Inventors Insider: How to Create an App for That

Resources and information for inventors and those aspiring to get a business idea to market

The iHeritage Guide is an iPhone app that helps tourists find locations that have historical relevance to African Americans.

Everywhere you look you hear people talking about apps, the abbreviated term for the software that runs on your smart phone and sometimes interacts with the Web or other applications. There is an app to help cooks choose the right serving size for a recipe, an app for traveling professionals trying to switch flights, and productivity apps for entrepreneurs who bill by the hour. Samuel Suraphel created the iHeritage Guide, an itunes app that interacts with the GPS app on a phone to help tourists identify the nearest museum, event, or building of historical or cultural significance to African Americans. There is an app for just about anything you can think of—or maybe not. Perhaps you’ve got an idea for an app that no one else has invented, but you have no idea how to get the app in people’s hands, or rather on their smart phones. This week on Inventors Insider, Suraphel gives ten quick and dirty steps to create an app for iPhone:

1)    Define the User Experience for the App. Determine the type of app you want to create. Does your app provide a convenient solution to a common problem? Is it a game, or based on a social networking site? Is it a tool that simply reformats your business’s web presence onto an iPhone? Figuring out the type of app you want to create will facilitate the development process.

2)   Decide how to monetize the app. “It depends on what your strategy is for the product,” says Suraphel, who also runs Beta Bahil, a new media/tech firm that helps companies in the African diaspora develop mobile apps, among other things. Do you want to charge a standard fee to download your app or will you install an ad engine? Perhaps this app is a test run and you plan to offer it for free so that you can get feedback for when you sell a more developed version. No matter what your initial intent, deciding the cost structure upfront will help you determine your audience and how the user will interface with the software.

3)   Create a storyboard for your app. Towards the beginning you need to get a rough idea of the user experience for your app. What will the interface look like? How will the screens interact with one another? From there you can determine what resources you will need for the development portion and graphics portion, and where you might place ads. The storyboard will help you decide whether you need to hire a software developer or handle it internally.

4)    Download the software development kit. You will need to obtain the SDK from apple. The SDK is free. You will also need to know a programming language called Objective C.

5)    Develop the App. Create the back end coding-aspect of the software and the front end user interface that involves more design elelments. If you’re not already doing web or app development you might want to source those software and graphics development skill sets by hiring a contractor or freelancer. You might also consider purchasing a template app and Content Management System from companies like MoFuse.

6)    Develop a content management system. If your app is content based and you are providing the data then you will need to build a CMS that hosts the data and interacts with the web. Alternatively you can integrate all of the data into the app itself.

7)   Obtain a developer’s license. To submit apps to Apple for their app store you need to purchase a $99 license that is renewed yearly.

8)    Get permission to use other vendors API. An application programming interface (API) facilitates interaction between different software programs. If your app can’t perform without another company’s software, then you need to contact the company for permission to use and obtain its API. For example, because iHeritage interacts with the GPS, Suraphel had to get permission to use the API for the phone’s GPS.

9)   Test your app. Make sure you’ve gotten rid of any bugs that will ruin the user-experience before you submit your app to Apple. Distribute the app to a limited number of iPhones for a beta launch. Also, to ensure approval from Apple, be certain that your content does not infringe on anyone’s copyrighted material, or include profane or violent content.

10)   Develop a marketing plan. If Apple approves your app, develop a marketing plan and create a community around it to get people to download and use it. Suraphel created a social networking presence for iHeritage on Facebook and Twitter to connect people with the content.

For more information about iPhone apps visit:

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