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The Best iOS Programming Books

Posted by on Feb 9, 2014

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The 3 Best iOS Programming Books 2014

The are only 3 real candidates for the category of the “Best iOS Programming Books” and I own all of them.

There are now dozens of books on the market that claim to be able to teach you iOS Programming, and choosing the best ones is a daunting task for the beginner. It is vitally important that you get off on the right foot in your programming ambitions and that means that you must choose your books carefully.

Not only do you need to find authors that are knowledgeable on the subject, but those authors also need to be able to describe the complexities of iOS programming in simple terms – not always an easy task for those that have developed a high level of expertise.

Now, I can’t claim to have read all of the available iOS programming books – life is just too short for such an undertaking! However, I have read quite a few of them and am, therefore, able to tell you with some confidence which ones are good for beginners. I’m afraid that some of the book I have read are truly horrible and should never have been published – it seems that some people are too keen to jump on the app development book-writing bandwagon without first acquiring the necessary skills to write good content!

One word of advice  – these books will not teach you the Objective-C programming language in sufficient detail (in fact, the Big Nerd Ranch book doesn’t cover it at all) and I suggest that you read a book or get some training on Objective-C prior to reading a book on iOS. I recommend some books on Objective-C here.

These books will also not teach you how to create 2d games using Apple’s new Spritekit. If you are primarily interested in Spritekit, I suggest that you learn Objective-C and then look at this video training course, covering Spritekit and game art creation.

My 3 Recommendations

The 3 best iOS Programming Books that I have read are:

  • iOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (4th Edition), by Conway, Hillegass & Keur
  • iOS 7 Programming Fundamentals, by Neuberg
  • Programming iOS 7, by Neuberg

(1) iOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide

The Big Nerd Ranch Organisation has been publishing computer programming books and delivering computer programming training courses for many years. They are not only experts in the field (Aaron Hillegass previously worked at NeXT and Apple), but they are also highly skilled in explaining sometimes difficult concepts to absolute beginners. This book does not presume that the reader has any prior knowledge of iOS programming and, if you can only afford to buy one programming book on iOS, this is the one that I would recommend.

To assist your progress through the book, there is a Big Nerd Ranch Forum where you can receive further support and assistance. Unless you are some kind of freaky programming genius, you will get stuck at some point when completing the example projects and assignments, and visiting the forum is a great way to solve your problems. It is also a great place to meet other people that are also setting out on the iOS Programming journey just like you.

The 4th edition was published today (10th February 2014) so it is completely up to date. I should point out that this review is based upon my reading of the 3rd Edition but I expect the 4th Edition to be every bit as good is its predecessor.


(2) iOS 7 Programming Fundamentals

Matt Neuberg’s iOS 6 book weighed in at over 1,100 pages! He has now split his iOS 7 version into 2 books. The first is this one that deals with Objective-C, Xcode, and Cocoa Basics, and the second is “Programming iOS 7”. If you choose Neuberg as your preferred author, you will need to start with this book and then move onto the second one afterwards.

Whilst Neuberg covers C and Objective-C at the start of this book, I would recommend that you buy and read a book devoted solely to Objective-C prior to read any of these iOS Programming books.

This book will provide you with the most comprehensive introduction to iOS app development possible. Neuberg is very thorough and if a concept is worth mentioning then you can be certain that it will be covered in detail in this book. His thorough (and sometimes dry & academic) writing style will probably not be to everyone’s taste, but i quite like it. I probably wouldn’t rely upon this book without also buying a book or course that dealt with learning iOS 7 in a more practical project-based manner.


(3) Programming iOS 7

Whereas the Big Nerd Ranch book on iOS is a project-based teaching course, this is more of a reference book. The style of Neuberg’s writing will not be to everyone’s taste because it can be quite dry and academic in places. However, I quite like this since it gives the impression that the author knows so much about the subject that the contents of his brain are just exploding over the pages! You can be assured that, having read this book (and iOS 7 Programming Fundamentals), you will have read everything there is to read about the iOS 7 development framework.

I would certainly not recommend this as the starting point for a beginner. You should definitely read his other book first before attempting this one.



I have all of these books and I think that they complement each other perfectly. If I was an absolute beginner and had to choose just one of them, I would probably go for the Big Nerd Ranch book due to its less intense style and the availability of forum support. I would then add the Neuberg books to my collection at a later date to serve as reference books.

If you have any opinions about my selection of the Best iOS Programming Books, please leave a comment in the box below.

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