As easy as Windows or Android application development may be, iOS development has its own limitations that require a Mac PC or the xcode IDE ( Integrated Development Environment ) that is designed and developed by Apple specifically for Mac OS X.As solid a marketing strategy that might be; iOS development becomes frustrating for Windows users as there exists no version of xcode for it.
Xcode is not just a toolset, but it is a constructive piece of software as well. Apart from being a platform for iOS development, it is an interface builder, testing application, and asset management toolkit as well. Having said that, Windows users shouldn’t let their hopes down if they don’t have the resources to purchase a Mac OS for making their dream application on iOS. There exists an xcode alternative for Windows, though the experience wouldn’t be same as on a proper Mac OS but it would get the work done so we are not completely powerless here. To achieve what is rendered impossible by many, you are going to need a copy of Mac OS X, Windows PC, an Apple account and a stable internet connection.
Methods for Running xcode on Windows :
A number of possibilities are to be considered before we begin.
Virtual Machine Installation:
Let’s get a few things straightened out before we dive any deeper into the installation method. First of all, it is considered illegal installing an OS X on a non-branded Apple PC according to the Apple license agreement, so make sure you take a good look at its policies before you get going.
The process requires a considerably strong Windows machine if you are considering running a Virtual Machine with a Mac OS X installation. To install a Mac OS on Windows you will need to simulate a virtual environment to be able to run xcode. The need for a powerful machine is said because running a Mac OS xcode in a Windows machine is a quite challenging task in itself. Virtualization is surprisingly easy to achieve with softwares like VMware or a free open source solution VirtualBox.
Apart from power there are certain hardware criterion your machine should also possess that are somewhat similar to standard iMac, MacBook, or Mac Pro, to successfully install MacOS:
- A Dual Core Intel processor
- Hardware Virtualization
- 2GB of RAM (4GB+ recommended) or more
After setting up these basics, you will need to follow these steps to start developing iOS apps:
- Installation of VirtualBox (here we are assuming virtual box alternate as it is an open source code) on your Windows PC
- Buy OS X from Apple Store.
- Create a Virtual machine from VirtualBox
- Now install OS X on your machine
- Download and install xcode on your previously installed OS X setup. To achieve this, open Mac App Store, search for Xcode and install it.
And Voila! You are all set up to get started with building your new iOS application.
Hackintosh is something similar to a virtual machine but the difference resides in the medium. VirtualBox installs Mac OS inside the PC whereas Hackintosh is set up on an external medium like a partition or a hard drive and you can boot directly from it.
But there exist some pros and cons as well. The pros being that it helps in avoiding performance issues that you might face while setting up a virtual machine. The cons being that it doesn’t run as smoothly as an actual Mac system and there exists some bugs and crashes. Other than that the setting up a hackintosh system is quite a hectic task and you might face some problematic issues in the process.
Rent a Mac with Macincloud
If you are facing issues running a hackintosh setup on your virtual machine, there is also a service you can opt for and it’s called macincloud. The process requires you renting a remotely accessible Mac that is controlled via your mobile device or computer.
To set up this process you will need to connect to your Apple OS X machine, that you rent via internet; using our Windows PC. This gives you control over your Mac and you can start the development of the iOS app.
Coming towards the pros and cons of this technique, the biggest advantage we get is relief from the painstaking process of setting up OS X on a platform it wasn’t intended to run on. The drawback of this method is that you are using macincloud so you are relying on your internet connection the entire time which might slow down the process , a problem you do not face while running an xcode on your own PC.
Not to forget, this service isn’t open source or free, however it is quite inexpensive.
The next step
By this point, you should have your xcode running and your machine completely set up which is easy peasy , the real challenge is what comes up next. Transforming your idea into a product takes a lot of work. The best approach to achieve this is to start small and build an MVP ( Minimum Viable Product ) and get it out as soon as possible.
For newbie developers getting their hands into iOS app development, should first get warmed up by taking some online courses or building dummy or sample application first.