10 Success Factors for iOS App Development
Does your company have a game-changing mobile app in mind? If you have, then you will encounter the big decision of choosing between iOS development and Android. Many companies make the mistake of selecting both when launching an app for the first time. However, doing so will be tedious and resource-intensive because the two brands have different standards. That's why choosing one is best.
Most developers would agree that iOS is the best of the two. Apple has a high standard for companies, requiring them to offer quality design, excellent user experience, solid security, and uniqueness to bring well-performing apps to the market. It's also worth mentioning that Apple has a loyal customer base.
According to a recent report, the iPhone alone has around 1.46 billion users worldwide, accounting for 21.67 percent of the global smartphone-using population today, opening a significant potential for mobile app companies everywhere.
With that, Ivan Serrano, business and tech writer for eight years and author of the guide below, will help companies and developers explore the many success factors for iOS development. Serrano has written for sites like StartupNation, SmallBizClub, Time Doctor, and Namecheap, providing insightful trends and opportunities to businesses of all sizes. He states, "Apple's high standards have forced developers to create quality apps that prioritize user experience and innovation, which is why going for iOS is better than Android."
Read below for more.
Understanding the Apple Ecosystem
Apple's ecosystem is not a product but an experience the company offers to Apple users. It's an interconnected digital environment encompassing various devices, services, and software designed to work seamlessly.
To further understand this digital environment and why it's crucial for the success factors for iOS development listed here, we're breaking down all the essential components of making this ecosystem work. Learning about the following will enable developers to create a program or service that will fit a comprehensive technological landscape, especially for those developing iOS apps for the first time.
As mentioned, Apple's ecosystem is available across all their products. These are the iPhone, Mac, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, AirPods, and HomePods. Through these products, Apple can create a cohesive system that offers seamless user experiences.
Users can conduct one task on an Apple device and then seamlessly pick it up on another. For instance, if users start an email draft on an iPhone, they can finish the whole message on their Mac or iPad. Aside from messages, they can access their photos, calendar events, contacts, and their browser.
Another example of this ecosystem in the works is mirroring various processes from a user's iPhone and iPad to their Apple TV. Aside from tracking their health and fitness, users can use their Apple Watch to control specific smart home devices. They can also use their AirPods and HomePods to execute different tasks on their iPhones or iPads.
These examples showcase how Apple products are designed to function as standalone devices and as part of an extensive interconnected digital ecosystem. The best part is that Apple uses a consistent design language across its products. This ecosystem allows users to encounter the same familiar interface and achieve easier learning curves as they transition from one device to another.
The operating system
Apple's operating systems, iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, create a cohesive ecosystem in all Apple products, providing a seamless transition across multiple devices. Features like Handoff and Continuity allow users to conduct tasks on one product and pick it up on another. Aside from that, certain apps are available on all Apple devices to elevate their streamlined digital environment.
For instance, they can interact with Apple's voice assistant, Siri, on any device. Users can ask for weather updates, play a song, and set reminders through the app or other online tasks, providing the same interaction mode regardless of the user's query.
Apple's storage service, iCloud, is also available in all products. This integration allows users to sync and access their data across different devices, from photos to documents to other essential files. Meanwhile, AirDrop, Apple's peer-to-peer file-sharing service, is widely incorporated in Apple's ecosystem. This tool provides an easy way to transfer files from one device to another, from iPhone to Mac or Mac to iPad, featuring robust end-to-end encryption that ensures a safer sharing experience.
Moreover, Apple's proprietary messaging app, iMessage, allows users to send texts, photos, videos, and voice messages across different Apple devices. It offers unique features with a distinct touch that showcases the brand's approach to incorporating creativity and encryption with communication.
Apple's video and audio calling service, FaceTime, is also available in all Apple products. It allows users to handle quality individual and group calls, whether calling an iPad or Mac user from their iPhone.
The Apple ID
At the core of Apple's ecosystem is the Apple ID. This singular sign-in system allows Apple users to access and maximize the company's centralized experiences.
The Apple ID is the primary sign-in method users must create and utilize when setting up their devices, purchasing apps on the App Store, and accessing services like iCloud. Logging in through this account will enable users to sync data like photos, documents, events, contacts, and notes across different Apple products. For instance, if you save a file on your iPad, you can access it from your iPhone or Mac using the same account.
Aside from that, Apple ID also supports certain notable services like Family Sharing. This feature allows users to share App Store purchases and Apple subscriptions with family members, creating a centralized billing on one account. An Apple ID is also crucial with the "Find My" feature, enabling users to track their Apple devices when lost and other location-based services.
Various services like the App Store and Apple Music also offer personalization based on a user's Apple ID. Through this service, users can receive app suggestions based on previous activities on different Apple products. It also provides secure features like two-factor authentication, requiring a verification code from a trusted device for questionable sign-ins.
Success Factors for iOS Development
To penetrate Apple's innovative ecosystem, developers must consider many success factors to get their iOS apps published on the App Store. Listed below are some of the most crucial ones to keep in mind.
1. Compliance with the App Store guidelines
It's known that publishing an app on the App Store is much more complex than on its Google counterpart, the Play Store. In 2020, the company revealed that it rejected nearly one million apps for reasons that generally threaten the security of their users, including, but not limited to, duplicate code, privacy violation, and undocumented features.
Following the App Store's guidelines are among the most critical success factors for iOS development. The good news is that Apple provides this information publicly to help developers create apps that meet the company's standards.
Apple prioritizes various factors to approve and publish an app. One of these factors is safety. The company doesn't want an app that contains upsetting or offensive content and features. They're also strict about apps that damage a device or potentially mislead users into harming themselves. Some of Apple's most notable red flags include defamatory content, realistic portrayals of abuse or torture, pornographic materials, improper data handling, and false information.
The company also urges developers to submit apps that are complete. They prefer that the apps be in their final versions and available for pre-order, complete with all the proposed designs and features. The App Store disapproves of an app's demo, beta, and trial versions. They must also be compatible both on iPhone and iPad. Plus, they must comply with various system requirements that the App Store mandates.
The App Store also has various business and legal requirements before approval. These include in-app purchases, subscriptions, data collection, intellectual property, and more. It also has multiple guidelines on an app's design, which we'll explore below.
2. Functional and attractive design
Design is one of the most crucial success factors for iOS development. Developers are free to create the looks and functions they please. However, Apple has specific guidelines an app must follow. They want products that are simple, refined, innovative, and easy to use.
The design must be original and doesn't look or feel like a copy of other popular apps on the App Store. Aside from that, it must be functional enough to feel useful or, as Apple put it, "app-like." Apple will only accept the app if it provides lasting entertainment or utility value. It must also function independently without requiring other apps to be installed.
Apple also has specific regulations about features like stickers, push notifications, app extensions, and more. These standards could create a more extensive design process. However, Apple putting them in place will force developers to create apps that prioritize quality user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
3. Unique or new solutions for users
Aside from unique aesthetics, Apple prefers apps to be one-of-a-kind or at least bring something new to the market. If you're in the planning stage of your iOS app, consider all the similarities with existing ones on the App Store. After that, carefully determine how your app will stand out.
Understanding your target audience is also one of the many success factors for iOS development. Doing so will help you look for significant pain points that your app can address, allowing you to present your app as a solution to a specific problem. It could also help you identify opportunities that competitors and similar App Store apps haven't yet discovered. Getting ahead in such a way could be your key to standing out, especially by Apple's standards.
4. Robust cybersecurity
As mentioned above, Apple has strict guidelines on user safety, particularly with how apps handle and utilize a person's data. Aside from offering countermeasures against cybersecurity threats, Apple wants apps to comply with various legal requirements in any location.
When creating your app, privacy protection must be paramount in your development. It's not just one of the success factors for iOS development but for any device, too.
The company requires that apps comply with the best privacy practices, applicable laws, and Apple's Developer Program License Agreement. They suggest that developers review a few public guidelines and industry scores, including the Federal Trade Commission's report on mobile privacy titled Mobile Privacy Disclosures: Building Trust Through Transparency.
Regarding transparency, Apple requires developers to disclose and describe new features and product changes in a "What's New" text or video tutorial. These include simple bug fixes, performance improvements, and security updates.
Moreover, Apple requires apps that collect user data to secure consent before obtaining them. They must also provide access to information about how and where the app will use their data. Meanwhile, data collected for a specific purpose may not be used on a different one without user consent unless permitted by law otherwise.
5. Test your App before launching
Apple requires apps to be complete when submitting. It must be available for pre-order and offers all the features developers plan on providing.
Testing is one of the vital success factors for iOS development. After developing your app, test it thoroughly for bugs, crashes, and other potential issues you don't want users to encounter when using your tool or service. The good news is that Apple helps developers test their beta versions through TestFlight.
TestFlight is an Apple service that allows developers to invite beta testers to experience the app before launching it to the market. It offers an excellent opportunity for you to gain valuable insights and make immediate improvements to the app.
The best part about TestFlight is that it allows developers to invite internal and external testers for their apps. You can assign up to 100 team members from different divisions as testers and use up to 30 devices for your beta builds. You can also invite up to 10,000 external users through a public link.
Through TestFlight, developers for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS can receive many feedback types directly from the app. Users can take screenshots and leave notes about crashes and other issues they encounter while testing. You can conduct your own tests and then utilize TestFlight. Doing so will help provide a more robust testing experience for your app.
6. Quality customer support
Customer support must be paramount in your iOS app development. While Apple doesn't explicitly require apps to have solid customer service, it's adamant that the company provides one because it's among the crucial success factors for iOS development.
One of the most significant pain points users encounter is the lack of customer support after experiencing issues with an app. Investing in quality app support will result in high user satisfaction. Plus, it will provide you with insightful points to improve your iOS app since it's likely that user inquiries involve issues like crashes and bugs.
Regarding customer interaction, Apple urges developers to treat users with respect, be it by responding to App Store reviews, customer support inquiries, or even communicating with Apple personnel. They also discourage developers from harassing, discriminating, intimidating, and bullying users or anyone involved with the app, inside and out.
Additionally, Apple denounces manipulative, misleading, or other fraudulent developer behavior. Any attempt to trick users into making unwanted purchases, sharing unnecessary data, or any deceitful practices through an app guarantees an immediate rejection upon submission or removal from the App Store.
7. Offline mode
Generally, offline mode is one of the many success factors for iOS development that users seek in their favorite apps. Offline mode is not just vital for offering an uninterrupted experience, but it's also important to elevate your app's security. Limiting your app's internet reliance will help protect user's private information, reducing the amount of data that could go across potentially untrustworthy networks.
When developing your app's offline mode, ensure that users have access to the same functionalities as online. That means it must allow users to store and access critical data even if the app's not connected to the internet.
8. Limiting third-party dependencies
Developers must be careful when acquiring third-party features for their apps. Using the wrong code could make the app significantly flawed. To ensure quality and completeness, limit the app's dependencies on these third-party libraries or choose the best ones compatible with the program.
For instance, if your app offers various location-based services, you will likely integrate a geocoding API or application programming interface to provide accurate mapping solutions and other similar features.
Many developers utilize famous options like the Google Maps API. However, other quality alternatives to the popular tool, like the Apple Maps API, are available to improve an app's location-based features. When acquiring one, looking for a more affordable Google geocoding API pricing substitute is not enough. You must also look at its overall compatibility with your app. That way, you reduce potential crashes and bugs in your program. This principle applies to all third-party tools you want to integrate with your app.
9. User customization
Customization enables users to achieve a look and function tailored to their preferences, boosting customer experience and engagement with an app. Offering these personalized experiences is also one of the best success factors for iOS development because they help increase user retention and loyal customers.
Personalization encompasses various features. These include allowing users to customize their app's interface design, providing recommendations based on activities, and offering discounts or special offers. Some apps provide personalization by asking a user's preference before utilizing the service. For instance, entertainment-based apps provide users with options of genres or content types before using the app. This part of the onboarding process allows the app to create a more customized experience the user will surely enjoy.
10. Compatibility to all versions
Developing an app that supports multiple iOS versions is vital to cater to Apple's growing broad customer base. Doing so will help you tap all iPhone users today, regardless of their iOS version. Plus, it helps avoid alienating Apple users who still prefer to stay on iOS 16 and below or have yet to upgrade to the new one.
Try incorporating features like Apple's Handoff into your development. Identify key processes you want your users to do from their iPhones to other devices like Macs and iPads. Apple doesn't necessarily require developers to incorporate this feature.
However, it could boost your app's user experience, primarily if you're catering to long-term Apple customers. Doing this step is not just one of the success factors for iOS development but for any Apple device, too.
Advantages of Developing an iOS App
Developing for iOS holds many advantages over Android. The following are some known benefits of creating an app for Apple users.
Faster development time
One of the many reasons why developing an iOS app is faster is because Android has more device fragmentation than iOS. Fragmentation refers to the variations in screen size, resolution, operating system, and the overall hardware specifications of a device. Because of fragmentation, the development process is much more tedious since developers must consider many factors and do extensive testing when creating their apps.
Another reason why iOS apps have a quicker development turnaround is because of Apple's programming language, Swift. Swift is one of the many helpful tools contributing to the success factors for iOS development. It's considered by many developers as among the easiest languages to learn and utilize.
Swift also has better speed, performance, and resource-handling capabilities, particularly with memory. It also has built-in automatic code optimization, allowing developers to execute various tasks faster.
Moreover, Swift is one of the safest languages for developers, offering a solid typing system and error-handling features. Through Swift, developers can spot and fix bugs immediately instead of waiting for issues to arise from compiled code.
Access to a broad customer base
The best part about developing an iOS app is that Apple has a loyal and broad customer base. Once the company approves your product for the App Store, you have a guarantee that your app will find its audience.
As mentioned above, the iPhone alone has billions of users worldwide this year, and experts predict a continuous growth in these numbers. The best part is that existing Apple users remain loyal customers. This brand loyalty is because of Apple's dedication to advanced technology and seamless user experience. Many Apple users would agree that they have difficulty switching to Android devices after experiencing iOS.
The only caveat is that long-term Apple users tend to be more critical of the apps they encounter since they recognize the company's standards. Plus, they're likely tech-savvy users. However, by following the company's guidelines and the many success factors for iOS development mentioned above, it will be easy to appease them.
Better investment return
As stated, Apple's high standard requires developers to offer more robust and quality apps to the market. Going through all their tests and passing implies that any app published on the App Store is in excellent condition, elevating your company's image in the market. Because of that, your app and all its features, both free and paid, have the potential to perform well, providing a significant investment return to your company.
For instance, the company is known for pioneering incredible user experiences. Through the Human Interface Guidelines (HIG), Apple requires developers to create stunning visuals and functional app features, encompassing user accessibility and layouts. That means if you pass their standards in such areas, you guarantee to improve your app's user engagement and retention.
Launch a Profitable iOS App
Apple has a significantly high standard before publishing an app. However, following their guidelines helps ensure that apps provide quality user experiences, robust security, and an overall excellent functionality worth the user's time and money.
Take the time to create your product. Consider all the success factors for iOS development mentioned above and change the digital world with your unique program.
In conclusion, developing a successful iOS app requires careful consideration of various key factors to meet Apple's high standards and cater to the unique demands of their ecosystem. Choosing iOS over Android offers several advantages, including access to a loyal and vast customer base. Here, we have explored the essential success factors for iOS development:
- Understanding the Apple Ecosystem: iOS apps should seamlessly integrate with various Apple products, operating systems, and services, providing users with a unified experience.
- Compliance with App Store Guidelines: Adherence to Apple's guidelines is crucial for approval on the App Store. Meeting their standards for safety, completeness, and legality is essential.
- Functional and Attractive Design: Designing an app that is user-friendly, innovative, and unique is key to success. Apple encourages apps to have a functional and original design.
- Unique or New Solutions: Offering something new or addressing specific user pain points can set your app apart in a crowded market.
- Robust Cybersecurity: Ensuring user data protection and compliance with privacy laws is essential for gaining trust and approval.
- Thorough Testing: Testing your app for bugs and issues, both internally and with external testers, is critical for a smooth launch.
- Quality Customer Support: Providing excellent customer support is vital to address user issues and maintain high satisfaction levels.
- Offline Mode: Implementing an offline mode enhances user experience and data security.
- Limiting Third-Party Dependencies: Carefully selecting and integrating third-party libraries to minimize potential issues is crucial.
- User Customization: Personalization options improve user engagement and retention.
Additionally, developing for iOS offers benefits such as faster development times, access to a broad and loyal customer base, and the potential for a better return on investment due to the high quality and standards Apple enforces.
In summary, while meeting Apple's rigorous standards can be challenging, following these success factors for iOS development can lead to the creation of a profitable and well-received app in the Apple ecosystem. By delivering a high-quality, innovative, and secure app that aligns with Apple's vision, developers can tap into the vast potential of the iOS platform and offer users a valuable and enjoyable experience.