TUAW Bookshelf: Inside Secrets to an iPhone App

Many TUAW readers have probably bought an iPhone app and had the thought "I could do better than this!" go through their minds. Sometimes you're wondering when someone else is going to write an app to do just the thing you want to do with your iPhone or iPod touch.

Carla Kay White was one of these people. She had an idea for a "Gratitude Journal", where you keep track of the everyday things you're grateful for. It's a great concept, and it can keep your spirits up when a prescription antidepressant fails you. Carla was writing her gratitude into a paper journal when she realized that her iPhone was just the platform for this tool. One problem, though – Carla didn't have any iPhone programming skills.

What she did have was a good idea, a background in project management, and some minor funding to bring her concept to light on the iPhone. Inside Secrets to an iPhone App is a short (88 page) tome that not only tells the story of how she brought Gratitude Journal (click opens iTunes) to market, but how anyone with an idea for an iPhone app can do the same.

The subtitle for the ebook says it all -- "The essential non-developers guide to creating an iPhone app". One section of Carla's book that I felt was the most powerful was the section titled "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" Here Carla does a reality check for anyone who thinks that they're going to take an idea to the App Store and become the next Bill Gates overnight. She describes all of the hidden costs and foibles of becoming an iPhone developer. This is something that all potential developers should read.

Inside Secrets to an iPhone App is an extremely fast read, written from the viewpoint of someone who has gone through all of the heartache and thrills that all would-be iPhone developers experience. There are some minor typos and grammatical errors that should be corrected, but they don't subtract from the overall value of the text.

As an author for the TidBITS Take Control series of ebooks, my personal opinion is that this book is slightly overpriced at $13.99. But, being the value-oriented person that Carla is, she also throws in two other books as a bonus – "Interviews with the Best", which consists of interviews with the developers of best-selling iPhone apps like Classics, WeightBot, and Koi Pond (clicks open iTunes), and "How to Successfully Promote Your App". The latter book thoughtfully covers the topic of promoting your app on a shoestring budget.

Gratitude Journal is still doing well in the App Store, and Carla has even been approached by Apple about using it in one of the "There's an app for that" ads. I'm pretty sure Carla's waiting for some clever TUAW reader to come up with the next great app for her iPhone!