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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.
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
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
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.
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