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1/7/2013 11:45:08 AM
What is an App Developer
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App Developer Magazine
What is an App Developer


What is an App Developer

Monday, January 7, 2013

Richard Harris Richard Harris

While the mobile industry continues to grow, it's becoming increasingly obvious that some definitions of who is, and what is, have been lost. Being a mobile app developer myself I thought I would stand back and look at the shadow I cast so as to define exactly what it is I am. There is no way I could completely cover every aspect of my job or mobile app programming in general, but here is a short,  but important list of items that define a mobile app developer. I welcome your comments below :)

Just who is a mobile app developer?

There are basically two types of "app developers". One is a true programmer with ideas and the power to put apps into the market all on their own. Then there is the idea person who is a the non-programmer but has a good idea, and uses outsourced resources to get an app published into the markets. Either type has a common goal – to earn revenue by putting apps into a marketplace or bringing ideas they have into fruition.

The average age range is between 11 years old and 80 years old, mostly male, and very technical minded.

Most developers work independently as entrepreneurs doing the entire process themselves from UI design, to artwork, to publishing the app.

They also tend to be MAC based computer users with engineering degrees or Computer Science degrees or a mix of both and generally have strong IT backgrounds.


What are app markets and app stores?

This is where app developers go to publish and sell their apps. iOS is Apple, Play is Google, Amazon App Store is Amazon, Windows Phone is Windows.

Each app store is available in many different countries and languages, and across many different devices, plus they usually support different OS versions which is why developers must "target" their app when compiling it for release.

Alternate Android markets for publishing include, GetJar, Android Pit, Handster, SlideME, VodaFone and a few others.

Windows Phone can only deploy in Windows market.

iOS can only deploy in Apple market.

Most app markets take 30% of revenue stream for any app sold, in-app purchase, or service sold from within an app.

Developers can publish any app for free and include ads in it with no revenue sharing from app store provider.

Each market has a strict set of rules app developers must abide by or risk app removal or worse, suspension from the market. Removal is not common but does happen from time to time, complete removal is rare.

What tools do app developers use?

There are just a few tools the developer uses along the path from design to publish. You would think it would take more than this, but overall it's not that many.

The IDE. There is what is called an IDE which stands for Integrated Development Environment. The IDE is the environment used to actually write the programming code. The most popular IDE for iOS is Xcode, and for Android it's Eclipse – both are free. But an IDE is nothing without an SDK. SDK stands for Software Development Kit and you need the SDK for whatever platform you are going to develop for. As an example, if programming for an iOS app you'll need the xCode IDE, and the SDK from Apple for iOS mobile. The SDK installs into the IDE which lets the developer use the API's available. An API is the library embedded into the SDK which a developer calls from in order to do things, IE scroll the screen, move the game, go to another screen ,etc.

Programming languages for iOS include mostly Objective C, HTML, and SQLLIte. Android languages are mostly Android Java and XML, and Windows is mostly .NET based and Visual Studio as an IDE.

Another common tool for the developer is a graphic manipulation tool such as Photoshop or Gimp. Each are tools a developer uses to design app screens, icons, and general artwork for their app.

A developer must have a physical mobile device as well. A mobile device is invaluable to the developer because constant testing is part of any app development. If developing an iOS game a developer will usually be testing on an iPhone, and iPad together for instance, or when developing for the Android market a Android based device such as the Droid and Nexus tablet is part of the arsenal.


So how does the app developer earn revenue? There are 3 basic models. 

  1. FREE with ADS: Giving an app away and putting advertisements inside it.
  2. FREEMIUM: Giving app away and putting additional paid features inside the app.
  3. PAID: Users simply buy the app.

Each method has it's advantages and disadvantages but not every app will sell the same so some research into what will work best for a particular app is key.

Popular ad networks used by mobile developers include Leadbolt, Admob, Pontiflex, JumpTap, Inneractive, inmobi, Tapit, Airpush, RevMob, Chartboost, MobClix, MobFox, Adfonic, Tapjoy, and Pontiflex.


After an app is created and published into the app store it's time to get it in front of the masses. Developers use tools such as social media outlets to try and get the word out, as well as purchasing ad space in mobile ad networks to advertise through such as admob, and iAds.

Cross promoting an app has become very popular, and services such as LunarAds,  Applifier, and Appspree are outlets to do that.

Common Services

Corona is a 3rd party SDK developers use in conduction with their IDE to develop mobile apps.

Game Salad is another 3rd party SDK developers can use to make apps with their IDE

Cocos2D is an SDK for iOS that works with xCode only to develop apps for Apple

Domain name service and web hosting. It's fairly common to see a website domain built that helps to promote the app in the market. It also sometimes provides a place to put top game scores, and shared links on.

App Annie helps developers see a more accurate depiction of app rankings and downloads – on a day to day or month to month basis.

iTunes Connect is where Apple developers go to register as a mobile developer and deploy apps.

Android Play is where Android developers go to register as a mobile developer and deploy apps.

Windows Phone Market is where Windows developers register and deploy apps.

Amazon Mobile is where Android developers go to register as an Amazon publisher and deploy Android apps for Amazon.

Read more: http://appdevelopermagazine.com

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