What Does an iOS Developer Do? (With Other FAQ Answered)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

iOS developers are in demand, earn competitive salaries and have the opportunity to do creatively challenging work in a broad range of projects. People with competent programming skills and the experience of working in the iOS environment are a great fit for this job. If you are interested in becoming one, you may have some questions about the role. In this article, we answer "What does an iOS develop do?" along with other questions about this job, its career prospects, the responsibilities involved and the skills a successful iOS developer needs.

Related: What Is a Full Stack Developer? Benefits and Career Advice

What does an iOS developer do?

As an iOS developer, your primary duty is to design, develop and maintain applications for products that feature this operating system. This includes iPhones, iPod Touch devices and iPads running the closely related iPadOS. Depending on your role within a team or as a freelancer, your responsibilities fall under the application life cycle from concept to design, testing and bug tracking and launch and support.

Your daily tasks may include:

  • developing native SDKs (Software Development Kits) on the iOS platform

  • writing clean, efficient code for iOS and iPadOS apps within deadlines

  • testing and troubleshooting to ensure that code is bug-free

  • ensuring that apps perform well and are responsive and high quality

  • identifying and eliminating bottlenecks within applications

  • working with teams that include UX designers, back-end engineers and product managers

  • keeping yourself up-to-date on iOS updates and new product models

  • recommending changes and tweaks to apps in development

Related: What Is a Web Application? Definition and How It Works

Why become an iOS developer?

This role has its advantages and difficulties, such as developing the skills required. Although, you may find that the benefits outweigh the challenges for you. Check the following list to see if this job suits you:

  • Better earning potential: iOS apps have a smaller market share than their Android competition, but iOS developers make more than their Android-focused peers. iOS products are more popular among high-spending individuals who are more likely to pay for premium apps and subscriptions.

  • Better exposure: The number of iOS apps is significantly lower than the number of Android apps, which means the apps you create are more likely to be viewed, installed and used.

  • No fragmentation issues: With iOS, there are limited processes, screen sizes and memory capacities. Dealing with a single device manufacturer means it is easier to ensure that your app is customised to run efficiently on all the devices that can run it.

What are the technical skills an iOS developer needs?

When working within an iOS environment, there are several tools and platforms to help you create apps. Most effective iOS developers get familiar with two specific areas, namely Swift and the iOS platform itself. Including these two, the following are the essential technical skills every iOS developer needs:

Swift

This is the programming language developed by the iOS device manufacturer specifically for developing apps. You can also use languages like Java or platforms like Angular (part of the MEAN stack). If you intend to work within the iOS environment, though, Swift is a great skill to have.

When learning Swift, the smart decision is to start with the basics of the Swift platform, move on to more advanced concepts and only then start with the iOS platform itself. Trying to master both at the same time may get confusing. The following list shows a simple order of learning the various aspects of Swift. You can follow it as is or use it for inspiration to create your own study path:

  1. Foundational concepts: Learn how variables, strings, operators and numbers are used.

  2. Collections: This includes dictionaries and arrays.

  3. Control statements: Find out how to use statements like if-else, for/while loops and switch statements.

  4. Types and interfaces: Learn functions, protocols, extensions, structures and enumerations.

  5. Advanced concepts: Learn object-oriented programming concepts, like inheritance, classes and polymorphism.

iOS

You can choose to use Swift or another programming language to create your apps. Either way, an essential skill for every iOS developer is to learn the various design patterns, frameworks and other technology that are part of the iOS platform. As with Swift, it is advisable to start with the fundamentals of iOS and then work your way towards more complex concepts.

When learning this operating system, the following areas are good starting points for an iOS developer:

  • Xcode: This is the integrated development environment (or IDE) where you develop iOS apps. Note that you need a computer running macOS to work with Xcode.

  • Interface Builder: This tool lets you create interfaces for iOS apps using a graphical user interface (GUI).

Within the user interface, get familiar with the following features:

  • Auto layout: This lets you build user interfaces for different screen sizes.

  • Table views: Use this feature to build long-scrolling lists in iOS.

  • Containers: This is where you create the screen navigation flow of your app.

  • Storyboards: Once you create your navigation flow, you can customise and organise it using storyboards.

Data exchange

Networking (referring to data exchange, not socialising) skills are important to an iOS developer. Learn how to use object notation within JavaScript and core data. Core data is the framework for data stored persistently on a device, not data being transmitted over the network. Get familiar with APIs, like Grand Central Dispatch, which enables your application to run multiple operations all at the same time (concurrency).

Git and GitHub

These help you maintain version control, which is very important for all your software development work. Git and GitHub give you control over the distributed version of your application and help you manage your source code as well. Whether you work on a long-term or short project, these tools are especially essential for teams of iOS developers working on a project.

Spatial reasoning

Spatial reasoning is your ability to visualise spatial (three-dimensional) relations between objects. When you design an app for multiple iOS devices, spatial reasoning is your understanding of how users may use it differently according to their device. You can master this skill through active learning and building real projects. When you work on spatial reasoning, read about the design approaches of UX designers.

Other technical skills

Aside from crucial skills like Swift and iOS, here is a list of other technical skills you may find helpful:

  • objective-C, C, C++

  • core animation

  • offline storage, threading, and performance tuning

  • low-level C-based libraries

  • performance and memory tuning tools like Instruments and Shark

  • code versioning tools like Git, Mercurial and SVN

  • RESTful APIs to connect iOS applications to back-end services (also called REST APIs)

  • layout design

  • UI/UX design

  • information hierarchy

  • design guidelines and human interface guidelines from the iOS device manufacturer (a specific set of properties all iOS apps are expected to adhere to)

  • cloud platforms like AWS, Azure and GCP

In a more senior position, your responsibilities may change. Skills like the following may become relevant and useful to your work:

  • concurrency

  • software architecture

  • user testing

  • animation deployment

  • reactive programming

What are the soft skills an iOS developer needs?

Often, you may work within teams that feature other engineers and developers working on various elements of the app infrastructure. This list describes the essential soft skills every iOS developer needs:

  • Organisation and time management: Keep track of the activities on your to-do list. You may be working on different projects, with multiple deadlines on various tasks.

  • Communication: You may work with teams, so use skills like diplomacy, patience and clear communication to help get things done smoothly and within expected deadlines. Learn to communicate with other departments through channels like email, Slack and face-to-face conversations.

  • Constant learning: Stay aware of any trends, changes and updates in the iOS environment. Dedicate time to read through news apps, official social media accounts and interactions with your peers.

Related: Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples

What is the educational qualification an iOS developer needs?

Often, companies looking to hire an iOS developer expect you to have an undergraduate degree in computer science, IT or a related discipline. Usually, your knowledge, skills and experience with iOS app development matter more than your educational qualifications. If apps you have created are currently rated well on the App Store or GitHub, a recruiter might be willing to ignore that your degree is in an unrelated field.

How much do iOS developers make?

On average, the average salary of an iOS developer is ₹25,762 per month. iOS developers work in different levels, organisations and geographies. You might work as part of an in-house team, within an app development business or as an independent contractor. All these factors influence your pay. For instance, you can earn much more working as an iOS developer in Hyderabad or Bengaluru than in other cities like Pune or Indore.

How many hours do iOS developers work in a week?

Generally, you can expect to spend around 40 hours each week working at an office. Some companies may offer work from home opportunities, which could mean flexible hours. If a deadline comes up, such as an app launch, you may work over 60 hours. This is also true when an emergency occurs, such as a major crashing issue.

Salary‌ ‌figures‌ ‌reflect‌ ‌data‌ ‌listed‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌quoted‌ ‌websites‌ ‌at‌ ‌time‌ ‌of‌ ‌writing.‌ ‌Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌vary‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ ‌background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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