Ideas for mobile apps


So you want to make a mobile app, but you don’t know where to start?  There are a couple things that would will need to make a mobile app.  You will need (1) to know how to create a mobile app, and (2) an idea of what to make for your mobile app.

First, let’s start with how to make a mobile app.  If you already know how to make a mobile app, you can skip down to the section that says, “Second, let’s come up with an idea of what to make.”  If you do not know where to start, that all depends on what level you are at in programming.  I’ll start with the one extreme, where you know nothing about programming, and work my way to how to program for mobile devices.  If you already know some of this stuff, you can skim along until I catch up with your level of expertise.

If you know nothing about programming, then let’s start with a definition.  Programming a computer is giving a computer instructions on what you want it to do.  It’s the recipe to follow.  Let’s start with how to program a Windows computer, but similar concepts apply to Mac computers as well.  To tell a computer what to do, you can click on buttons, like the start button, then click on a program to run, like Microsoft Word.  You can open the File Explorer and move files around.  You can create directories, and you can rename files, etc.

Another way to do this is to type in commands at a DOS (Disk Operating System) prompt.  To bring this up, you can press Windows-R to run a command, then type cmd and press enter, to bring up the DOS Command (cmd) prompt. You should see a prompt that shows something like C:\>.  This is the current directory (“\” or root director, in this example, on the C drive, which is the first drive.  A and B were historically floppy disk drives, but are now no longer used.).

From DOS, you can type HELP to get a list of the commands you can tell the computer to do, such as COPY, to copy a file to another directory, DATE to get or set the date, DIR to get a directory listing of all the files, DEL to delete a file, REN or RENAME to rename a file, MOVE to move a file, ECHO to echo words to the screen, etc.

Type ECHO HELLO WORLD then press enter.  It should say HELLO WORLD back at you.  However, there are not a lot of commands that you can perform in DOS.  The web takes advantage of another programming language called JavaScript.  You can learn JavaScript by tutorials you can find by searching on Google, and probably YouTube as well.  One place that I’ve found that is great for learning JavaScript is  Just do what it says, and pretty soon you will be able to program in JavaScript!

Now if you want to do Mobile development, Android’s SDK (Software Development Kit) is based on Java (not to be confused with JavaScript), and Apple’s mobile platform is based on the C languages, specifically Objective-C.  You can either learn these languages and develop for these platforms specifically, or you can use a platform that you can develop to that will then port over to the different mobile platforms like Android, Apple, and Microsoft.

If you want to use one platform that works for all mobile apps,  here is a good article about some of these tools, including RhoMobile (based on Ruby, which you can learn at codecademy, as discussed above), PhoneGap (based on JavaScript and HTML), and Appcelerator, which is supported in HTML, PHP, JavaScript, Ruby and Python (PHP and Python can also be learned at codecademy).

Second, let’s come up with an idea of what to make.  You could start by seeing some sample code, and seeing what you can do, then branch out from there.  You could make a game.  You could start with an idea similar to one game, and branch out from there, or take two games and take aspects of each, or make your own new game from scratch.  You could find a program, and solve it with an app.  You could make an app that tracks things for you.  You could look at different hobbies, especially ones you are interested in, and make an app for that.  You could look at apps that are out there, and make one better, or make one that is missing.  You could create the app that you’ve wished was there but wasn’t.

Enjoy!  There are so many things that could be done!

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