Featured iPhone Development Resources

iOS Development On Windows – 7 Options

Some time ago I decided to list a couple of options available for iOS development on Windows. Now, months later this is still something that has been brought up recently. So I have decided to expand the list, and include some of the other solutions that have cropped up since the original posting, and some upcoming that look interesting.  Please note, that there is no official solution for developing for the iPhone SDK on Windows (and it’s doubtful there ever will be).

At this point you will need to compile your app on the official iPhone SDK running on Mac OS X if your goal is to get your app in to Apple’s iPhone and iPad app stores, use Flash’s iPhone packager, the Airplay SDK, or send someone else your code for compilation.  Now, I know there is the obvious “hackintosh” solution, but I won’t get into that, not only is it possibly illegal, but I’ve seen someone try it… and it was a major continuous hassle — every update of the OS and SDK cost them valuable hours, when they could  just get a sub-$700 Mac Mini and avoid all hassles.

That being said there are ways to develop iOS apps on windows.  Let me repeat that there is no real iOS SDK Windows edition — and most certainly not any official options despite what the marketing material of some vendors might tell you.   If you see a vendor posting false information suggesting their solution is an official Windows iPhone developer SDK then I suggest staying away.

Disclaimer: Everything on this page is subject to change. iOS development is in constant evolution. This page has been updated many times, but there is no guarantee that things will be 100% up to date at the time you read it. Deal with it.

I am limiting those shown here to those from which apps already available in the store have been created with, and some that appear to be exceptionally well done.

These Windows alternatives include game engines, html/javascript solutions for hybrid app development, and general iPhone/iPad app creators.

The iPhone Development On Windows Options

1) Flash CS5.5 – Has become a very good solution with the Flash iPhone Packager.  The packager for iOS allows you to compile apps on the windows platform.  If you’ve been using flash you can rejoice in Apple’s latest policy, it performs ok, but don’t expect highest performance games, and Papervision to run in here.  No mac required.  Something that has been asked is if it is possible to create flash iOS apps in an evironment other than the official Adobe one.. absolutely, you can compile with the Flex compiler, and package your apps for iPhone as long as you follow the asme guidelines.

2) Airplay SDK – The airplay SDK allows you to create games, and sign your app on Windows PC’s.  A great solution for both 2D and 3D games and apps because of the free offer made to indie developers.

Both these solutions can compile to code that is native to the iPhone right on your windows PC and many apps available in the app store have been created using them.

3) Unity 3D – Game development engine and editor that utilizes Boo and C# and the editor works on both Windows and Mac.

4) Stonetrip S3D – Game develop engine and editor utilizing LUA, the editor runs within Windows.

These game engines allow you to develop your apps on Windows, but you’ll need a Mac to test/compile

5) Appcelerator Titanium – This is a good solution, and has a very popular and vibrant community.  Apps are limited in performance because while they can be compiled as native apps and sent into the app store they are html/javascript based.

6) Genuitec MobiOne – This is an interface designer that uses the Phonegap framework to deliver native functionality.  It only runs on windows.  HTML/Javascript based.

These solutions allow you to create apps using web technologies (HTML/CSS/Javascript) and then run them through an Objective-C framework that responds to actions within a UIWebView, thus allowing you to access native functionality on the iPhone.  These frameworks are free.  You will need a mac for native testing/compilation.

7) Dragonfire SDK – An interesting option that allows you to develop apps using their SDK on windows.  Then you send them your uncompiled source which they compile and you download the compiled iOS application file.  You upload your code for compiliation on their server (as long as you have the Ultimate edition).  I like the syntax and it’s pretty popular so I’ll mention it.  It is a good wrapper with a nice simulator on Windows.

There are a couple of other solutions that were either in testing, required payment without any form of trial (or in some cases even screenshots), or just aren’t out yet many of them seemingly lesser versions of the Dragonfire SDK that enable iPhone development on Windows by compiling your source code for you.. Airplay SDK is probably the most advanced “iOS SDK on Windows” available free at this stage.

iPhone Development On Windows Now A Real Possibility

My suggestion is that you are really set on windows iPhone development and rdon’t even want to buy a Mac Mini is that you create your app using an html/javascript solution such as Phonegap/Appcelerator or the Airplay SDK and then find someone with a Mac and hit them up to do the submission for you.  Airplay SDK is the only free solution for creating high performance iPhone/iPad games using Windows.  You can use the Flash builder, but there are currently some performance limitations – a new edition is coming out soon.

Update: Airplay SDK has unfortunately been renamed Marmalade SDK and no longer provides a free solution for indy developers.

Best of luck, if you know of any other alternatives that enable iOS app development on Windows or if any of the info above has changed then please mention it below in the comments.

81 replies on “iOS Development On Windows – 7 Options”

I’m not sure if I’m getting too far off topic here but…  does anyone know the procedure (if there is one) for making an iOS file (i-tunes app) compatible to run on PC running Windows 7? I ask because i’ve recently damaged my ipod and desperately need a few apps I use on it as tools. I’ve looked everywhere online but can’t find much on the subject unless it was developing software. My first instinct tells me there should be an app out there such as an emulator just for iOS files. Anyone have the answer? Message me at the address below. 
[email protected]

If you have a jail-broken iPhone, iPod, or iPad, there are some other options for developing applications without a Mac.  

There are free objective C compilers which run on your iphone or on your PC.  While you cannot do any Drag-n-drop style GUI development.   I know many of you XCode developers think that WYSIWYG GUI development is “real programming, but many developers eschew that stuff even on the Mac.   You have to do your testing on a real device rather than a simulator.

It also turns out that doing your GUI program in code makes things slightly easier when it becomes time to code up that Android version of your App.  I understand that to many of you that I have just blasphemed. 

You cannot distribute your App to the App Store without a Mac, but you can do just about everything else on a PC. 

It should be noted that Unity 3D in itself cannot be used to develop iOS apps. The iOS development feature is an add on only available to Mac users.

iOS Apps written with Titanium still use the XCode SDK, and still require MAC OS install. 

I like your blog. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to more great tips from you. Keep it up. 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.