Last Friday, we chanced upon an interesting stat while doing some research work on the web. In 2014, the total number of online queries for Android app development training surged by over 170% (in India), compared to the previous year. There has been a rapid rise in pursuing careers as iOS developers as well (if anything, iOS developers earn more than Android-only professionals). This escalating interest in becoming full-time mobile app developers has certainly kept pace with the rapidly spiralling demand for and download count of applications (projected to touch 66 billion by the end of 2016). This week’s AppBoard Tuesday (ABT) comes with handy tips and pointers for all the aspiring mobile app developers out there. Read on:
- Get the right technical training – Over the last 12 months, the total number of enrollments in AutoCAD course have more than doubled. In general too, to become a master at mobile app development, you need to have the right certifications. Get into a B.Tech or MCA course from a recognized university, and gather as much knowledge about coding techniques and languages as possible. There are several institutions offering graduation courses in computer science too. You can go for that as well.
- Speak the languages – There is nothing like ‘I want to make iOS apps, so I only need to know Objective-C/Swift’. Your focus, as a student, should be on learning as many programming languages as possible. Java, C++, C#, Objective-C, Swift, HTML5 – do not leave out any of the popular languages used for mobile app coding. Later on, you can always choose an area of specialization, and learn more about one particular language.
- Be aware of the frameworks – Every mobile platform has app development frameworks and SDKs. You need to have a working knowledge of each of them. For those who wish to become Android developers, in-depth knowledge of Eclipse and Google Android Studio is an absolute must. If iOS app development is what you are more interested in, get familiar with the latest version of Xcode (version 6.3 beta is available for download). In addition, learn how to work with cross-platform app development frameworks (e.g., Xamarin or PhoneGap). Your objective should be on being able to develop for all platforms. Why limit your skill set?
- Don’t worry about the age-factor – There is no ‘right age’ for becoming an app developer (of course, if you are on the wrong side of the 40s, that’s another matter!). More often than not, mobile app companies prefer taking candidates with a couple of years of relevant experience onboard, instead of hiring absolute freshers. You need to complete your academic courses, get the requisite training, and then look for a good opening. If it takes a year or two more, so be it.
- Think like a general app-user – In the myriad of coding languages and wireframing and app prototyping, many new app developers neglect the aspect of user-experience that their software provides. Remember, those who download/buy apps from stores are not interested to know the level of coding expertise gone into making them. What they want is an app that is user-friendly, fast, and solves a precise purpose (for instance, educational app for kids, or a personal mobile finance app, or a gaming app). You will have to an expert programmer, but do not lose your ability to think and view your own apps as a normal end-user.
- Don’t dream of getting rich overnight – The days when the revenue share of app developers (before Apple App Store was launched) was a measly 30% are long gone. The total revenue from apps are expected to reach $50 billion by 2016. However, the reality remains that new developers have precious little chances of getting rich overnight. Unless you are some sort of an absolute genius, you will face failures, before finally being able to successfully create your first app. According to a survey conducted in the UK, most apps struggle to cover their total development costs – which, in turn, paints a rather bleak picture for developers. The secret lies in sticking to the job, learning as much as possible, and gaining valuable experience. As your app-making skills become proficient, your earnings would increase. You can even start working as a freelance/indie mobile app entrepreneur.
- Do you wish to be a developer or a designer? – You can become either, but not both. If you interests lie in the direction of mobile app development per se – don’t try to learn up graphic designing techniques, animation methods and other elements of UI/UX designing for mobile apps as well. Any self-respecting mobile app company has separate teams of graphic designers, with whom you would have to collaborate. In any case, there is an old adage about developers not being good designers, and graphic artists being poor in terms of programming expertise. You want to code for apps – focus on that.
- Dedicated app development training helps – Once your mainstream tech courses are complete, look out for specialized mobile app development training courses (many institutes across the world offer them). Although not absolutely necessary, these courses help students in getting a first-hand feel of mobile platforms, app development frameworks, and platform APIs. After the completion of classroom training (usually takes around 3 months), you will be asked to create a mobile app within a pre-specified time-span. It would be a good way to start out in this field.
- Startups are good places to join – If you manage to bag a job at a multinational mobile app firm rightaway, nothing like it. But, there is nothing to frown at startup companies either. The average annual compensation levels might be on the lower side, but you will get more scopes for on-the-job training. What’s more, many of these startup app companies are helmed by developers with many years of experience – and their guidance will stand you in good stead. If you spend a few years in a small company learning the tricks of the trade, moving on to a bigger company would become that much easier.
- Think futuristic – The world of mobile computing is in a constant change of flux. New frameworks, SDKs, app development tools, and devices are being released with remarkable regularity. At present, all the craze among iOS app developers is with WatchKit – the tool to create third-party apps for Apple Watch. To become a successful app developer, you need to keep a tab on the latest trends, types, methods and channels for development. Something that worked well five years back might have become totally obsolete now.
Recruiters from top mobile app companies confirm that there is, generally, a gap between the theoretical knowledge base of candidates and the type of expertise they are looking for. This is where the importance of modular app development training courses come into the picture. Although iOS and Android do not have any such special certification programs (Microsoft has one), it is always possible to join an institute and learn the nitty-gritty of mobile app development. That would make it easier to grasp platform-specific knowledge later on.
The scope of career growth for a mobile app developer is tremendous. If you are good at your job, and are not shy of putting in hard yards – your pay package might very well double within 3-4 years. In the field of information technology, app-making is one of the most exciting career opportunities, with new challenges and lucrative rewards. Provided you have the necessary expertise, you can really soar in this profession. All the very best!
Okie-dokie…that’s all we have in this edition of AppBoard Tuesday. We are toying with the idea of launching a nationwide contest for app ideas later this year – let’s see what comes out of that. On the app front, Drift Keyboard, App Bottles and BabySitter are two new projects we are working on. Prince Of Asia, a delightful fantasy-adventure mobile game, will also be launched soon.
AppBoard will be back next Tuesday (no surprises there!), with another new topic related to mobile applications. Have a topic in mind? If yes, do write in to us – and we will certainly cover it. Stay well till next time…and…you know this by now…love thy apps!
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