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Starting iOS Development FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions on starting iOS development.

Apple Hardware Questions

This page has frequently asked questions regarding Apple hardware.

Do I need an iOS device to develop iOS apps?

You do not need an iOS device to develop iOS apps. Xcode has iOS simulators you can use to develop your app.

I recommend getting at least one iOS device to see how your app looks and runs on a device. An iPod Touch or an older iPhone are good choices if you have a limited budget.

Do I need a Mac to develop iOS apps?

Short answer: No, but development is more painful without a Mac.

If you have an iPad is running iPadOS 15 (iOS 15) or later, you can use the Swift Playgrounds app to develop iOS apps on an iPad.

It is possible to develop iOS apps on a Windows computer. For example the Unity game engine lets you develop an iOS game on a Windows computer. But you need access to a Mac to submit your app to Apple.

If you do not have access to a Mac, there are sites that provide Mac cloud hosting, allowing you to rent access to a Mac without having to buy a Mac. Some examples of Mac cloud hosts include the following:

What Mac should I get?

To submit apps to the App Store, you need a Mac that can run the latest version of macOS. Any new Mac will run the latest version of macOS. To save money you can buy a used Mac. Most 3-5 year old Macs can run the latest version of macOS. The Mac Mini is Apple’s least expensive computer. Desktop Macs are generally less expensive than laptops.

Your Mac should have at least 8 GB of RAM. 8 GB is the bare minimum. Having 16 GB of RAM or more makes for a more enjoyable experience developing apps.

If your Mac has a solid state drive (SSD), it should have at least 256 GB of storage. Many low-end Mac laptops have 128 GB of storage, which makes updating Xcode difficult. Xcode takes up a lot of space and requires even more space during installation.

Many iMacs have a hard drive instead of a SSD. You can connect an external SSD to a Thunderbolt port (more expensive but faster) or a USB3 port and make the external SSD the Mac’s startup disk to launch apps faster.

If money is really tight, you can buy an older Mac, install an older version of Xcode on it, and use it to learn iOS development. You won’t be able to submit to the App Store, but you can learn Swift and iOS development.