update - windows 8.1 developer mode

How can I develop for iPhone using a Windows development machine? (8)

Is there any way to tinker with the iPhone SDK on a Windows machine? Are there plans for an iPhone SDK version for Windows?

The only other way I can think of doing this is to run a Mac VM image on a VMWare server running on Windows, although I'm not too sure how legal this is.

Xamarin is now my top vote. Purchased by Microsoft and built directly into Visual Studio now and being able to use C# and with all the updates and features they are adding, you can do everything on Windows, even compile, build and initiate deployment. You only need a Mac Mini to act as the deployment server, but you never need to write any code on it.

For games, Unity 3D is my top choice. They support iOS and most other platforms. For iOS and MAC, simply get the cheapest MAC Mini you can find to do the build, but all the development can be done on Windows.

Other options:

Use Marmalade (formerly known as the Airplay SDK) (for iPhone you will still need a Mac to sign your application, but that's it, all the development/testing can be done on Windows). The lowest tier license is now free.

Marmalade SDK

PhoneGap also works, but I have found it isn't quite as nice for gaming, but it's pretty decent for regular GUI applications. Again, you'll need a Mac to sign and test your application and be in compliance with Apple's terms of use.

According to my knowlage, the iPhone SDK must be run on Mac OS system, so I dont think that you will be able to develop using VS.

I believe you can use Mono to develop for the iPhone. You can read more about this here www.mono-project.com/Mono:Iphone

This requires Static compilation, and I've heard the process is pretty difficult at this point. Here is an article that provides some details http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/01/open-source-mono-framework-brings-c-to-iphone-and-wii.ars

If you are beginning iPhone development similar to myself I'd suggest sticking with XCode and the Apple tools. Although they offer a different developer experience then we are used to from Microsoft tools, they seem to have a good helpful community around them.

Update: Mono Touch now allows you to do development using MonoDevelop and statically compile for the iPhone. Here is the link with more info http://monotouch.net/

If you have a jailbroken iPhone, you can install the iphone-gcc toolchain onto the iPhone through Cydia and that way you can just compilie the apps on the iPhone. Apps that are developed this way can still be submitted to the App Store.

And although Mr Valdez said it is a grey area (which it is), jailbreaking is incredibly easy and pretty much risk free. Yes, it voids your warrenty but you can just do a restore and they will never know.

It's certainly possible to develop on a Windows machine, in fact my first application was exclusively developed on the old Dell Precision I had at the time :)

There are three routes;

  1. Install OSx86 (aka iATKOS / Kalyway) on a second partition/disk and dual boot.
  2. Run Mac OS X Server under VMWare (Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) onwards, read the update below).
  3. Use Delphi XE4 and the macincloud service. This is a commercial tool set, but the component and lib support is growing.

The first route requires modifying (or using a pre-modified) image of Leopard that can be installed on a regular PC. This is not as hard as you would think, although your success/effort ratio will depend upon how closely the hardware in your PC matches that in Mac hardware - e.g. if you're running a Core 2 Duo on an Intel Motherboard, with a NVidia graphics card you are laughing. If you're running an AMD machine or something without SSE3 it gets a little more involved.

If you purchase (or already own) a version of Leopard then this is a gray area since the Leopard EULA states you may only run it on an "Apple Labeled" machine. As many point out if you stick an Apple sticker on your PC you're probably covered.

The second option is the more costly. The EULA for the workstation version of Leopard prevents it from being run under emulation and as a result there's no support in VMWare for this. Leopard server however CAN be run under emulation and can be used for desktop purposes. Leopard server and VMWare are expensive however.

If you're interested in option 1) I would suggest starting at Insanelymac and reading the OSx86 sections.

I do think you should consider whether the time you will invest is going to be worth the money you will save though. It was for me because I enjoy tinkering with this type of stuff and I started during the early iPhone betas, months before their App Store became available.

Alternatively you could pickup a low-spec Mac Mini from eBay. You don't need much horse power to run the SDK and you can always sell it on later if you decide to stop development or buy a better Mac.

Update: You cannot create a Mac OS X Client virtual machine for OS X 10.6 and earlier. Apple does not allow these Client OSes to be virtualized. With Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) onwards, Apple has changed their licensing agreement in regards to virtualization. Source: VMWare KnowledgeBase

What you have described is a viable solution, however you should consider using the open toolchain for the iphone.

You don't need a mac then, only need to jailbreak the phone to make sure your app will work.

For all those who say it can't be done, this was the only way to make Apps for the iphone before the SDK was out :)

Also if you are after a guide to using the open toolchain then I highly recomend this book

Alternatives For iOS Development Under Windows

You might find following solutions handy. I have tried to comment those I am more familiar with:

Hopefully you'll find an alternative fitting your purposes. It really depends on what you already know. For instance if you are already familiar with Ext JS using Sencha Touch seems like a no-brainer to me.

To get an app to App Store it looks like the only solution (at least AFAIK) is to use PhoneGap for packaging your JS app. You will need XCode (mac) for this. Perhaps it's possible to use a virtualized version of OS X for this as well though I cannot guarantee this will work.

Develop iPhone app without a Mac?

The only reliable info I could find is at the always-excellent MetaFilter


The answer is apparently no.

You absolutely need an Intel Mac of some description.

The entire iPhone build process is too deeply ingrained in XCode to build elsewhere; and the only other Objective-C compiler I know is gcc, which doesn't support any Apple's additions to the language (nor their libraries).

And, in direct opposition to what people are saying above, Objective-C is absolutely my favorite native, compiled language. Elegant, small (only a few changes from C), late-binding, dynamic, straightforward. It's what C++ should have been.

Lots of people recommend picking up a secondhand Intel (remember, must be Intel!) Mac Mini as the cheapest "port of entry".