What makes a “good” iOS App?

This post is part of a lesson in Udacity’s iOS Nanodegree that I’m currently taking. The lesson asks us to reflect on what we makes iOS apps “good.”

Having owned and iPhone for the past 7 years or so, and having programmed iOS apps for the last 4 years, I believe that I have a pretty good idea of what makes an iOS app great. In the most general sense, a great iOS app should have these four characteristics:

1. The app is super user-friendly to the point where a brand new iPhone user can figure out how to use it, even if this is the first app ever they’ve ever opened.

This is very important. App developers, spending so much time in the iOS ecosystem, tend to have a deeper understanding of apps and therefore might be biased as to what makes an app “easy” to use. Something seemingly simple to them (i.e. gestures such as press and hold) might be quite complex to the average user.

2. The app takes advantage and is mindful of the screen real estate of the device it is running on.

Whether an app’s main purpose is for the consumption of information or for productive purposes, developers need to be mindful of screen size. Since a smartphone’s screen is much smaller than a computer’s, it is important to show only necessary and vital information. Too much information and UI elements in one view can cause confusion and frustration. You don’t want this, since a tiny hint of frustration could easily cause your app to be deleted and replaced!

3. The app is useful.

This is a very broad statement, but it is accurate. With millions of people owning a smartphone, there are bound to be many definitions of usefulness. So to be succinct, an app should be useful to at least a small group of people; a niche, if you will. Some of the biggest and most valuable apps today started as niche apps.

4.  The app’s design is attractive.

First impressions are everything, especially when you’re competing with millions of other apps, a few of which probably have the same exact functions as yours. One way apps distinguish themselves is through design. Great design can lead to a better user experience, which can then lead to users converting their friends to users.

The above are just some quick thoughts I have on what makes an iOS app great. They are to be taken as a whole, and never focus on just one individually. They must all be considered when brainstorming a new, wonderful app to create.