Developing an iOS app is no longer beyond the reach of the average person. Introductory coding courses can steer you in the right direction and help you become a part of the lucrative app economy.

Since Apple launched its App Store in 2008, about 2.2 million apps have become available to download for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. That massive growth has spurred programs from Sheridan College and Lighthouse Labs to introduce the average person to the career potential of becoming an iOS Developer. Throughout the new six week course, students will be introduced to the basics of iOS development by building an app step by step using programming languages — like Swift — created for Apple’s iOS platform. This course is a the perfect way for curious new coders to learn essential coding languages and the different components required to bring their own app ideas to life.

Anthony Coelho worked in construction as a project manager and site superintendent specializing in structural engineering, but dove into iOS programming after trying to solve a particular need for his industry.

“My first iOS app was called GC Diary, and all it did was let people do their daily reports in the field on their phones. The app would create a PDF and it could then export it to email, attach photos, and more,” says Coelho. “I received so much recognition for the one app I built — I was getting calls from different districts in Ottawa and Florida, with people asking about the app and how they could get it, and giving me ideas for additional features that would be useful to them.”

Building a bridge

The fruits of Coelho’s labour received even more attention when he was approached by the architectural company at Pearson International Airport in Toronto to build an app for them based on GC Diary. 

Realizing he had “built a bridge between technology and construction,” he opted to learn more about iOS and to study the basics of how a computer thinks through a series of workshops.

“It took me about 18 months to put together a good app, but I was also working full-time on a construction site,” says Coelho. “If someone were to really focus, I bet they could build an app within six months, or even less if they were not working or studying full-time.”

Coelho forewarns that it would depend on what type of app you were building. Something used locally on one’s phone, like a photo-editing app, for example, would take less time to create than an app that works with servers and communicates data between different devices.

Learning to code

With a partner he met during his time training to become an iOS Developer through the iOS Development Bootcamp at Lighthouse Labs, Coelho has since developed another app: SiteVue. This one helps monitor activity at a construction site and took almost a year to finalize before its launch.

The basics to get started are having an Apple Mac computer, an Apple developer licence ($130 annually), and Xcode (a development tool that costs $20 from the Mac App Store).

“I would definitely tell anyone trying to learn iOS development that it’s not as hard as you might think,” says Coelho. “There are a slew of tutorials online to help deal with specific situations or challenges you might encounter while developing your app.” And schools are offering great educational options that can take your idea from the innermost corners of your mind to the pages of the App Store.