App Development Resources

I created this resource page where you can always find helpful tools, media, and resources for your app development needs. I will be continuously updating this page with useful and helpful links, so be sure to bookmark this page for future reference!

Disclosure: A few of the links below are affiliate links where, if you decide to purchase, I may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you). I add resources to this page not based on how much I might earn from them, but on my experience with them and how helpful they might be to your app business. Please do not spend money on any of these sites unless you firmly believe they will help you and your business. – Chris


App Monetization

Ad Networks – currently using

Currently, I earn most of my income from advertising networks in my Corona SDK apps. After multiple attempts to find the best performing ad networks through real-world testing, these are the ad networks that I found perform the best and am currently using in my iOS and Android apps.

  • Vungle – Video ad network. I like Vungle and have had very good results with them.
  • RevMob – Full-screen interstitials and banner ads. Used to be my “go-to” network but has been up and down lately. Still very highly recommended.
  • Playhaven – Playhaven has performed very well for full screen ads and app walls. They have some other cool features to run house ads, and other marketing tactics.
  • Adbuddiz – I recently started adding this into the mix on occasion with good results.

For me, these companies have far outperformed any other ad networks both in eCPMs and overall earnings. If you’re using another network, I encourage you to try some or all of these to test your results. Just remember, it’s all about what works best for YOUR apps! And it will likely change over time!

Ad Networks – previously tested & used

I have used these advertising networks in the past with some limited success. I currently find better eCPMs and overall earnings from the list above.

  • Tap for Tap – I had OK results with TapForTap and also tried their cross-promotion network. Overall didn’t perform well enough and the cross-promo network did a better job of eating into earnings that I otherwise would have had than leading to downloads. I also didn’t have any success with their credits system (where you earn taps on your apps by gaining taps to other apps). I have 291,370 credits and haven’t seen one of my banners run for months. Overall, I’d steer clear.
  • Inneractive – I started using this ad moderation service when I changed development environments. I got mediocre results and found that getting paid regularly and on-time was not happening often enough. If I start to hear that payments are arriving on-time again, I may throw them back into the mix for a few tests.
  • Chartboost – I tried this for a very short time with very poor results. I’ve heard others have very good earnings from them but personally did not see anything close to the other networks I’ve tested.

Ad Networks – not tested but on my watch list

  • StartApp – I’ve read good things about this ad network. They have very unique ad units that tend to get more attention than standard interstitials. CPMs look to be promising (I’ve read reports of $3-$6 CPM). The bad news seems to be they don’t have support for Corona at this time. I’ll be keeping my eye on them.

Affiliate Income

  • iTunes Affiliate Program – If I link to the App Store for anything (whether to my own apps to ask for reviews or to the store itself) I always, always try to use an iTunes affiliate link. It doesn’t generate a huge amount of income, but it adds up over time. You’re leaving money on the table if you link to your apps and don’t use an iTunes affiliate link.
  • Zazzle – Why not sell T-Shirts and other products, right? I don’t make a ton, but it’s kind of fun and it does add up over the year. I do prefer Zazzle’s user interface and overall service over Cafe Press.
  • Cafe Press – I sell T-Shirts here as well. I like CafePress, but it is dated and more difficult to use than Zazzle.

App Analytics

If you want to know what people are doing once they download and install your apps, you absolutely NEED an app analytics service of some kind. To be honest, I’ve done a very poor job of event tracking to date and am a bit embarrassed to even admit it. Expect future improvements and a report or two on what I learn. Corona SDK used to have some analytics built in, but they recently turned those off so we’re on our own.

  • Flurry – Flurry does a great job of tracking everything from users, technical specs and demographics to specific in-app events. Recently acquired by Yahoo, it remains to be seen how it will change in the near future. Works very easily with a Corona plugin.
  • Upsight – Upsight analytics help you track virtually everything in your apps. They also offer some great marketing tools.
  • AppAnnie – More for app store analytics, AppAnnie has tools to monitor app downloads, revenue, rankings and store statistics. A great resource to monitor your apps and perform competitor analysis. Can also plug in your ad networks to track earnings all in one place — for a while this was working perfectly and was a really awesome resource for tracking ad income all in one place. Lately, however it has not been working properly and support tickets seem to go unanswered at worst and unresolved at best. Worth using but keep expectations low until they resolve some issues.

Web Hosting

  • DreamHost – Why do I think DreamHost is so dreamy? Because they have one of the easiest to use control panels, super simple 1-click installs, automatic upgrades, and their uptime and reliability has been far better than any other web host I’ve ever used. (And I’ve tried a few!) Whether you need a website to promote your apps, or a server to manage scripts or dynamic content within your apps you’re going to need a great web host that won’t slow you down. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND DreamHost for your web hosting needs.Click this link to get a special $10 discount on DreamHost web hosting!

App Store Optimization (ASO)

  • App Store Optimization Course – If you want to learn ASO, you need to learn from the best. Gabriel Machuret is the best of the best when it comes to App Store Optimization. I highly recommend his course if you want to supercharge your ASO and rank your apps well!
  • Sensor Tower – Sensor Tower helps you track daily keyword rankings for your apps and competitor apps. A great help for app marketing and keyword optimization. Be sure to check out their blog if nothing else — as they share some really great tips for developers.
  • SearchMan – SearchMan helps with App Store optimization and keyword development. Super easy to use. GREAT to help you find keyword possibilities that you may have overlooked. I recently stumbled across this one and am finding it very useful.
  • OneLook – This a reverse dictionary that I like to use to help me find keywords that I otherwise might not have thought of. It’s a really great tool to use in combination with Sensor Tower and SearchMan.

Oustourcing

If you haven’t tried outsourcing yet I encourage you to give it a try. You probably struggle (like I do) with having enough time to accomplish all of your goals for one project, let alone the list of projects you’d like to see completed. You can find app developers, designers, copywriters, and people to help you do just about anything. I was surprised just how inexpensively you can find someone to help you achieve your goals!

  • Odesk – I’m a big fan of hiring people from Odesk and have had 100% satisfaction thus far!
  • Elance – I haven’t hired anyone off of Elance, but it’s another good option.
  • Freelancer – Another great freelance option.
  • 99 Designs – Let designers compete for your project and SEE the ideas before you buy!

Learn To Code

  • Mobile App Development with Corona: Getting Started – Great book to help you learn how to create apps with Corona SDK or learn to code even better! Brian Burton is awesome!
  • Udemy.com – One of the biggest resources for online training. I love some of the app development courses they have to offer and they even have some Corona courses if you’re looking to up your skill level.
  • Lynda.com – Another really awesome option for online training courses. I’ve gone through many, many courses over the years and they have been very helpful.

Templates & Reskins

  • Deep Blue Apps – Provide iOS, Game Salad, and Corona SDK game templates. Some are FREE!
  • Chupamobile – Reskin templates for sale for iOS, Android, Unity3d and Corona SDK.

Corona SDK Templates

  • RagDog Studios – Awesome cross-platform templates for Corona SDK. They also have a membership program where you get all their apps for one monthly fee (including at least three new apps per month)
  • T&G Apps – Some great templates to help anyone get started with mobile game development.
  • Roaming Gamer – A handful of good Corona SDK templates here.

Corona Sdk Sample Code


Images & Photos

  • Pond5 – Royalty-free stock photos, videos, illustrations, music, sound effects, after effects templates, and 3D graphics.
  • iStock – iStock is a great resource for royalty free photos, graphics, videos and audio files.
  • ShutterStock – Great resource for royalty free stock photos, vector illustrations, videos and audio files.
  • Thinkstock – Thinkstock is a great option for royalty free photos and graphics — and they have some great options for multi-packs and monthly subscriptions.
  • GraphicRiver – A wide collection of graphics, art and design templates for very reasonable prices.
  • Fotolia – Nice resource for royalty free stock photography, vector graphics, movies, and logo designs
  • Scirra – Game graphics store with royalty free game graphics and art packs.
  • Graphic Buffet – A collection of 2D game graphics, 2D game assets, GUI interface elements and game art for your games.
  • Open Game Art – Tons of Creative Commons, GNU licensed and Public Domain game art. Great place for game art, ideas and starter packs.

Sound Effects & Soundtracks

  • 99Sounds – HUGE selection of completely free sound effects!
  • Pond5 – Great resource for audio files, SFX, and game music.
  • Universal Sound Effects – Dirt cheap collection of thousands of royalty-free sound effects for virtually any kind of app.
  • Freesound – Giant library of Creative Commons Licensed sounds, sound effects and soundtracks.
  • Audio Jungle – Royalty free audio files at great prices & good quality!
  • SoundSnap – Database of commercial grade sound effects and soundtracks.
  • PDSounds – Public domain sound library (many available for commercial projects).

SDKs & Development Environments

  • Corona SDK – This is currently my development environment of choice, mainly because of it’s ease of use and ability to create apps very quickly. Corona uses Lua code (I find it similar to Javascript) and helps you create apps with just a few lines of code.
  • Unity – The industry leader in cross-platform game development with some of the most sophisticated development tools available. Personally, this is next on my list to learn. From what I’ve seen, I’ve been very impressed. Also has the best in-app store for purchasing templates, snippets and sample code.
  • Monkey – A cross-platform programming environment.
  • Marmalade – Cross platform C++ development platform.
  • Appcelerator Titanium – An open, extensible development environment for creating beautiful native apps across different mobile devices and operating systems.
  • PhoneGap – Free, open source framework to build native apps using HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Development Tools

  • TestFlight – This is an awesome little tool to help you share native apps with your team wirelessly. If you’re working with ANYONE other than yourself you’ll absolutely need to have this. I work alone most of the time and still use it to easily send apps for testing to all of my devices at once. Recently purchased by Apple, it remains to be seen what changes are in store.
  • Dropbox – I use this to back up EVERYTHING important (in addition to local backups). It also helps me work remotely if I need to. And, it’s a dead-simple way to install development apps on Android devices. Click this link to get 500MB of Bonus Space for FREE when you sign up for a new account!
  • Origami – Free toolkit (using Quartz Composer) that makes creating interactive prototypes easy without code. Created by the Facebook Design team.
  • Particle Designer – Particle Designer is a nifty tool to help you create awesome particle effects.
  • Particle2dx – Particle Designer right in your web browser – for Corona SDK an Cocos2d. Flipping awesome easy!
  • Glyph Designer – Glyph Designer makes it easy to create bitmap fonts for your apps.
  • Cocos2D – An open source framework for building cross-platform games with Xcode and Objective-C
  • Icon Generator – Automate your icon generation. Begin with a hi-res version and this online tool will create the rest!

Animation Tools


Graphics Tools

  • Adobe Photoshop – My graphics program of choice. Now that Adobe has switched to a cloud subscription model, it’s more affordable than ever.
  • Affinity Designer – Super awesome graphic design software for infinitely scalable vector art with some awesome raster art effects. Cheap for what you get!
  • Canva.com – Amazingly simple tool for photos, graphics, presentations and more.
  • Inkscape – Nice free 2D illustration tool
  • Gimp – Gimp is a powerful, and FREE, tool for image creation and manipulation.
  • Painter – Painter is a really cool natural brushes design tool. I’ve found it a little buggy, but it can help you create more natural looks and effects that are difficult or impossible to create using other tools. One of my favorite tools is the “image hose” for spraying textures and images over a wide area.
  • MagicaVoxel – A very slick lightweight 8-bit voxel editor. And it’s FREE!
  • Mischief – Mischief is a very slick illustration tool that provides all of the awesomeness of infinitely scaleable vector art with the beauty of a paint program. Unlike anything I’ve ever used. Reasonable price and a free trial version.
  • Blender – Blender is an awesome FREE 3D design and animation tool. Like all 3D software it has a bit of a learning curve (perhaps more than some) but once you get the hang of it, it’s fantastic for 3D modeling and animation.
  • Sculptris – Sculptris is a cool little tool to create 3D models and characters. And best of all, it’s FREE!
  • Super Pixel Time – Create 8 bit art from photos. FREE!

Audio Editing Tools

  • Audacity – Audacity is a free audio editor and recorder. Works with any mic or headset. I’ve used this professionally for years. Very simple to use, but also very useful. A must have audio editing tool.
  • Bfxr – Create cool retro sound effects for your 8-bit games. Online Flash version lets you create and export sounds right from your web browser.

chris_small2_biggerFrom one app developer to another, I sincerely hope this list is helpful to you. If you know of something that you think should be on this list but don’t see it here, please let me know via Twitter and I’ll take a look!