On Sunday, I submitted my first iPhone app to the Apple App Store. Named MicroPoints, it’s a pretty small, quick app that lets you convert various world currencies to Microsoft Points and back.
I posted about this on my Twitter a little bit, and am now thinking my actual process for building this thing would make a nice blog post.
So last year, I decided I was going to learn how to write iPhone apps. I already had a few neato ideas for some apps, but figured I’d better start really small since both Objective-C and Xcode were totally new to me.
At about the same time, I remember checking out Major Nelson’s blog for some new release on the Xbox Live Marketplace. When I saw the price of the release in Microsoft Points, and promptly shuddered at trying to convert the price to Aussie bucks, I started thinking, maybe it’d be cool to have an iPhone app that could do that for me.
I did a quick scan of the App Store to see if anyone had already done an app like this, and although I did find several apps, none of them really appealed to me enough to discourage me from doing this. So having found my niche, I decided to go ahead and build this app.
An app of this size probably should take more than 1 or 2 days to build normally. But because of the amount of time it took to learn how to use Xcode, familiarize myself with Obj-C code principles, and then finally learn how to write iPhone apps with the Cocoa framework… all while do other things as well, the whole thing took several months to take shape.
Originally, as a play on the concept of Microsoft Points being a kind of play money, I was intending to call this app ‘iFunBucks’. However, my good friend RedTechie was quick to point out that that is a truly horrific name for an app and I should change it at all costs.
MicroPoints is a much better name, as it is merely a contraction of Microsoft Points.
Building this app was certainly a very good experience, and I’ve learnt a TONNE on developing on the Mac now. I think it’s fair to say that us PC coders have been spoiled a little bit with Visual Studio. Programming on the Mac felt somewhat leaner and a bit more old skool haha. Xcode doesn’t really have a good equivalent of Intellisense, so you’ll find yourself looking up the Apple documentation a LOT.^_^;
Getting the app actually onto my iPhone was the hardest bit. Having to authenticate your Mac with a bunch of certificates and security keys is completely confusing…. but after a bit of persistance and a healthy amount of foul language, we managed to get it working in the end. My word of advice for this in future is to simply read the instructions on the Apple Developer site and follow them to the letter. Any deviation will usually result in fail.
Originally, I was thinking of making this a free app, but I thought that after all of the effort and polish I put into it, I’d like to try selling it and seeing how well it does. I’ve decided on setting the price at $0.99USD, so hopefully since this is so cheap it shouldn’t matter too much anyway. In comparison to the other Microsoft Points apps, I would like to think that you are paying for a higher quality and more intuitive and that this will also guarantee full support in the future as well.
So finally after all of the coding, and then spending a full week checking the code and graphics, I submitted it to the App Store on Sunday night. I received an email this morning saying it is currently under review, so fingers crossed!
I really enjoyed building MicroPoints. It was a nice project to ease into iPhone development, and I’m looking forward to building many more iPhone apps from here on.
If you’d like to learn more about MicroPoints, there is a project outline on it on the UberGames site.
- Published March 23, 2010
- Categories Development