August 11

Creating a Free iPhone App: The Story


The thought of having a passive income stream excited me the moment I heard about it. The idea of producing something that provides you with an income by having your money work for you puts the idea of working for your money to shame. Currently, my only source of income is from bartending, and I spend roughly 30 hours a week doing it. If something were to happen to this job, I would have no income and this would be bad. I consider working one job a form of putting all your eggs in one basket. I would much rather put my time into creating something that brings in passive income revenue and once it’s going move on to create a new project that would create an additional stream of income. These multiple streams of passive income eliminate carrying all my eggs in one basket and would free me up considerably. This is not a novel idea, but it’s a path I would much rather take over working to increase a paycheck for the rest of my life.

Enter the App store. Creating a successful or even semi-successful app is a great way to bring in passive income. Angry birds is an ultra-successful app that was projected to earn over $1 million per month at the end of 2010 on the android market alone…impressive. An app that successful is unrealistic for me at this moment so my goal is not to hit a grand slam but instead just hit 4 base hits and create 3 to 5 semi-successful apps that target niche markets and bring in $1000 per month, collectively. As of a few days ago, the first iPhone app I was a part of hit the app store. It was a struggle. Here is what went into building a simple app.

What we needed before starting:

  • An app idea
  • An apple computer
  • An iPhone/iPad depending on what you’re developing an app for.
  • Apple Developer Account ($99 per year) note: you don’t need this to create apps but if you want to actually make your app available on the app store, you need it.
  • A copy of xCode
    to program in note: free with an Apple developer account or $5 without a developer account.
  • Knowledge of how to code in Objective C, Apple’s coding language
  • Graphic design abilities
  • Business and internet marketing ideas

It is possible to get an app on the app store with none of the above list (minus the app idea). You will just have to outsource what you don’t have and expect to pay money for it. Guru and elance are two good websites to find people with these skills.

My knowledge of how to code in Objective C is at a staggering 0%, but that is where my partner excels in this whole experience and together we possess everything listed above. Our plan was succinct: create a simple app to explore the intricacies of the app submission process (turns out it’s not as simple as uploading and clicking submit), and then get people to download it.

The idea was basic: get the phone to emit a high frequency noise and then emit this noise at random times. We named it iTorturer and branded it as an app for annoying people without them knowing where the sound emanates.

Next, we went through the stages of app creation:

  • App design stage– coding and graphic design
  • Development stage – testing stage where you can put your app onto select devices to test how they run on an actual iPhone/iPad and not just the simulator that comes with xCode
  • Distribution stage – submitting your app to Apple for review to be placed on the app store

The distribution stage was by far the most frustrating and time consuming aspect of the process. My experience with Apple is one that invokes thoughts of user friendly operation; they are the company that invented a phone with a single button, after all. I expected a minimal, beautifuly designed submission page where I could effortlessly upload my app. Nope. There are both Development and Distribution profiles and each profile has specific certificates that must be assigned to specific users that must be downloaded and activated within xCode for the app to be tested and distributed. So when testing the app during the development phase, I use different profiles with different certificates than when I’m in the distribution stage. Fuck. It is a very confusing process when you’re going through it the first time (took a good 10+ hours of frustration) and I’m still not completely sure how we managed to get all the certificates organized properly. Apple has how-to resources to help with confusion but they were only semi-helpful as they were written for an older version of xCode. Fuck. Clearing the certificate obstacle only leads you to the final hurdle in the process: app review. Upon submission, we then waited around 1 week for our app to get reviewed. We were denied, along with around 90% of every other app that gets submitted for the first time. However, they are kind enough to give you a reason for rejection and ours was: your app serves no purpose. Fuck. So a “tips” and “about” page were added and we re-submitted and waited another week…app accepted. Fuck Yes. The app is available for free download on the app store!


Sorry it has been so long since my last blog post but I’m currently on a mad dash to get my thesis finished. In late June I decided to give up drinking alcoholic beverages of any kind until my thesis is done, I even have a $100 dollar bet with a friend who thinks I won’t be able to last that long without drinking. The thesis is coming along nicely and should be done in September. Not drinking has been an interesting experience in itself and one that will probably be a topic of a future post. Other topics on the horizon include: flexibility and fitness, minimalism, and preparing for cheap long-term travel, so stay tuned 🙂

Live Gratefully,



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