To develop iOS apps, you need a Mac computer running the latest version of Xcode. Xcode is Apple’s IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for both Mac and iOS apps. Xcode is the graphical interface you'll use to write iOS apps. Xcode includes the iOS SDK, tools, compilers, and frameworks you need specifically to design, develop, write code, and debug an app for iOS. For native mobile app development on iOS, Apple suggests using the modern Swift programming language.
It is important to note that Xcode only runs on Mac OS X and the only supported way to develop iOS apps.
iOS Software Development Kit (SDK)
Explore the tools, technologies, capabilities, and languages included in the iOS SDK that make app development possible. Some iOS SDK essentials are the Cocoa Touch frameworks that include the UIKit, GameKit, PushKit, Foundation Kit, and MapKit. These frameworks and others allow you manipulate the iPhone or iPad camera, add voice interaction using SiriKit, explore music with MusicKit, expand viewing and listening via AirPlay 2, and even add iMessage Business Chat to your application. iOS 11 added the power of machine learning with Core ML and augmented reality (AR) experiences with ARKit.
Prepare your development environment
- Download Xcode
- Launch Xcode and create a New Project
- Get familiar with Xcode
- Build and run your app using the built-in iOS Simulator app that’s included in Xcode. The iOS Simulator is a great way to see what your app will look like and you can interact with it as if you were on a real device. You can simulate your app on a variety of hardware types and iOS versions.
Once you have built and tested (using XCTest framework or iOS Unit test) your app, you can invite users to your apps and collect feedback using TestFlight prior to deploying to the App Store. This is a good time for testing Push Notifications, data storage using Core Data, and making network calls to 3rd party APIs. To get going, you simply upload a beta build of your app, and use iTunes Connect to add the name and email of testers. The testers will install the TestFlight app for iOS so they can interact with your app and provide valuable feedback.
Testing your iOS app on real devices is critically important since the performance of the real device, different operating system versions, modifications made by manufacturer and carriers firmware may lead to unexpected issues with your app. Testing on real device gives you a more accurate understanding of how your users interact with your app.
On the other hand, obtaining physical devices for testing is a logistical challenge. This is where cloud testing comes into play. With cloud testing, you can test your application on real devices that are accessible on the cloud. You can perform a manual test or run automated tests to ensure the quality of your application.
Once you have built, tested, and beta tested your iOS app, you can deploy to the App Store. At this point, you must join the Apple Developer Program. As a member, you’ll get access to beta software, advanced app capabilities, extensive beta testing tools, and app analytics.
Learn more about developing iOS native applications.