app is something that can take more time than you may realize. To get started, think about what you want users to feel or imagine when they hear the name. Do you want the name to make the app self-explanatory, or do you want it to be more creative?

Select a Color Scheme

Establishing a cohesive color scheme that you can stick to will make the design process easier later on. Further, it will help your app appear more polished and professional. Different color schemes illicit varying feelings within users. As such, make sure you choose a color scheme that appropriately reflects how you want your users to feel.

Soft Design

When learning how to program an app, many people get carried away with elaborate designs and quickly lose focus of their app’s purpose. To begin, come up with how your app will solve a problem. Think broadly: what features will your app have, and what tools will be needed to implement these features? What devices will it function on?

This is the time to determine the platforms, programming languages, and framework (if any) that will best suit your project. Remember to stay focused on your app’s purpose. This will make starting with a blank project more manageable.

Create a Prototype

Build an app that’s the absolute bare minimum version of your final design. Don’t worry about UI, UX, or non-essential features. When learning how to program mobile apps, you will want to work in small stages.

Your prototype should be a simple and clean proof of concept; it should show that the main, bare-bones concept of your app will work. This will be the kernel that you build your fully featured app on and you introduce more advanced concepts.

Hard Design

Now that you know your app will work, this is the time to determine exactly how your app will look. Consider what features it will or will not have and how it will look and feel like to use. Write out your plan for development and determine what order every remaining part of the app should be built.

This is the time to design or hire out the design for the UX and UI of your app. Think about your own knowledge of resources for app building. If you have basic knowledge of how to program applications, you may have to hire an expert to flush out the advanced features or look for app creation tools that can help you.

Build Your App

While this is often the longest step, it’s the easiest to explain. Simply follow the plan you’ve made. You will likely encounter roadblocks and unexpected bugs, so feel free to modify your plan as you create your app. Learning how to program an app also entails trial and error, so be patient with yourself during this stage.

User Testing

Once you have a finished version 1.0, it’s time to put your app in someone else’s hands. Ask for honest criticism, and consider that criticism humbly. If needed, make changes to your app and try again until you have a product that users enjoy, and that you’re proud of.

You can ask your family and friends to test your app or release a beta version and generate general user feedback. After working so hard on creating your app, it may be hard to accept criticism. However, your app needs to be user-friendly for a diverse audience to succeed, so it is important to take input from a variety of people.

Publishing and Marketing

No one can buy and use your app if no one can find it or has never heard of it. Publish your app to the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and any other marketplace for apps. Put together a marketing strategy that works for your product and your budget. After all, knowing how to program mobile apps is useless if you are not able to get the word out and attract users.

Learn How to Code an App By Doing

Learning how to create your own code can be daunting for beginners, but going at it alone is unnecessary. Platforms like AppMakr, AppyPie, and many more are a great way to simplify the app development process for even the most inexperienced users.

What’s more, you can join a community of aspiring developers, like the one Career Karma offers. They’ll help set you up with the right coding classes. Get started today by downloading our free app.

How to Code an App FAQ

How much does it cost to code an app?

Coding an app can be free, or it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. When considering how much it costs to program an app, it entirely depends on what features you want in your app. You can create a basic app with the help of open-source app creation tools for no cost at all. Alternatively, the average app costs around $100,000 to develop.

How do you build an app without any coding?

You can build an app without any coding by using popular app creation tools. There is a variety of app-building software that requires no coding available, such as Appmakr.

Can you build an app for free?

Yes, you can build an app for free using open-source app creation tools. If you want to learn how to code an app for free, you can start with tools such as Flutter from Google and Xamarin from Microsoft.

How hard is it to code an app?

Coding an app is somewhat difficult. However, there is a multitude of tools and resources out there to help beginners learn how to code an app. From online tutorials to app-building software, anyone can learn how to program applications today.

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