iPhone and iPad

So You Want To Make iPhone Apps? 10 Projects For Beginners

Dann Albright 15-12-2016

If you want to try your hand at creating iPhone apps, there are a few different programming languages How To Pick A Programming Language To Learn Today & Get A Great Job In 2 Years It can take years of dedicated work to become a truly good programmer; so is there a way to choose the right language to start from today, in order to get hired tomorrow? Read More you can learn. But only one of them was created specifically for iOS: Swift. Apple built this language from the ground up for making macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS apps. And it includes a number of features that make it great for beginning programmers.


If you want to try learning and coding with Swift, the best way to do it is through a project. You can read specs all day, but actually using the language to build an app is the most effective way to learn. These projects will help you get started and teach you some really useful skills along the way.

Getting Acquainted with Swift

Swift borrows ideas from a wide range of other programming languages, but is most similar to Objective-C. In fact, you can mix Swift and Objective-C in your code, and your apps will still work. However, Swift was designed to be concise, making it a bit easier to learn and more efficient to use. It’s also harder to derail with coding mistakes, another factor that makes it good for beginners.


For the tutorials listed below, it’s good to have some basic programming knowledge The Basics Of Computer Programming 101 - Variables And DataTypes Having introduced and talked a little about Object Oriented Programming before and where its namesake comes from, I thought it's time we go through the absolute basics of programming in a non-language specific way. This... Read More , but very little is necessary. You can read Apple’s introduction to Swift if you’d like to get the basics down before you get started. But you can also jump right in and you shouldn’t have much trouble.

What You’ll Need

To get started, you’ll need a Mac with the latest version of Xcode and Swift. You’ll also want the iOS SDK. Beyond that, all you need is some patience and a willingness to learn!


Walk Through the Basics

Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app turns your iPad into a great place to learn to code! No coding knowledge is necessary to get started; even kids can learn to code 10 Tools To Get Kids Excited About Programming For the average kid, computers and smartphones are fun tools. Education comes much later. Getting a kid excited about programming might take some doing because logic needs a bit of time to develop. It is... Read More with this app. Challenges, templates, live code previews, and Quick Type suggestions make this a great way to get up and running fast. The 3D world is a lot more compelling than looking at a text document, too. And it’s free! This is definitely the best place to get started if you have little or no coding experience.

Build an Image Viewer


This sounds complicated, but it’s meant to be a beginner-friendly tutorial, and Hacking with Swift is great about including a ton of detail to help you understand what you’re doing. The tutorial leads you through loading images, designing an interface, and everything else you’ll need to know. Because it’s designed for beginners, it starts at the very beginning, with how to open a new project in Xcode.

Fire Up a Stopwatch



A stopwatch doesn’t sound very exciting, but this tutorial is great for Swift beginners. It’s also built for iOS 10, so you’ll get to see the latest features of Xcode and Swift. In addition to Swift code, you’ll also get a good dose of using Xcode’s visual tools. These can be invaluable in learning to code and are a huge benefit of using Swift.

Touch and Drag Shapes


Whether you want to built regular apps or games, it’s a good idea to understand how manual interactions with your app will work. This is a very simple tutorial that displays a screen full of colored squares. Each square can be dragged by touching the screen. That’s all there is to it. But you’ll see some of the functions required for this type of action, and that’s going to come in handy when you’re developing your own app.

Build A Tetris Clone with Swiftris



This tutorial from Bloc will help you use Swift to build a version of Tetris 30 Years Of Tetris: A History Of The World's Most Beloved Puzzle Game This year, 2014, marks the 30th birthday of Tetris. In remembrance of its history, join me as I explore the past and future of the world's most famous puzzle game. Read More . It’s more involved than the previous projects, and there are a few places where the code isn’t explained quite as clearly as it could be. However, all of the materials required are given to you in this tutorial, and the inclusion of screenshots and videos makes it easy to follow. And be assured that, although you have to enter your email address to get access, the whole thing is actually free.

Play War


Chris Ching has put together a 15-part series that will take you from the very basics, like an introduction to Xcode playgrounds, all the way through creating an app that lets you play the card game War. By the end of the series, you’ll understand a lot of programming concepts, some of the unique things you need to know about working with touch interfaces, and how to use images in an iPhone app. (Scroll down to the bottom of the linked page to get to the tutorials.)

Make a Ninja Game



This is the most complicated tutorial here, but you’ll be glad you went through it. The game uses SpriteKit, a 2D game-building toolkit that’s used for many iOS games. With the kit, you’ll use assets, create actions, and establish win and lose conditions. It’s pretty complicated, but explained well. If you’re feeling confident, go ahead and build your own game!

Identify Your User [No Longer Available]


TouchID is one of the really cool things that comes packed with every new iPhone. Many apps are secured by TouchID (it’s especially useful in mobile banking apps Could Your Mobile Banking App Be a Big Security Risk? Mobile banking apps bring convenience to your phone, but could they be a security risk? Banks tend to have pretty solid data security, but how secure are their mobile apps? Read More ) and learning how to take advantage of it can save your users a lot of time when it comes to entering usernames and passwords. This tutorial shows you how to check for TouchID compatibility, authenticate your user, and offer a password screen if they fail.

Make a Digital Scale


3D Touch Everything You Can Do With 3D Touch on Your iPhone 3D touch is really just a fancy name for a pressure-sensitive screen, but adds a whole array of extra input options to iOS. Read More is another cool feature of iOS devices, and Swift makes it really easy to include it in your apps. This tutorial will walk you through creating a simple digital scale that will display the amount of pressure the user is putting on the screen. The app can also be used to actually weigh things, which is pretty cool!

Enable Push Notifications


You may find push notifications annoying, but there are some apps that make great use of them. If you want to learn how to use push notifications in your own app, you’ll have to learn about creating your app ID and enabling those notifications for it. It’s a bit of a roundabout process, but going through this step-by-step tutorial makes it much easier. This is a long tutorial, and a lot of it is administrative stuff that’s not very exciting. But if you’re serious about developing your own app, it’s full of important things you’ll need to know.

Go Learn Some Swift!

These tutorials will give you a solid understanding of how to use Swift, and they’ll help you create some real apps along the way. Remember to read the comments for each one if you come across a problem, as others have probably dealt with it, too. And above all, have fun with it! Programming can be tough 6 Signs That You Are Not Meant to Be a Programmer Not everyone is cut out to be a programmer. If you aren't completely sure that you're meant to be a programmer, here are some signs that may point you in the right direction. Read More , but learning through examples like these should be enjoyable.

Swift not your thing? You can learn to develop apps for Android So, You Want To Develop Android Apps? Here's How To Learn After so many years, one would think that the mobile market is now saturated with every app imaginable to man - but that's not the case. There are plenty of niches that still need to... Read More  instead.

Have you learned to use Swift? Were there any specific tutorials that you found to be useful? Share your favorites in the comments below!

Related topics: App Development, Programming, Swift.

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  1. Been Sand
    March 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Hello there,

    Well written post and well described as well. I am an iOS app developer and have developed more than 50 apps till today which are successfully run on Apple Store.

    I have tried various mobile app development platform to develop apps such
    as Phonegap, Telerik, Configure.IT, Cordova etc. As per my experience, Configure.IT, a complete mobile app development platform is the best among all.

    This tool provides automatic coding, app preview facility, one click API
    connect and many more features as well. Visit the website, you will get
    all the ideas about this tool. It's available at free of cost which is
    the best thing. :)

    • Dann Albright
      March 15, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience! I hadn't heard of Configure.IT, but it sounds like a really good option for app development. Maybe I'll have to check it out.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Tanisha LeDoux
      March 23, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Hello, I have recently been looking into ways to make my app idea take off, but I need a little help starting things off. Would u be willing to email me and kind of walk me through the idea?

  2. victor
    January 25, 2015 at 12:23 am

    i try mobidonia.com and it was super easy it took me 15 minutes to make my app

    • Dann Albright
      January 26, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      I've never heard of that one . . . how does it compare to the sites above? What's involved?

  3. Venus Vavadiya
    December 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I have a Ubuntu 14.04 Linux pc, can I still develop apps using OS X Yosemite using virtual machine?
    Thanks in advance...

    • Dann Albright
      December 29, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      While I don't have any experience in doing this, I don't see why not. Give it a go and let us know how it turns out!

  4. Venus Vavadiya
    December 23, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks.. It will help me a lot... :)

    • Dann Albright
      December 29, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      I'm glad you found this helpful! Thanks for reading!

  5. Akshay
    December 22, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks ! I hope someones comes up with something good.
    I do have Snow Leopard on my VMware, I tried to learn the old programming language. But then Swift came along.

  6. Akshay
    December 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I really want to learn Swift. But, I don't own a Mac, I have win7.

    I tried installing Maverick on VMware as a Virtual Machine but it is too much for my laptop to handle.


    • Dann Albright
      December 22, 2014 at 8:34 am

      I did a bit of research on your question, and I didn't come up with much. A number of people suggested trying to get your hands on a second-hand Mac. Beyond that, I don't have many suggestions . . . looking for an online tutorial (like the ones they have at Codeschool) for Swift might be a good way to go. I'm not aware of any at the moment, but I would imagine that they'll be appearing soon.

      Hopefully someone else can chime in with something more helpful!

  7. Myke Robinson
    December 19, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    i tried to learn swift, i thought it wouldn't take long but i was wrong, but patience is key

    • Dann Albright
      December 20, 2014 at 10:47 am

      I'm glad that you found it easier than you expected! Yes, patience is key—that's true of learning any language. Any skill, really. Keep at it!

  8. DonGateley
    December 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    "Why not try learning Swift, the language that will let you create iPhone and iPad apps?"

    Because Windows, Android, Linux and Windows Phone.

    With C# and the Xamarin development framework all are covered, including iOS and OSX, with the seeming exception of Linux. Cross platform apps become a real possibility.

    I don't mean to criticize your excellent article, just throw out a comprehensive alternative.

    The C#/Xamarin combo deserves some serious attention from MakeUseOf.

    • Anonymous
      December 19, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      Sorry but Xamarin can not match up to native development.

      Keep drinking that C# cool aid.......

    • Dann Albright
      December 20, 2014 at 10:45 am

      Yes, you certainly could learn another language to create apps for other platforms . . . but the article, as made clear by the title, is about learning how to make iPhone apps. And Swift is best for that. Also, because of the fantastic resources that are available for Swift, it serves as a good introduction to programming, from which you could jump to another language if you wanted to.

      I'm not disagreeing with you—you certainly could learn another language to make iPhone apps. Swift is just (in my opinion) the best option.