Do you want to develop iOS apps (or simply run them for business usage) without having to buy an iPhone? Or are you looking for a simulator to send beta test demos to your users?
You can develop or run iOS apps on your daily-use Windows PC using Emulators. After you install iOS Emulator on Windows, you can run iOS apps on your Windows PC using that emulator. In this article, we will explain what are emulators and simulators and will share best iOS emulators for windows pc to run iOS apps.
- 1 How to Run iOS Apps on Windows?
- 2 What is iOS emulator?
- 3 Differences between Emulator and Simulator
- 4 Use of iOS Simulator
- 5 Advantages of using an Emulator
- 6 Best iOS Emulators for Windows PC 2017
- 7 Conclusion
How to Run iOS Apps on Windows?
Apple’s iOS can only be installed on Apple hardware. But because Apple devices are so costly, many people cannot afford them.
If you want to run iOS apps on Windows, you have to install a software that lets a non-Apple device behave like an Apple device. This piece of software (called the Emulator) copies the behavior and performance of Apple devices and lets you run iOS applications on Windows without actually having to rob a bank or sell a kidney 🙂 .
Emulation in software
Emulation is the task of running a software on a different machine, other than the one it was originally designed for. Just like an actor pretends to be someone during the scene who he is not in reality. An emulator helps machine ‘A’ behave like a totally different machine ‘B’ in order to run a software meant exclusively for machine ‘B’.
What is iOS emulator?
For running iOS apps on Windows, the Windows OS acts as “host” and iOS app act as “guest”. An emulator is installed as regular host system software to run iOS apps. It takes the commands from the app and runs it on the host system after necessary processing.
The guest app works fine even though it is running on a different system because emulator is copying the behavior of the native system (iOS platform).
Many emulators demand a lot of memory and processing power. So the host system should be powerful enough to emulate a guest, otherwise the guest apps will run slowly.
Once you install iOS emulator on Windows, you can then run, test, or debug different iOS apps as if you were using a real iPhone or an iPad. Many emulators also allow developers to switch iOS versions to check cross-version compatibility.
Differences between Emulator and Simulator
When it comes to mobile testing, emulator is not the only way to test your mobile apps. There is also a different software called Simulator.
An Emulator mimics the guest hardware and software. A simulator however only mimics the software function.
Emulator is almost like a full-fledged guest device running on the host; it works the same way the original hardware would. If the Emulator is emulating a device with higher memory than host device, it will be like trying to fit a bigger box into a smaller box – the emulator just won’t run as fast or maybe it won’t run at all.
A Simulator provides surface-level emulation of only software. You cannot use it to test your own apps; they’re meant for casual users just to run the iOS apps and get the iOS experience.
Simulator does not imitate the hardware and it cannot give you deeper hardware related emulations. Therefore, a Simulator can be used to check the UI and general behavior but it should not be used for debugging the memory footprint of your app.
Use of iOS Simulator
Only a part of the emulation function is implemented by the official iOS simulator that is shipped along with XCode on Mac. This iOS Simulator is a tool installed on Mac devices to simulate behavior of other iOS devices, which the user cannot access for variety of reasons.
iOS Developers working on Windows machines (who are not using XCode IDE) will have to use iOS emulators or Simulators for Windows.
A unique use of Simulators is to send short demos of your apps to users for beta testing before the layout. You can also send these short simulated demos to investors to get their feedback and possibly their funding.
Advantages of using an Emulator
Using iOS emulators, we can definitely save money but to use something most effectively, we must know how best we can take advantage of it. So, let’s first list down advantages of using an Emulator:
- Enables you to run iOS apps on Windows for free
- Enables you to run and test your apps for multiple iOS devices.
- An iOS Emulator is perfect way for student developers to polish their coding skills to become iOS developers. Students can greatly benefit from iOS Developers Program.
Best iOS Emulators for Windows PC 2017
We have collected a broad list of iOS emulators and simulators for Windows.
In this list of Windows Emulators and Simulators for iOS, we have given priority to free ones but there are a few which are paid as well.
For the sake of simplicity, we have organized the list as follows:
- Emulators (which allow us to develop and deploy our own app on iPhone or online).
- Companies which let you send short simulated previews to remote users.
- Simulators built for casual users; they let you get the firsthand experience of iOS apps. You may not be able to upload and / or run your own apps with these simulators.
1# Ripple Emulator (Chrome Web Extension)
An HTML5-based app can be converted into a native iOS app using PhoneGap, but to run this iOS app on Windows is a completely different challenge. Ripple makes it easy – it is a chrome web extension that emulates a lot of native iOS functionality to help you run and test the apps.
This is useful for those who need a quick emulator to test their iOS apps on Windows. If you are casual user looking to just experience the iOS platform, this is not for you.
If you are looking for developing and running iOS apps natively on Windows, then look no further; Xamarin is your savior!
Xamarin is a popular tool that lets you develop your own native apps using C# programming language. You will be coding and running iOS apps using C# inside Visual Studio IDE for all platforms – Windows, iOS and MacOs!
(image source: Xamarin Blog)
Xamarin lets you share, on an average, 75% of the app logic code across all mobile development platforms. UI interfaces among all platforms can also be shared using Xamarin.Forms feature.
SmartFace is an iOS emulator which provides a way to develop iOS apps using a drag-and-drop interface and deploy them on your iPhone via the cable.
You will code using the SmartFace studio app on Windows and then use the feature called “Device Emulator” to send the code to a connected device. This iOS device must have the SmartFace app installed from the app store.
This is a very effective and simple way to test / run your iOS apps. SmartFace is available in both free and paid versions.
MobiOne Studio is both – an emulator and a visual designer combined. Since this is a dual role (emulator + designer) software, you can easily get started on your first iOS app without much fuss.
Some of the features of MobiOne Studio include
- A simple yet powerful drag-and-drop visual designer interface to design and run iPhone and iPad apps
- Built-in design templates to reduce your turnaround time.
- Test your app in different orientations and for different screen sizes
- Customise your workbench to declutter your work environment.
- A powerful iPhone and iPad Emulator which renders a smooth and more realistic experience of using the guest devices
Appetize provides an online simulator for iOS and Android apps. You won’t need to download any app – just create a free Appetize.io account, login and upload your app file and start running it on the browser.
Appetize does not provide you any IDE to develop your apps, you need to have a simulator build of your app ready to upload
Their trial plan is free which offers only 2 concurrent users and has a 100 minute time limit. Other plans are basic ($40 / month), premium ($200 / month), and enterprise ($1000 / month). You will get unlimited concurrent users with premium and enterprise plans.
If you are a developer looking to beta test your app before the final launch, then App.io is the right tool for you.
App.io enable you to send online demo of your app to your potential customers, beta testers, or investors right in their browsers without having to download the app. Once the app demo ends, users are shown a Call-To-Action (CTA) button that sends them directly to your app’s page on the app store.
Since it runs on HTML5, it runs much faster and users don’t need to install Flash to run the demo. This provides a whole new level of immersive experience to the users and truly seamless way to showcase your apps.
RunThatApp is a budding startup that enables developers to send short demos of their new app during the beta testing phase. External beta testing is extremely critical for any app. Real users (not from your company) can give you crucial insights before the launch about how your app will be perceived in the field.
RunThatApp allows quick and easy uploads your iOS app builds. Once uploaded, you can send a short demo to users in try-before-buy transaction or for beta testing. RunThatApp streams your app to any mobile or desktop platform in a web browser, as a no-holds-barred demo.
They are also highly secure i.e. after the viewer is done watching the demos, nothing is left behind on their browsers.
Their service is not free,so you have to contact their sales team on their pricing page to know their custom pricing plans.
Unlike all the other emulators mentioned above, Electric Mobile Studio is just a simulator. It doesn’t provide you any app development functionality. But make no mistake – the simulation functionality is probably the most comprehensive across all simulators to test your iOS mobile apps.
Features of Electric Mobile Studio
- Direct integration with Visual Studio 2012, 2013, and 2015 IDEs
- Multiple instances for separate iPhone and iPad simulation
- Easy management of multiple instances using powerful a powerful command pallette
- Seamless options for highly productive design, prototyping and testing
- Customize i.e. upgrade / degrade HTML5 support as required
- Integrated Chrome and WebKit debugging tools
With so many options, you will be right at home for testing your precious iOS apps on Windows with full control!
9# AIR iPhone
AIR iPhone is a free-to-use iPhone simulator that lets you run iOS apps on Windows. It is built using the Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) framework – it’s a cross-platform runtime system used to build desktop and mobile apps using Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex and ActionScript.
AIR iPhone simulator lets you run pre-installed apps to get a first hand experience of using an iPhone. The number of installed apps may be limited; All apps found on the actual iPhone may not be available on AIR iPhone Simulator.
Please note: You will have to install Adobe AIR on your system before using AIR iPhone.
AIR iPhone is a native simulator, not an online simulator. Therefore the look and feel is very close to using an actual iPhone.
(Image Courtesy: CPU Report)
iPadian is great iPad simulator for PC. When iPadian runs on Windows, it provides a very real iPad-like interface for browsing your favorite apps.
When you click an app, it opens a browser and runs the app inside it. So it essentially emulate apps in the browser, not as a native emulator. For some users, it may feel like incomplete iOS experience. But as iOS is not open source, creating a true native iOS emulator is virtually impossible.
iPadian is suitable for users looking to get a feel of a real iPad without having to buy it. If you are looking for a serious emulator for running or testing your apps on iOS, this simulator is not for you.
Disclaimer: Some users have noted that iPadian may harm your PC. Check this video for more.
Emulators needs to support both hardware and software. Apple provides little to no support for emulating the iOS software. This is the reason we don’t have a proper iOS emulator for Windows, Given Apple’s closed ecosystem, we might never have that. We have tried to give you loads of alternates in the form of emulators, remote-demo simulators, and native / online simulators. Do let us know in comments if you found anyone fitting to your requirement.
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