How do you create an app?
September 15, 2015 2:18 PM   Subscribe

I have an idea for an app for smart phones, but have no idea on how to develop the idea to a working app. Can anybody walk me through the process?
posted by Coffee Bean to Technology (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Generally, you hire someone who knows how to code to do it for you. There are lots of firms that do it, or you can hire an individual on Upwork (used to be elance) or many other options.

Or you can teach yourself how to code - do you have any experience or background here? Do you know whether you want to start with Android or iOS?

But it's not as easy as like... making a website on SquareSpace or something. Unless you have something extremely generic - basically a static webpage living in an app - you will need someone who knows how to code to do it.
posted by brainmouse at 2:21 PM on September 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

I agree with what brainmouse says, but if you do want to learn to actually build apps yourself, I'm a big fan of the Big Nerd Ranch books. They also have training, but I've never used it so can't vouch for it.
posted by primethyme at 2:36 PM on September 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

I agree with brainmouse that you should hire someone to do it.

However, there are ways of doing it that are similar to setting up a SquareSpace site, such as the MIT App Inventor. I haven't used these so I am not sure how effective they actually are, or if you will, at the end, have an app that you can put on the market.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:44 PM on September 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

First, it's possible that the app you're thinking of already exists. I would make a list of all the keywords someone might use to find your app and then use those keywords to look for apps in the App Store and on Google Play. Try to think of variations on the keywords too; "hide and seek" could also be "search and find" for example.

If an app that does all the things you want already exists, it's usually best to just stop there. However, if you find an app that's got basic functionality but crappy graphics or limited additional features and you think it could be better, you may have an opportunity to build a better mouse trap. Use that app you found (or multiple apps) as a baseline template and try to ID all the core features of the app you want to build and how your version would be better. This will help you communicate your idea to other people.

Then you gotta decide if you want to learn to code and build it yourself, or work with a developer and a graphic designer to build it instead. Apps aren't easy to make, and they're not cheap either. It's also easy to be taken advantage of by programmers who will make you sign a boilerplate agreement that they own the app and not you. Tricky stuff. Do your idea research first, then decide who's going to do the graphics, development and marketing. If you want it to be you, we can advise you towards that route. If not, you gotta be prepared to spend money and time having someone else make it for you.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:03 PM on September 15, 2015

Pretty much everything said above. If you'd like it's be happy to vet the idea and give you soon be sense of the scope. I can sign an NDA, if you're into that kinda thing. MeFi mail me if you're interested.
posted by pyro979 at 3:08 PM on September 15, 2015

If the app is for Android and you don't want to learn to code, you can use App Inventor. If you have a basic understanding of variables and algorithms (conditional things (IF), loops, and Boolean logic you can make an app without any coding knowledge.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:37 PM on September 15, 2015

If you decide you wish to learn how to program computers, at the Open-Source Computer Science Degree you will find a collection of courses curated to emulate a complete undergraduate degree in Computer Science. Maybe you'd first like to test the waters to see if this is the right direction for you. MIT's Introduction to Computer Science and Programming comes complete with video lectures, syllabus, and course materials. Here is MIT's complete collection of Open Source CS courses.
posted by little eiffel at 9:44 PM on September 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Bear in mind that there are over a million apps in the iOS app store and most apps make almost no money, like a few dollars a month. The days of the app store gold rush are long behind us.
posted by w0mbat at 2:27 PM on September 16, 2015

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