Few days ago I released my first iOS app, it’s a cat petting simulator called “CatMe”
. It’s already available on
app store (UPDATE: unfortunately I didn’t renew my Apple Developer account so the app is no longer available), but
I wanted to share few thoughts about building it.
I started writing the app back in 2014., for me it was just a way to learn Swift and native iOS development. I wanted to build an example app which is simple but still unique and fun enough to get approved for the app store. The plan was to just build an application with pictures of cats, which seemed awesome enough by itself. However after I built a prototype the cat was so cute that I wanted to pet it through screen, so that’s how I got the idea for the final version of the app.
I stopped developing it after a week because I couldn’t find high-quality royalty-free pictures of cats (trust me, it’s harder than you think). However after I got a lot of positive feedback in following months, I decided to start working on it again. Vanessa helped me to finally find some good cat photos and she also designed this awesome icon.
Before I started learning native iOS development I had a few ventures into hybrid application development. I didn’t work on any serious projects, but I spent some time reading tutorials and attempting to write apps in various JS frameworks and I didn’t really like it. It just felt wrong and required a lot of hacks to get a mobile app feel.
Native app development felt really refreshing, all basic components were there. You don’t need to download some obscure third party slider that works well on touch devices - there’s a cocoa touch component for that - and it’s easier to use. I really love the snappy feel of sliders on touch devices. (That’s one of the main reasons I started learning iOS app development. :D)
It turns out that the web and mobile app development are quite different and using tools that were meant to be used for mobile app development makes things easier, and not harder as some may try to convince you. The only reason I see for building hybrid mobile applications is laziness to learn new toolchain and language. Oh yeah, and cross-platform development, even though if you really want to build a high-quality experience you should build multiple apps anyway.
I like Swift as a language, it’s definitely more friendly to newcomers then Objective-C. It feels modern and reliable, and it integrates with Objective-C quite well.
One thing I didn’t really like is Storyboards. They are not bad, but there are some issues. One thing is that they are huge and take up a lot of space, even on a 24” screen. I can’t even imagine trying to use them on my 15” laptop screen. To make things worse zooming in and out of them is really weird and/or glitchy. Another problem is that they are a bit magical. You can build things without fully understanding what’s going on behind the scene, which is nice when you just try get something done, but I bet it would become a problem in the long run.
Fortunately, you can build a complete application without using Storyboards (or Interface builder) by just using Cocoa API. And to make things even better, it’s considered best practice.
People are reacting really well to the application so far. Some of them find it hilarious, some even think that it’s a critique of the current state of App store, but all agree that the world needs more cats in every aspect of our lives.