XCode may be coming to the iPhone and iPad very soon

Posted:
in iOS edited May 2020
Apple could be in the process of developing a version of XCode to run on iPhones and iPads in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, a leaker claims, a rumor that could lead to mobile apps being developed on the devices they will be ultimately used on in the future.




The iPhone and iPad are capable of a considerable number of tasks, with some people using the mobile devices as fully-fledged replacements for traditional computers and notebooks, like the MacBook Pro. One area that Apple hasn't covered so far is on-device development, which may change with the introduction of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.

According to leaker Jon Prosser in a tweet posted on Monday, XCode is "present on iOS/iPad OS 14." Claiming he mentioned its existence during a live stream the week before, Prosser goes on to suggest the implications are "huge," as its inclusion "opens the door for 'Pro' applications to come to iPad."

I'm not gonna say that Final Cut is coming to iPad...

But XCode is present on iOS / iPad OS 14.

The implications there are HUGE.

Opens the door for "Pro" applications to come to iPad.

I mentioned this last week on a live stream, but figured it was worth the tweet

-- Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser)


As an example of what he alludes to, Prosser comments "I'm not gonna say that Final Cut is coming to iPad," referring to Final Cut Pro X.

Prosser's comment was elaborated upon by a reply from iOS developer Steve Moser, who points out "the hidden Xcode Preview app is present in iOS 13," though it is used as a companion app for the Mac-based version to show layout previews on a device's screen. However, in response to another message suggesting it could be the Preview app, Prosser hints it's not that by suggesting "I know more than I've shown."

So far, Apple has not allowed iPhone and iPad users to develop apps directly on the devices in an official capacity. The nearest it has allowed is Swift Playgrounds, an iPad app that teaches Swift development and experimentation, but stops short of app development itself.

It's not clear how a full version of XCode for iOS and iPadOS leads to "Pro" applications on iPad. Given development for the platforms via a Mac already exists, it would be more prudent to consider the addition as making it easier for people to produce apps in the first place.

Currently a Mac or MacBook is required to develop an iOS or iPadOS app, though it is possible to test apps and visualize app layouts during development. By making it possible to develop on an iPhone or iPad, this can enable more people to get started creating apps as they don't need to acquire a Mac beforehand, reducing the barrier to entry for development.

Apple's plans for iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 won't be fully known until WWDC 2020, with Apple typically using the developer conference to unveil changes in its major operating systems.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    smaffeismaffei Posts: 237member
    Well, this would fall into line with Apple wanting to move their Macs to custom ARM processors. They would need an Xcode that runs on ARM. So, if Xcode runs on ARM, why not iPad?

    I think it's a great idea, but today's Xcode is quite resource intensive. So, either they are going to revamp a lot of the code / build / debug cycle to be more resource efficient or it's only going to run on very beefed up iPads (a lot internal RAM and fast internal storage).

    edited April 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 31
    There is no way XCode is coming to the iPhone. Or, if it did, who would use it?  The UX isn’t great on a 13” laptop, so studding that into a tiny screen would be crazy. The iPad option is cool though. 
    bonobobStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 31
    XedXed Posts: 1,476member
    There is no way XCode is coming to the iPhone. Or, if it did, who would use it?  The UX isn’t great on a 13” laptop, so studding that into a tiny screen would be crazy. The iPad option is cool though. 
    It's an odd choice, unless it's meant to work like SideCar does for the iPad as an extension of the Mac, but being able to quickly push an app update you've made in Xcode for iPadOS or macOS on your iPhone wouldn't be how I'd define Xcode on iOS, either, even if it required a developer to first add an app that had Xocde in its name so it could connect.

    iPadOS makes some sense now that it's a operate OS that includes increasingly improves mouse/trackpad and keyboard support, but as you note, it's not a great experience on a small display and I don't see how it would get a lot of use on the iPad without some major revisions since you still need to design everything with a finger as the primary input choice.
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 31
    There is no way XCode is coming to the iPhone. Or, if it did, who would use it?  The UX isn’t great on a 13” laptop, so studding that into a tiny screen would be crazy. The iPad option is cool though. 
    Yeah, iPhone seems less than optimal based on screen size. Apple doesn’t even offer Swift Playgrounds on the iPhone.  Xcode on iPad makes a lot of sense.
  • Reply 5 of 31
    thttht Posts: 4,498member
    I can see an Xcode implementation for iPhones. It's not going to be a multi-pane application, but it will be a one-pane at a time app, functional enough to do checks and small mods. For iPad, well, it's taking Apple a very long time to do something they should have done like 5 years ago.

    There are still things to do on the hardware front, such as 8, 16, and 32 GB RAM options, and external display support.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 31
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,733member
    There is no way XCode is coming to the iPhone. Or, if it did, who would use it?  The UX isn’t great on a 13” laptop, so studding that into a tiny screen would be crazy. The iPad option is cool though. 
    There's more to Xcode than the UI. 

    I think what this really means is that it will now be possible to compile code on iDevices. 

    Note that compiling code is not just something that software developers do when they are writing apps. 

    Compiling code on the fly in response to input makes for better, more flexible apps (especially think AI/ML). 

    But it also makes for a much greater security risk. 

    So the issues in play here are security vs features/flexibility. 

    Bottom line --- this has almost nothing to do with UI, it has almost nothing to do with people doing software development on an iPhone. 
    randominternetpersonrundhvidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 31
    This would be a boon for developers creating apps that involve GPS, as it would be relatively easy to get and test with live GPS signals, when developing outdoors on an iPad.
    rezwitswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 31
    blastdoor said:
    There is no way XCode is coming to the iPhone. Or, if it did, who would use it?  The UX isn’t great on a 13” laptop, so studding that into a tiny screen would be crazy. The iPad option is cool though. 
    There's more to Xcode than the UI. 

    I think what this really means is that it will now be possible to compile code on iDevices. 

    Note that compiling code is not just something that software developers do when they are writing apps. 

    Compiling code on the fly in response to input makes for better, more flexible apps (especially think AI/ML). 

    But it also makes for a much greater security risk. 

    So the issues in play here are security vs features/flexibility. 

    Bottom line --- this has almost nothing to do with UI, it has almost nothing to do with people doing software development on an iPhone. 
    Excellent point.  As did the article, the first thing we think of when we hear "XCode" is the IDE, but it's a constellation of tools.  Perhaps some of those are what's "present" in iOS 14.  

    I think it would meet the definition of hazing to assign Apple staff to rewrite XCode IDE (including Interface Builder!) to work on a phone (small screen, no keyboard, no mouse, etc.).
    blastdoor
  • Reply 9 of 31
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    There is no way XCode is coming to the iPhone. Or, if it did, who would use it?  

    The same people that use this, probably:

    https://apps.apple.com/us/app/pythonista-3/id1085978097


    dewmeauxiowatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 31
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,387member
    I'm very interested to see how Apple pulls this off.

    I started programming in BASIC almost 40 years ago on pocket computers with very limited screen real estate and rudimentary toolset (to say the least). Between then and now and through many high level languages and platforms my constant desire has always been to obtain more and more screen real estate through every means possible, including larger individual screens, multiple screens, more larger screens, using iPads as auxiliary screens, eye numbing tiny font settings, etc. A lot of this constant need for even more screen real estate was driven by a constant increase in the number of auxiliary IDE windows and information density that became essential for both development (writing and managing code), monitoring/tracing, and debugging. As the number of auxiliary windows and information density increased the space left over for code editing windows got smaller and smaller, only increasing the need for even more screen real estate. Not to be left behind in the feature bloat department, code editing windows got increasingly more complex and feature rich with multiple tabs, split panes within tabs, a ton of contextual information overlaid on top of the text, like syntax coloring and highlighting, auto completion hints, error indications, deeper context menus, etc., putting even more demand of more screen space.  

    Now we're talking stuffing all, or some subset of that, into an iPhone? I'll be the optimist and say, "bring it on." If Apple can pull this off and the net result is something that is intuitive, productive, and useful to a broader population of professional and enthusiast developers who have hit the wall on trying to accommodate the constantly increasing demands of modern IDEs like XCode, Visual Studio, and Eclipse - I'll be more than impressed.  

    Anything that can be done to make software development more accessible to a broader group of people will be a benefit for society as a whole. Having the ability to navigate the complexity of a modern IDE and unforgiving languages like C++ and Objective-C (and to a lesser degree Swift, C#, and Java) is certainly commendable in a Spartan punching-bark-off-of-trees sort of way, but it's also a huge exercise in rewarding claptrap and complexity and sustaining misguided priorities. At some point, which probably occurred about 20 years ago or more, developers started to serve the tools rather than the tools serving the developers. It's time to flip the script and hopefully Apple can show us the way. 


    StrangeDaysmacplusplusrundhvidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 31
    tex210tex210 Posts: 15member
    This seems necessary for iPadOS, but could we get a complete iTunes solution also.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 31
    Xcode on iOS would be a game changing moment for Apple. It would mean that iOS is finally mature enough to support real professional applications. The iPad is already more powerful than many laptops currently being used to develop with Visual Studio. The latest iPads can be purchased with full keyboards and track pads. You can even connect a Bluetooth mouse if you desire. Could Xcode run on an iPhone? Its screen is a bit small for code development but it has enough CPU and RAM to run the software. Perhaps Apple's AR glasses are the missing component allowing the developer to have multiple windows open that you can look at by turning your head and zoom in with hand gestures. Never say never.
    edited April 2020
  • Reply 13 of 31
    My first thought was that the idea of doing programming on an iPhone is dumb. 

    My second thought was that I could see some cowboy programmer doing a quick fix to existing code during a cab ride to the airport.

    My third thought was that such “on the go” modifications would probably break more code than they fixed. 
    edited April 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 31
    XedXed Posts: 1,476member
    Xcode on iOS would be a game changing moment for Apple. It would mean that iOS is finally mature enough to support real professional applications. The iPad is already more powerful than many laptops currently being used to develop with Visual Studio. The latest iPads can be purchased with full keyboards and track pads. You can even connect a Bluetooth mouse if you desire. Could Xcode run on an iPhone? Its screen is a bit small for code development but it has enough CPU and RAM to run the software. Perhaps Apple's AR glasses are the missing component allowing the developer to have multiple windows open that you can look at by turning your head and zoom in with hand gestures. Never say never.
    How would Xcode on an iPhone be a game changer? Making apps on an iPhone DOES NOT MEAN that the iPhone will finally be able to support professional applications. It has supported professional applications since day one, long before there was an App Store. You then jumped into talking about the iPad which runs iPadOS, not iOS, be the point still stands that you've been able to run professional apps without being able to run Xcode on the iPad.
    StrangeDaysfastasleep
  • Reply 15 of 31
    lddhtxlddhtx Posts: 1member
    It will come to iPad... Swift playgrounds is iPad/Mac only. Not iPhone obviously. Perfect timing with new trackpad support. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 31
    I could see the use case of a touchscreen interface builder, on an iPad or even iPhone, so you could drag elements in place, size them and test their functionality. It's hard to use the macOS Simulator to test swipes and other gestures.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 31
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,205member
    tht said:
    I can see an Xcode implementation for iPhones. It's not going to be a multi-pane application, but it will be a one-pane at a time app, functional enough to do checks and small mods. For iPad, well, it's taking Apple a very long time to do something they should have done like 5 years ago.

    There are still things to do on the hardware front, such as 8, 16, and 32 GB RAM options, and external display support.
    Xcode should have been on iPads 5 years ago? I don’t think so. Not if you’re living in this universe...they are just now getting to the point where it’s feasible, they definitely weren’t half a decade ago. And if you’re saying “Well they should have been!” then what can I say, you’re not being rational. I should have been a millionaire five years ago too. 
    macpluspluswatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 31
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 960member
    I've been betting on iPads with trackpad and pointer in 2020 and Xcode for iPad in 2021 for a few years now, feeling pretty smug about my crystal ball :) (but I also bet on "never" for ARM Macs… 2/3 isn't bad)

    The only thing I don't get about Xcode on the iPad is, about a quarter of the time I spend in development is in Terminal. I don't know how you do useful dev work on the iPad without a terminal and root access.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 31
    digitoldigitol Posts: 269member
    This needed to happen 10 yrs ago. 
    aplnub
  • Reply 20 of 31
    thttht Posts: 4,498member
    tht said:
    I can see an Xcode implementation for iPhones. It's not going to be a multi-pane application, but it will be a one-pane at a time app, functional enough to do checks and small mods. For iPad, well, it's taking Apple a very long time to do something they should have done like 5 years ago.

    There are still things to do on the hardware front, such as 8, 16, and 32 GB RAM options, and external display support.
    Xcode should have been on iPads 5 years ago? I don’t think so. Not if you’re living in this universe...they are just now getting to the point where it’s feasible, they definitely weren’t half a decade ago. And if you’re saying “Well they should have been!” then what can I say, you’re not being rational. I should have been a millionaire five years ago too. 
    It was feasible 6 to 7 years ago let alone 5. The first iPad Pro 12.9 was shipped in November of 2015, about 4.5 years ago, and that hardware was more than capable, just needed more RAM. RAM is still a problem as Apple has strangely only increased the amount of RAM in iPad Pros from 4 GB to 6 GB across those 4.5 years. This will be the biggest gating factor for Apple to bring Xcode, FCPX, LPX over or for Adobe to bring the full featured versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, etc over.

    Yes, this by definition is a "what should have been". Not sure how rationality applies here as I'm specifically disagreeing with Apple's chosen development path for the iPad when I say they should have done something different in the past. That's entirely rationale, and something everyone of us does. There's nothing that can be done about it now other than complaining, but entirely rationale to say Apple should have done something different, just like it is entirely rationale to say Apple messed up the Mac Pro for 5 years, and should have done something different, something faster to address the issues with 2013 Mac Pro.
    rundhvid
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