iOS Application Development

iOS Application Development

iOS is a mobile operating system by Apple presented in 2007 on a first-generation iPhone that was called the invention of the year afterwards. Initially, the OS was installed on iPhones and iPods touch (at that time it was called the iPhone OS). Then iPads and Apple TVs were added to them as well.

iOS cannot be installed on devices other than Apple products, which is an important feature of the operating system. Therefore, all available applications can be found in the App Store. Currently, there are over 2 million applications with a total number of downloads exceeding 180 billion in this digital distribution store for Apple mobile devices and laptops. The number of users is already one billion.

Why do people like iOS? First, iOS is very easy to use. Second, new applications in the App Store go through a rigorous selection process, which allows users to receive high-quality mobile apps.

iOS mobile app development process

Developing an iOS application isn’t just about creating it and adding it to the App Store. The process requires careful planning, research, and a clear focus. For your application to be successful, you must follow a number of steps correctly during its development. Typically, the entire cycle consists of five stages:

  1. Planning. Before starting development, it is important to define the target audience, purposes, and required functions of your iOS application. It is also necessary to conduct comprehensive market research to ensure your application is competitive. At this stage, the terms of reference for the development of a mobile app are being prepared.
  2. Design. At this stage, the appearance (a mockup and user interface) is created. After approval, a designer starts working with the mockup. The designer prepares the final look that users will see on their iPhones and iPads.
  3. Development. Programmers create an iOS application based on the design approved at the design stage.
  4. Testing. Once development is complete, the application must be tested. QA engineers must check it thoroughly to make sure the application functions in a correct way without any errors.
  5. Launch and maintenance. When testers have checked the application, you can safely release it to the market, namely, upload it to the App Store. However, after successfully adding to the store, your work has not come to an end. Like any software, the application has to be maintained. You must technically support it, improve its functionality, and add new features.

iOS app development process

What the iOS app development phase includes

Development is translating the vision of your project into life. At this stage, the iOS development team will work on three main parts of the project at once: the back end, API, and front end.

Back-end development

When it comes to the functionality of an iOS application, back-end development plays a major role. It includes all server-side development: functioning, authentication of user accounts, setting up interaction with them, integration with social networks, push notifications, and so on.

API creation

An application programming interface (API) connects the external and internal interfaces of a mobile application. The API is one of the main components in the process of creating an iOS application.

Front-end development

The front end of an application is the side that interacts directly with the user. It includes working with various design elements. A well-designed front end makes it easy to work with different screen sizes and orientations so that the application displays correctly on both iPhone 7 and iPhone 11.

Languages used for iOS app development

Native development of iPhone and iPad applications involves choosing between two programming languages — Swift and Objective-C.

Programming languages for iOS apps


Swift is an open compiled language that is simple for beginners and functional for professionals. It was released in 2014 for modern needs taking into account and correcting shortcomings of its predecessor, Objective-C. Swift is more reliable and has strong typing, which reduces the number of errors while writing the code and makes the code shorter, thus reducing development time and costs. At present, it is one of the most progressive languages. Here are Swift advantages:

  1. Easy code readability.
  2. Conciseness, lack of verbosity.
  3. Compilation speed.
  4. Interaction with the code in Objective-C that allows using both languages simultaneously.
  5. High security.
  6. Dynamic library support.


Objective-C is a compiled object-oriented language with an impressive history started back in 1983. Initially, it was considered an extension to the C language. However, it soon became popular as an independent programming language. It is still in use now because major projects in Objective-C are still supported. There are also highly specialised tasks that cannot be fulfilled using Swift. Nevertheless, Objective-C lost ground to the newcomer due to the following disadvantages:

  • poor code readability;
  • low performance;
  • lower security;
  • dynamic typing.

C++ is also used in iOS development, but it is impossible to write an iOS application only in C++. As a rule, it is used only for solving logical problems or for writing single modules and various laborious algorithms.

iOS app development environment

Xcode by Apple is considered the most common iOS app development environment. It is an editor with extensive development tools. The core of the package is Xcode itself containing a free set of compilers and most of the Apple developer documentation.

The package also includes Interface Builder, an application for building graphical interfaces. This application makes GUI building visual: a developer can customise styles, fonts, etc. Interface Builder includes emulators of all devices and tools for analysing application performance. Besides, a developed application can be tested without leaving Xcode.

Adding an application to the App Store

Adding an application to the App Store takes time as candidates are selected carefully. A substantial number of applications is rejected, and a new check takes an average of 10–15 business days. To be added to the App Store, an application must meet a list of requirements specified by Apple. According to their terms, your application must:

  • be stable;
  • use only public APIs;
  • match its description;
  • use push notifications correctly;
  • get user consent prior to determining their location;
  • be a final version (NOT an alpha or beta one);
  • NOT contain obvious errors;
  • NOT use hidden functions.

A new application can be rejected if it is useless, not unique, or if it is a modernised mobile version of a website designed as an application.

If you plan to make the application paid, take into account that the more expensive it is in the store, the more carefully Apple checks it. To meet the requirements for paid products, your application must not:

  • use mechanisms for acquiring content, providing services, and expanding functions that are different from in-app purchases;
  • sell real goods or services outside the application through the in-app purchase mechanism;
  • monetise built-in capabilities provided by the hardware or operating system;
  • contain links to external websites with their own forms of purchase;
  • provide access to new options without App Store mechanisms.

Also note that once a correct application is accepted in the App Store, further attempts to add various versions of the same application will lead to blocking.

Top applications and games in the App Store

At the end of 2019, Apple traditionally announced the best applications and games of the year. Some of them made our life more convenient, others added more fun to it, and together they set trends for the rest of the store’s products.

iPhone App of the Year: Spectre Camera

This AI-powered application allows you to take high-quality long exposure shots with your smartphone. It uses computer vision and machine learning technology to automatically detect the type of subject being shot, stabilise the frame, and combine multiple frames into one. Thanks to Spectre Camera, you can capture waterfalls, fountains, rays of the sun, and city lights at night in great detail.

Developer: Lux Optics LLC. Monetisation: payment equal to €4.49 in the EU ($3.99 in the US). 1700 ratings with an average of 4.3.

iPad App of the Year: Flow by Moleskine

Flow by Moleskine is not just an application for those who like to write down their ideas, but a digital notepad where you can write and draw with virtual art instruments. Such a useful productivity aid will help you beautifully portray what you wanted to write on paper when it was not at hand. The feature of Flow lies in its flexibility: customisable markers, an extensive palette of colours, and a unique set of tools.

Developer: Moleskine Studio. Monetisation: in-app purchases of cloud membership for €1.99–21.99 in the EU ($1.99–19.99 in the US). 3600 ratings with an average of 4.2.

iPhone Game of the Year — Sky: Children of the Light

This is an amazing adventure where the player has to visit seven constellation worlds in search of clues. Although the game belongs to the shareware, it does not have unexpected situations when players face obstacles that can be overcome only for money. Sky can be freely finished at no extra cost. You can buy items and gestures to communicate with players.

Developer: Thatgamecompany, Inc. Monetisation: in-game purchases of bundles and packs for €2.29–21.99 in the EU ($1.99–19.99 in the US). 96,700 ratings with an average of 4.9.

iPad Game of the Year: Hyper Light Drifter

This is a 2D action RPG in the style of a 16-bit classic, where an armed hero roams a shattered world in search of a cure. Its lead developer Alex Preston was inspired by SNES games and the first Diablo. He raised $640,000 on Kickstarter, organised a team, and in 2016 released the game first for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. In 2018, a version for Nintendo Switch was released, and a year later, a mobile version for iPhones and iPads was published.

Developer: Heart Machine, LLC. Monetisation: payment equal to €5.49 in the EU ($4.99 in the US). 3600 ratings with an average of 4.9.

Ordering an iOS application

A high-quality iOS app will help your company satisfy present customers, attract a new audience, and increase brand loyalty. A successful application can not only become a useful advertising tool but also grow into an independent business generating revenue.

iOS app development cost

Our qualified team competently approaches the development of any complexity and performs tasks without delay. We will create a unique business model, a convenient and user-friendly interface, and will also help with placement in the App Store and marketing promotion.

Creating a mobile application for iOS consists of the following stages:

  1. Writing terms of reference (if you don’t have one) — from 18 hours.
  2. Business analysis and specification — from 20 hours.
  3. UI and UX design — about 35 hours.
  4. Back-end development — more than 40 hours, depending on the required functionality.
  5. Front-end development — more than 30 hours.
  6. Testing — about 20 hours, depending on the functionality.

Based on these data, the approximate cost of an iOS application starts at $20,000. It is the cost of the MVP, and then it depends on the level of complexity. Please note that after the development is completed, the application must be supported, and such service is paid separately.

Polygant has been developing iOS applications for 9 years. Our applications are always unique, as we take into account the wishes of customers and adapt to the activity specifics. Send your request, and after a detailed discussion, we will immediately start your project!

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