How to turn a great idea into an iPhone app

Apple teen developers at WWDCAppleApple teen developers at WWDC

It happens in a moment of inspiration.

You get an idea for the next great app. Move over, Snapchat. Move over, Twitter. Move over, Instagram. This is going to be a big deal.

But there’s one thing you don’t know. How to get it from your head into the App Store, onto the 700 million iPhones Apple has sold, and onwards towards glory, fame, and venture capital funding.

Read on to find out how iPhone apps are made.

The first step is the most costly: A $99 annual enrollment into the Apple Developer Program, which entitles you to make apps for the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, plus Safari browser extensions.

Apple's developer program also lets you try the early preview versions of the next versions of iOS and the Mac OS, so you can make sure your app works with them.

Next, you need Xcode 7, Apple's development software, which is included in that $99 annual fee.

The bad news is that it's for Mac OS X only, making life difficult for Windows developers.

There's a reason a lot of iPhone apps look so similar: Apple designates guidelines for everything from which fonts to use, to how much negative space there should be, to what buttons should look like.

From the Apple iOS design guidelines.

Same for the Apple Watch, which is treated like an extension of an iPhone app.

From the Apple Watch Human Interface guidelines

Xcode makes it easy for developers to integrate other Apple services like iCloud, Apple Pay, or Handoff.

A worker demonstrates Apple Pay inside a mobile kiosk sponsored by Visa and Wells Fargo to demonstrate the new Apple Pay mobile payment system on October 20, 2014 in San Francisco City.

(Of course, there's nothing stopping you from also integrating services like Dropbox or Facebook Login.)

Facebook Anonymous login

If you don't know how to program, there are plenty of programmers out there that will make an app for you -- for a price.

Software like PhoneGap and Xamarin can let you program an app once and release it for Android and iOS at the same time, but you'll still need to be a member of the Apple Developer Program to get it on the App Store.

Xamarin's sales pitch is that you can write an app once and have it work anywhere.

No matter how it's done, the app will have to go up against Apple's famously strict App Store guidelines.

There are almost 200 reasons Apple could reject your app, ranging from too many crashes to showing obscene content (no sex or drugs) to providing illegal content (like pirated music or movies).

Just some of the many rules for submitting iPhone apps to the App Store.

If your apps make it through to the App Store, you can manage them through iTunes Connect, which lets you submit app updates.

Plus, iTunes Connect lets you see how your app is doing, tracking your downloads, usage, and in-app purchase revenue.

Not so bad, right? The hard part is coming up with that great idea.

Clinkle CEO and co-founder Lucas Duplan

Now check out some of Google's craziest ideas:

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