6 great tools for crazy easy iOS development

The collection of tools available to Apple-product developers has gone from strength to strength. With the relatively recent release of iOS5, Apple went even further towards making its platforms easy to build for. It is now PowerPoint-levels of easy to make a simple app and this can be expanded on with the use of fantastic community created tools. Here are some that I’ve found useful.


Parse allows a developer to “add a backend to your mobile app within minutes”. Instead of having to build your own API service, host & balance it, Parse.com allows you to structure your mobile backend using their service.

The implementation is fantastic, the tutorials guide you through your first use of Parse and before long your mind starts racing with the potential of being able to host simple bits of data, without all the hassle.

Best of all, they offer a free service which should be enough to get you started, at least.


Playtomic – Game Analytics

As the name implies, this is a game-centric tip which also works for a multitude of platforms (including HTML5 and Flash), but this is still a great addition to any lists based around making a developers life easier when developing iOS apps.

The premise is simple: you can create custom logging events using the Playtomic library and then login to your account via the website and see your results. Heatmaps, in-game statistics, play length can all be collected and sifted through for that juicy bit of information that your app might just be needing.

As with Parse, the best part of this service is that it is free, easy and reliable, meaning theres really no reason to not add it in next time you’re trying to know Rovio from top-spot.


iOS Boilerplate

This Github hosted collection of codes is the perfect copy&paste go-to link. It is intended to provide you with a base code to begin with, with which you can expand out to make any app you can dream of. It’s not a simple collection either, there are some very detailed applications that you can take advantage of: Geo location, Pull down to refresh functionality, a built in web-browser, JSON and Dictionary helpers… basically anything you need, its there.

Obviously, because it’s on github it is an open source project so don’t forget to give as much as you take!


iRate – Rate my App reminder

An unbelievably simple piece of code to set up, which makes use of the new iOS ARC feature (see below…), iRate allows you to add a “rate this app” reminder to any iOS development project you want. It’s as simple as importing the library and adding ONE line of code. Simple and it works brilliantly.


iOS5 itself: Storyboards & Transitions

If you want to get straight into iPhone and iPad development but don’t know much Objective C*, then Storyboards are the perfect jumping off point.

Using the brilliant Interface Builder, a newbie iOS developer can drag and drop elements into place, assigning click events to trigger transitions to different views. Labels can be edited and buttons can be placed.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of iOS development, but it is brilliant to see how much a developer with zero knowledge of Obby C can do.

Check this video out to see the power of the Storyboards.

*side note – I’m not saying that it is a good idea to make iPhone apps without knowledge of the language, I’m simply stating that it is possible…


iOS5 itself: ARC

Purists will argue against this being in the list – but in my opinion, ARC removes most of the headaches involved in developing, testing and maintaining iOS apps. ARC, very blandly, stands for “Automatic Reference Counting”, which in basic terms means that it handles all garbage collection & memory allocation for you. That’s right, no more “object = nil. [object release] etc…”, that is all done at compile time meaning you can focus on the more interesting parts of coding.

Because ARC is a relatively new feature of iOS development, there will be times when you want to use a library or snippet of code which has objects being released all over the show. Luckily, Apple have provided a way to disable ARC running for individual files. In my latest project, Social Break, I was able to use the CocosDenshion library, complete with crazy amounts of memory tweaking, alongside my ARC-overwatched codebase. It appears to have worked a treat.



Andy Girvan

Andy is a web and mobile developer who freelances for some of the worlds biggest companies on a variety of projects.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Useful App & Web Developer Startups - Andy Girvan - Freelance Web & Mobile Developer, London - HTML5/JS/CSS3 - PHP/MySQL - iOS | Andy Girvan

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