Journey to the Apple Design Award: My first App

First things first, When I started this journey 5 years back, I had no contacts, zero experience selling software, no college degree in programming or UI/UX designing. The only assets I had was – a MacBook Pro, an iPhone and some desire to create beautiful apps. Today people across 150+ countries use my apps, and I just received an Apple Design Award. Thanks to Apple’s AppStore and a huge shout out to the Apple community for being passionate, inspiring and helpful.

Ever since I received the Apple Design Award, a lot of people in the media titled my journey as “How a small town guy with no college education on programming or designing went on to win an Apple Design Award.” Since then I have been bombarded with “How did you get started?”. This blog post is an answer to that.

So here it is, How it all started in 2012…

Caution: I am not sure if this is the “right” way to create your first app. I am just sharing my story.

The decision to develop apps happened after I bought my first iPhone. Before that, I was using a Nokia N91 (a Symbian smartphone). That jump from Nokia N91 to iPhone was so huge for me. I immediately fell for its sleek design, “rubber band” scrolling, intuitive multitouch user interface and its simplicity of use. I could see how the iPhone and its apps are changing my day to day life. All those apps are so easy to use and beautifully designed. Here are some of those beautiful apps that I drooled over…

When I searched for how these apps were made, I discovered that anybody could enroll into the Apple Developer Program for 99 dollars and start distributing their apps to people around the world. That looked so simple and very easy to start – so I chose to get into this process of creating an app and distributing it through AppStore.

Before getting to know anything about app designing or programming, I worked on the concept of the app I wanted to make. I wanted a discount calculator. So I designed a rough sketch of how it should look. Here are these after a lot of iterations.

Then when I needed to start the programming part, I chose to begin by understanding how computer and programming work. My search led to this free pdf book named “How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python.” When I was reading that book, I couldn’t fully understand a lot of things like classes, Inheritance, object-oriented programming, etc., but I could easily relate a few things to the app I wanted to incorporate like I should get input price as “float” type, then calculate them using a function and save those data as “string” like that. That book helped me to understand the very basics.

After that, I went to Apple’s documentation website. It had a section titled something like “Writing your first app in Xcode.” That helped me to figure out the basics of Xcode interface. Then I read a few objective c basic tutorials and started developing my app. Whenever I got stuck, I would search online and try to figure it out. It took some time to finish my first app.

Finally, the app was released as “Shop Easy” (Now renamed to “Pick”). Here is how it looked when I released the app on September 24th, 2012.

I will write about post-release learning in the next blog post.

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