develop iOS app on Windows

How to Develop iOS Apps on Windows ( 4 best ways)

Have you ever tried to build an iOS app on your Windows PC? Maybe you’re just planning to learn iOS app development but can’t afford a rather pricey Apple computer, or do not intend to buy one quite yet. Is it possible to develop iOS apps on Windows?

In the first place, the answer is a big NO, because Windows is not compatible with Xcode -the software needed for iOS app development. However, there are ways to tackle this problem; in this post, we’ll go through the 4 best ways on how to develop iOS apps on Windows.

Calistu as a mobile app development company offers customized Android and iOS application development

What Is Xcode and What Is It Used for?

Xcode is Apple’s exclusive Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that runs only on Mac computers. It is used to design, develop, and publish iOS apps. The Xcode contains the Swift compiler, a code editor, UI creator, a debugger, and tools needed to publish your app to the App Store.

In short, it provides everything you need to create iOS apps, but the problem starts when you want to carry out iOS development on Windows. Unlike Microsoft, Apple doesn’t license its OS to run on any non-Apple computers. Using macOS is only possible on a Mac system. This greatly restricts you to build apps only on a Mac. However, several tricks help you run Xcode on your Windows PC and develop iOS apps with no need to purchase an expensive Mac.

4 Ways to Develop iOS Apps on Windows PC

Use a VM to Install macOS on Your Windows

The easiest way to develop iOS apps on windows is by utilizing a virtual machine. A virtual machine (VM), also called an image, is an emulated computer system that acts just like a physical computer. It uses software to create an environment for an operating system to run in, just like it’s running on the hardware itself.

iOS app development windows by VM installed

Virtualization allows you to run different operating systems on different hardware, for instance, Windows on Linux, macOS on Windows, and even Windows on macOS. It also enables you to run multiple operating systems in parallel for cross-platform development.

This solution is rather more technical than renting a cloud-based Mac. However, you can find popular services today, like VirtualBox (free) and VMWare Workstation (paid), to easily make virtual machines. Once you’ve downloaded VirtualBox, there are numerous guides to help you install macOS on your virtual machine. Other than a VM tool, you also need a copy of macOS, as an installer or virtual disk image file.

You can download a copy of macOS from the App Store or just borrow it from a friend. An ideal solution is to search for a virtual disk image file that has macOS pre-installed. You can likewise obtain installers from a variety of sources on the internet.

It’s also possible to upgrade a pre-existing image file to a newer macOS version (beta). After installing VirtualBox or VMware, you need to mount the macOS installer or disk image. Then start the virtual machine to launch macOS, and finally launch Xcode for iOS app development on Windows.

Note that utilizing macOS on any computer other than Apple is actually against Apple’s End User License Agreement (EULA).

Rent a Cloud-Based Mac

A simple, yet expensive way for iOS app development on Windows is to rent a Mac in the cloud. A variety of services available like XcodeClub, MacinCloud, and MacStadium offer affordable rent-a-Mac products. These services enable you to connect to cloud-based Macs through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). 

iOS app Windows with rented cloud server

Cloud-based Mac services typically offer the following:

  • A dedicated Mac, which allows you to get access to a physical Mac established in a data center as if it’s on your desk. It’s the most convenient, powerful alternative.
  • A Virtual Mac, which enables you to get access to a virtual Mac in a data center, similar to the VM solution we discussed before. A virtual Mac is fine too, but not as efficient as a physical Mac.
  • A Mac Build Server, which is a specialized type of Mac that can be used to compile iOS apps. Once you’ve created the apps on your Mac, you can use the Build Server to compile them for you.

Renting a Mac in the cloud allows you to benefit from the latest breakthroughs in Apple’s hardware. Many designers and developers usually complain about the low-spec computers Apple offers for a fairly high price, compared to other brands.

Now, a cloud-based Mac is just a fresh breath of air for tech-savvy hardware enthusiasts. You can just purchase your favorite brand of laptop, and simply connect to your Mac in the cloud to develop iOS apps on windows. 

Create Your Own “Hackintosh”

Steve Jobs, the tech giant, has always chanted the slogan: “One platform to rule them all”. That’s why all Apple’s products, including the Mac, App Store, iOS, and Apple Music, are closed, impenetrable systems. And that’s the exclusive quality that all Apple enthusiasts adore; Integrated Apple user experience, design, and interconnectivity.

iOS app development on windows by hackintosh method

In contrast, the rest of the world uses open systems architecture to build computers. This allows you to mix various computer components and create your preferred computing machine. Due to Apple’s closed architecture, you’re always limited to the hardware options they provide.  

But what if you prefer to run macOS on your custom-built PC? Now, you can build a “Hackintosh”. It roots from the old brand name of Apple computers -Macintosh, merged with “hack”. It’s, in fact, a non-Apple computer that runs macOS.

Just like installing a macOS on a VM, you can install it as a bootable OS on your computer. You can likewise create a dual-boot system to host both Windows and macOS. Once you boot your PC, you can choose the OS to start. But remember, creating a Hackintosh is a risky and challenging attempt, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with custom hardware installations.

It’s also important to know which hardware is compatible with macOS. Furthermore, Apple has created very strong protection systems to prevent booting macOS on non-Apple hardware. However, if you want to take the challenge, just check out for step-by-step guides.

Again, note that building a Hackintosh is against Apple’s EULA. But you may want to be a pirate, as Steve Jobs stated in 1983: “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.”

Use Cross-Platform Tools to Develop iOS Apps on Windows

Cross-platform tools are brilliant alternatives to Xcode. They allow you to code your app once and then export it to iOS and Android. This can considerably reduce your app development time and cost in half. Using these platforms, you can develop iOS apps on a Windows PC, or compile the application if there’s a Mac within your local network.

cross platform another best way to development iOS app Windows

Cross-platform tools encompass a wide range. On one side, there are complete Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) like Xamarin, which primarily use C# to code. In the middle, you have tools like PhoneGap, Cordova, Ionic, and Appcelerator, that enable you to develop native apps with HTML5. On the other end though, you’ll find lighter platforms like React Native that let you code with a JavaScript wrapper.

However, one thing all these tools have in common is that they’re not beginner-friendly at all. It’s much easier for you to get access to a Mac and XCode, learn Swift, and then build a simple app. Most of these platforms demand a basic understating of programming and the iOS ecosystem. That’s indeed what you won’t have as a beginner app developer.

Choose the Best Solution to iOS Development on Windows

As discussed, to develop an iOS app, you need Apple’s IDE -Xcode, which runs only on macOS. You cannot install it on any other operating system, and the bigger problem is that Apple doesn’t license its OS to other computer manufacturers.

So, to develop an iOS app on Windows, you need to think of some quick ways to get access to macOS on your non-Apple PC (solutions 1-3), or just use an alternative to Xcode (solution 4). Depending on your budget, project requirements, and above all your knowledge of programming, you can find the best solution and start developing your iOS app on Windows.

But remember that some of the methods mentioned above are a violation of Apple’s End User License Agreement (EULA). We highly recommend you DO NOT implement any illegal solutions, and save as much as you can to buy an Apple PC as soon as possible.

For more information about the cost and all web and app development services in Dubai that Calistu LLC provides. Click here

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