How To Develop iOS Apps On Windows: Ideas from Professional Developers

How can you develop an iOS app on Windows? The answer is simple - you can’t! However, there are many options for solving this problem and our company has the necessary experience in software creation that means we know how to develop digital products of any complexity and we are ready to share our ideas on this complicated endeavour.

The most obvious way to develop an iOS app on a Windows PC is to use a virtual machine. The virtual machine will develop an environment in which the operating system runs as if it were running on hardware. This is called virtualization, which allows a user to run OS X on a Windows operating system.

To work with OS X on a virtual machine, you need two things:

  • A virtual image file or a copy of an OS X installer
  • A virtual machine such as VirtualBox or VMware

You can download a copy of OS X from the App Store or borrow it from your friends. Installers are also available through various web sources.

Install VirtualBox and the OS X installer on the new virtual machine.

Another way to get OS X is to rent a Mac cloud however this is the most expensive method.

Here’s the basic idea:

  • Other users have their own Macs with a connection to the Internet
  • You use a Remote Desktop Connection (RDP) to connect to and operate one of the Macs, and that's it! This Mac is ready for use from any Windows PC!

Services like MacStadium, XCLOUD, and MacinCloud offer affordable Mac rental products, which are usually paid monthly. The price is typically between $50 and $150. You can also choose from other hardware options, including MacPro and MacMini .

Connect to a cloud-based Mac through a Remote Desktop Connection (RDP). Windows includes an available remote desktop client, like with most Linux operating systems. After you sign in, install Xcode and start developing your app.

Cloud-based Macs come in three flavors:

  • A dedicated Mac, with which you access a physical Macbook in the data center, as if you bought a computer in the Apple Store.
  • A Macbook, which means you access virtual Macs in your data center exactly like the VirtualBox solution. Your computer will not run on Apple hardware, but it will work with MacOS.
  • A Mac Build Server, which is a dedicated Macbook for compiling iOS apps. You create apps on your PC and then instruct the developing server to compile the application for you.

The Mac Build Server is best option for enterprise apps or multiplayer teams. Developing a server can be used for continuous integration (CI) practices or, if you just want to develop an iOS app on a Windows PC, use a different method.

One of the main disadvantages of running a Macbook through the cloud is that you can’t connect your iPhone to Xcode. With Xcode, if you're using a USB cable for lightning, you can test and debug an app directly on the iPhone. One solution, of course, is to run an app on an iPhone simulator, directly on Xcode so you can try an app and debug it.

If you need to run an app on the iPhone, just install it with TestFlight.

If you install tools like Crashlytics Crittercism, you get an opportunity to monitor and debug crashes.

An appealing use case for renting a Macbook through the cloud comes from developments in Apple hardware. Many developers, desktop publishers and designers are concerned about the lack of innovation with respect to Apple's hardware, offering low-profile computers that are stylish but only available at a fairly high price.

If you do not want to carry a $ 2,500 developing machine to the local coffee shop or with you on vacation the next time you travel to Thailand, why not buy a low-end Windows laptop and connect to the cloud that way? You can host it at home, put it in the data center or rent a dedicated Mac on the cloud.

Cross-platform tools are great: you only have to write the app once and then export it to iOS or Android. This can cut the time to develop an application and its costs in half. There are several cross-platform tools that will allow you to develop iOS apps on your Windows PC, or compile your app if you have a Macbook on your local network.

The cross-platform Gongju ecosystem is very large. You have a complete integrated development environment (IDE), such as Xamarin, which allows you to develop multiplatform programs using C#.

Tools like Cordova, Ionic, PhoneGap, and Appcelerator outperform other middle tier products, allowing you to develop native apps using HTML5 components. The remote control includes a small platform like React Native, which lets you write native apps using the JavaScript wrapper.

What makes all cross-platform tools stand out is that they are not beginner-friendly! Accessing Macs, learning Swift and creating a simple app is much easier than starting with Xamarin.

Most cross-platform tools require a basic understanding of programming, compiling iOS and Android options and ecosystems. Something you're unlikely to be an expert at, as a beginner.

  • If you're familiar with Windows development tools and IDEs and you already know how to write code, it's worth checking out Xamarin. With Xamarin, you can use Mono and MonoTouch structures to write apps for multiple C # platforms.
  • If you're familiar with web development, check out Ionic or PhoneGap. You'll feel right at home with CSS, HTML5, and JavaScript. Don't forget: local apps are different from sites...
  • If you already know a bit about JavaScript, or prefer to learn to write JavaScript instead of Swift, try React Native so you can use a Wrapper to write native apps for iOS. Always choose multi platform tools deliberately, because this is a smart choice, not because you think the local platform language is insufficient.
  • If you do not want to be part of the closed world of an Apple owner, be sure that the cross-platform development tools you're using are operated by well-known companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Adobe and Amazon.

Often the general consensus on cross-platform tools is that they provide limited hardware access and support for smartphones and are "inflexible" compared to native software hardware. Keep in mind that any cross-platform tool requires you to write platform-specific code at one point or another, especially if you want to write custom features.

Get a Second Hand Mac

You need to ask yourself - why not buy a Mac? Perhaps the easiest option in this article is to just buy an iOS based device.

If you do not want to use cross-platform tools just get a Mac in the cloud.

A quick online search shows a $250 second hand Mac Mini available. Any newer second-hand Mac mini will run you around $450. Don't forget you can get a new Mac Mini for $500.

Swift Sandbox Code

Do you need Xcode to write apps? At some point the answer will inevitably be yes. However, before completing your app, you have to learn to code, but now you can do it here, not with Xcode!

Swift is an open source language, which means you can run it efficiently on any hardware. Therefore, you can also run it in a browser - as long as the language has been ported to Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.

Rely on professionals

If any of these options seem too difficult, the best way to develop your iOS app is to outsource your development projects to our London-based software development company and get the high quality digital products that meet the goals and requirements of your business. Working with our experienced team of expert developers is your gateway to innovation, cutting-edge technology, the best methods of software development, functional scalability, security, and business expansion.

Still have questions? We are ready to help