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How to Find an iOS App Developer

By Nick Epson on September 18, 2020

Developing a mobile app for iOS is one of the many ways businesses can generate a revenue stream or augment an existing web platform so it’s important to understand how to find an iOS app developer. As a leading digital product agency, we know a thing or two about what it takes to develop sophisticated business applications and what to look for in the developers that build them.

An iOS developer should possess a certain set of skills for the platform on which they develop in addition to great soft skills. Let’s take a look at the skills that differentiate a native iOS developer from a cross-platform app developer then dig into the meat of what qualifies a developer as great.

A native iOS app developer versus cross-platform developers

For the most part, Blue Label Labs prefers to develop most of our apps to be cross-platform, meaning we rely on the React Native framework. A React Native developer can build native apps for both iOS and Android by using this framework which enables them to reuse code for both platforms, thus enabling a business to target a wider range of devices.

Of course, this isn’t always necessary. In some cases, such as when developing an app that will be used internally for an enterprise, you may simply require a native iOS application. When cross-platform development isn’t required for an app, you’ll need to know how to find an iOS app developer.

In a nutshell, a React Native developer is someone who understands JavaScript, or Typescript,  whereas an iOS developer is someone who understands Swift. These are two totally different animals and thus, mutually exclusive – having both skills is great but for pure iOS development however, Swift is the main programming language for Apple platforms.

Hiring an iOS app developer or app development agency

The first step as with many business decisions is understanding your budget. Knowing how to work in development costs into a budget will determine what agencies will fall in your budget as well as what to expect when hiring a developer(s) for your project.

Once this is established, you can begin looking at whether to hire an internal developer or outsource the work to an app development company or digital product agency, such ourselves. Currently, based on one individual’s research on  Indeed, you can expect to hire a single developer for around $115,000 a year. Depending on the scope of your project, you’re typically going to need more than one developer – too, expect the development process to take around 6 months until the product is ready for release. From here, you’ll have to factor in app maintenance costs to keep the product functional for the duration of its lifecycle.

Agency costs can vary dramatically – a ballpark cost for most development endeavors is usually around $150,000 to bring a product to life. The benefit here is that you’ll hire a team of people who are dedicated to your project, often bringing more to the table than just the development process. At Blue Label Labs, we begin the process with a Design Sprint which produces a prototype in just 5 days plus, we work with companies to help market the app as well as refine business strategy.

Qualities of a good developer

To find a great developer, look for the following qualities.

A developer should be well-versed in the proper languages and paradigms and understand ongoing maintenance. Don’t be lured by a developer that’s adept in ReactJS – this is a skill set that’s great for building progressive web apps (PWAs) but it’s not applicable for true native development on iOS.

Your developer should have a solid grasp on Swift, Objective C, and Apple Xcode IDE, at the very least. These will be paramount to building a truly native experience and necessary for ongoing support. Further, the individual or agency should have experience in building and supporting an app throughout its lifecycle. This is a vastly different game compared to web development as ongoing support for an app as mobile devices developers need to understand the lifecycle of an app and, for example, how it lives in and out of memory and how at any point in time. These types of mobile-specific problems are things every mobile app developer worth their salt knows about, but not something someone new to mobile development might be aware of.

Understands how to implement proper UI designs that are responsive across different devices and screen sizes. A good mobile developer understands how to use iOS auto layout to create a UI that seamlessly expands to different devices without re-coding. A telltale sign of a poor app developer is if their UI only looks good on a single device type.

Another important developer trait is the ability to implement pixel-perfect designs from Sketch and Figma designs. A good developer understands how to use tools like Zeplin which makes it super simple to implement the UI precisely to the specification from designers.

Understands how to work and integrate with RESTful APIs. Mobile apps today are heavily reliant on the use of different APIs which allow an app to push and pull data from various systems, whether internal systems or that from third-party services. You won’t get very far without having a developer who knows how to work with JSON and make calls to and from RESTful endpoints. Too, good iOS developers will understand how to work with security tokens such as JSON web tokens (JWTs) to properly secure data. This is also important for using services like iCloud keychain as well as logins from third-party services like Google and Facebook.

Understands the Apple App Store and Google Play app guidelines. Each store has a set of guidelines that developers need to adhere to otherwise they run the risk of having an app rejected. These guidelines change from time to time which means that apps can be delisted if developers aren’t keen on keeping up with new compliance rules.

A good iOS developer knows that if you are going to build Facebook login into the app, you’ll also need Apple Login. Look for app developers who understand the guidelines and then also know how to navigate the byzantine appeals process when apps do get rejected. Understanding the guidelines for the App Store shaves a lot of time off development as it alleviates the need to backpedal when things like properly requesting users’ permissions, using location services, and documenting terms of use restrictions are all done right the first time.

Blue Label Labs are expert iOS app developers

It takes more than one bee to make honey – Blue Label Labs is a hive of creative problem solvers who work together to deliver results that delight. If you’re looking at how to find an iOS app developer, get in touch with us. We deliver apps that exceed expectations and satisfy end-users throughout the life of the app.

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