Roundup of App Development (iOS 9/Swift 2) Learning Resources

A little more than a week ago, I set out a challenge for myself to learn iOS app development and make $5000 in six months. To achieve my goal, I wanted to choose the best resource to learn iOS 9 app development and Swift 2 from. As Apple is known to introduce breaking changes every time they release something, I wanted the resource that I chose to be as up to date as possible. So, my list only includes resources teaching iOS 9, Swift 2, and Xcode 7.

Before we begin, if you just want to find out what the best resources are, here you go:

  1. iOS Apprentice Series (4th edition)
    (Score: 4.5/5)
  2. iOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (5th edition)
    (Score: 4/5)
  3. iOS 9 Fundamentals by Pluralsight
    (Score: 3.5/5)

With that out of the way, if you are still with me, let’s begin.

8. Programming for Non-Programmers: iOS 9 and Swift by

Score: 1/5
Price: $24.99 per month ( Basic Plan, free 10-day trial available)
Prerequisites: None.

This course by Todd Perkins is aimed at complete beginners to programming.

Pros: Not much I can think of.

Cons: My opinion is that the course is very cluttered. From the beginning, it tries to teach stuff that a complete beginner wouldn’t need like changing font colors and font sizes in Xcode. Todd spends way too much time trying to explain things conceptually, instead of guiding the viewers to try things on their own right away. I wouldn’t recommend this course to anyone.

7. iOS 9 App Development Essentials: Learn to Develop iOS 9 Apps Using Xcode 7 and Swift 2

Score: 2/5
Link: (Kindle), (Paperback)
Price: $9.99 (Kindle), $35.99 (Paperback)
Prerequisites: None.

This independently published book by Neil Smyth intents to teach you both the fundamentals of iOS app development, and some of the advanced techniques.

Pros: A certain effort was obviously put into covering a lot of information.

Cons: The book felt extremely wordy to me, it was pretty clear that it didn’t go through professional editing (or at least a keen eye). It tries to cover a lot (which is a con and a pro), and for an essentials book I would like to be able to use what I’m being taught immediately. It provides a lot of information, just for the sake of providing it. Doesn’t really have a well-thought out structure.

6. iOS 9 Programming Fundamentals with Swift & Programming iOS 9

Score: 2.5/5
Link: (First book, Kindle), (First book, paperback), (Second book, Kindle), (Second book, paperback)
Price: $24.99 (First book, Kindle), $47.49 (First book, paperback),
$27.49 (Second book, Kindle), $44.38 (Second book, paperback)
Prerequisites: Some programming experience.

These two book series are classic O’Reilly books. They cover an immense amount of information.

Pros: The books cover a lot of information, might be good as reference books.

Cons: In my opinion, the fact that the books try to cover too much is also a negative point, considering that O’Reilly is not marketing them mainly as reference books. The author talks about the books being “pedagogically helpful and instructive,” but I would respectfully disagree. They are unnecessarily detailed (again, which would be good if they were reference books). I would only suggest these books if you are obsessed with learning all the ins and outs before creating anything on your own. Otherwise, at the very least don’t make these your first books.

5. Sams Teach Yourself iOS 9 Application Development in 24 Hours

Score: 2.5/5
Link: (Kindle), (Paperback)
Price: $19.79 (Kindle), $35.79 (Paperback)
Prerequisites: None.

SAMS Teach Yourself books get a bad name, thanks to an article by Peter Norvig (which by the way, I agree with almost entirely, but I don’t think the Teach Yourself series are to blame at all).

Pros: This book will be familiar to anyone who read a “SAMS Teach Yourself” book. It aims to give you an introduction to iOS development in 24 nicely arranged chapters.

Cons: Even though, I generally like SAMS Teach Yourself books, I wasn’t very happy with this one. The order in which things are taught didn’t make much sense to me (like explaining provisioning profiles before writing a single line of code). It tries to teach things ahead of time, before you actually need them. This is not a good way to help you retain the information.

4. Hacking with Swift

Score: 3/5
Price: Free (online version), $30+ (offline version)
Prerequisites: Some programming experience.

This website by Paul Hudson aims to teach you iOS app development and Swift through 30+ hands-on projects.

Pros: Covers a lot of topics. Paul, obviously spent a lot of time putting these together, and he is trying to help people in the comments.

Cons: I was really excited when I read the introduction. Paul was talking about how he wanted to teach things on a “need-to-know basis,” and I really liked the fact that every chapter was a new project. But I was eventually disappointed. The course doesn’t really have much of a direction, it just touches every topic. Paul loves starting with a complicated template, and then asking you to remove half of it, and adding seemingly random things to it (from the perspective of a beginner) telling you not to worry how it works. This ended up completely confusing me. By the eleventh project, we were developing a game using SpriteKit, while I felt I haven’t even really understood the basics of UIKit.

3. iOS 9 Fundamentals by Pluralsight

Score: 3.5/5
Price: $29 per month (Pluralsight Standard Subscription, you can get a six-month free trial from this link)
Prerequisites: Some programming experience.

Pluralsight’s iOS 9 Fundamentals is a very nicely structured video course. It starts with a short intro to iOS development and Xcode 7, and then it shows you the basics of the Swift language. The latter was definitely my favorite part, and a very good introduction to the language. After these two modules, the instructor, Simon Allardice develops a simple to-do list app while teaching iOS development and Swift concepts.

Pros: The course is definitely something you can go through in a day. Simon is very very good at explaining the fundamental concepts (I’ll be looking forward to seeing more content from him on Pluralsight).

Cons: Unfortunately, other than copying Simon’s steps on your own, there is not much interaction going on. It is not a comprehensive course (and it’s not trying to be), so I would recommend it only if you are looking for a quick introduction to iOS app development.

2. iOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (5th Edition)

Score: 4/5
Link: (Kindle), (Paperback)
Price: $23.49 (Kindle), $41.64 (Paperback)
Prerequisites: Some programming experience, familiarity with OOP.

The Big Nerd Ranch Guide is one of the most recommended books for iOS development. It is based on BNR’s iOS bootcamp course materials, and the book’s success has stood the test of time.

Pros: Very nicely structured and nicely paced, keeping teaching objectives in mind. Teaches concepts on a need-to-know basis. Has some challenges in the end of most chapters. In the beginning of the book the authors state “… we nearly always start a project with the simplest template project: the single view application. When your app works, you will know it is because of your efforts — not because that behavior was built into the template.” I really like that. Definitely one of the best books out there.

Cons: Sometimes sentences were a little bit wordy, and the flow of the text required me to go back and read some parts again to understand.

1. iOS Apprentice Series (4th Edition)

Score: 4.5/5
Price: $54 (PDF only), $81 (PDF & Print)
Prerequisites: None.

The iOS Apprentice from (written by Matthijs Hollemans) is a series of four books teaching you iOS development with four increasingly more complicated projects.

Pros: This was one of the clearest technical books I have ever read in my life. I am definitely not surprised that a lot of people recommended this series. It never got boring, perfectly paced. This is by far the best resource I’ve found.

Cons: I would really like the exercises to be more challenging. That being said, the book claims to be aiming at complete programming beginners too. I will respectfully disagree. If you have zero programming experience, some of these stuff will be difficult to make sense of. Learn basics of programming from another resource, but definitely come back to this if you want to become an iOS developer.

(SCAM) iOS 9: App Development — The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide!

Score: 0/5
Link: (Kindle), (Paperback)
Price: $3.99 (Kindle), $9.99 (Paperback)

This book seems to be a complete scam, written by someone who is trying to trick Amazon customers into buying the book using sketchy techniques.

It is the “#1 Best Seller in Fiber Optics Engineering,” which is obviously a trick to have the “#1 Best Seller” badge. Reading it feels like someone who has absolutely no idea about iOS app development went through a couple blog posts and summarized what he read (and did even that pretty badly). At the time of this writing, the book had 138 reviews with an average score of 4.5, I’m pretty sure most of the reviews are fake.

The book claims that “Just by reading this material, you’ll be an effective iOS 9 app developer in no time.” A bold claim for a 59 page book.


I have to mention that, I haven’t read all these books from cover to cover, or watched the video courses from beginning till end. Most of the time, I downloaded sample chapters and only read those, or just watched the first few modules of the video courses.

Some people might argue that because of that, I can’t really review these resources. I would disagree. It is very rare that a book/video course changes so much in quality after the first few chapters/videos. And if that is the case, then they have made a fundamental mistake of including only the bad parts in their sample material.

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Do you know another book or a video course that is great? Do you disagree with any of the reviews? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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