While Android OS is emerging as the dominant player in the smartphone market, the iPad continues to rule the tablet segment. With over a 100 millions iPads sold, many developers are mulling iPad application development. Here are my seven iPad facts you should know before plunging into the development process.
As a developer, having the skills to develop an iPad app can help you get interesting work and make decent money. If you are planning to build such a skill set, there are a few things that you need to know before you start.
1. Mac is mandatory If you already have a Mac, you are lucky. Because if you do not have one, you will have to buy it to build apps for the iPad (or iPhone). You see, you need a Mac to put your app on a device for testing. There is no other way. So, you've got two options: convince your buddy to lend you a Mac or loosen your purse and invest in a Mac.
2. You will need an iPad too There are several simulators that allow developers to test their iPad apps, but they are never good enough. If you are simply creating a practice app and using a simulator, you are okay. But if you develop an app commercially, you will have to test it on the iPad to see how it actually works. So, if you are planning to become a professional iPad app developer, buying an iPad is also compulsory.
3. Learning Xcode will take effort Your work with Eclipse or Visual Studio will not help you much when it comes to Xcode – you will have to unlearn and relearn. Xcode works differently and it will take some time and work to get the hang of it.
4. Cross platform alternatives exist There's more than one way to skin a cat. If you do not feel comfortable using Xcode or Objective-C, there are other ways: HTML5, MonoTouch, Titanium, and PhoneGap, to name a few. You can use your existing knowledge and create apps using a number of different sources.
5. You will need a developer account In order to submit your apps on the iTunes App Store, you will need to create a developer account with Apple. It can take around two weeks for the account to get approved. There are different kinds of accounts. Choose the personal account if you are a freelancer working individually. If you are working in a group or are a part of an organization where other developers may also need an account at some point of time, consider getting an Enterprise account.
6. Developer account not needed for practice For developers who are simply practicing iPad app development, there is no need to create a developer account. Xcode and iOS simulator can be downloaded without any account. When you want to place an app on the App Store, you will need to create a developer account. There are many benefits of having a developer account; so if you are planning to launch an app eventually, it is better to get an account at the start.
7. UI design for the iPad is totally different There is a tendency among newbie developers to think of iPad as a smartphone with a slightly larger screen and no calling facilities. That is a dangerous assumption. While coding for iPad will be similar to the coding for the iPhone, the bigger iPad screen allows for a lot more innovation and experimentation. If you simply treat it as a bigger smartphone, you won't be able to fully exploit the size of the tablet.
Developing apps for the iPad can help you make money and build a reputation. But, you will need to invest a good amount of time, money and effort to build the skill set. There are several cross-platform technologies in the market that can also help you develop and design basic iPad apps. Once you master the skills, you have a good chance of finding challenging projects to work on.