How To Use iOS On A Mac

How To Use iOS On A Mac

Both iOS mobile devices and Macs are seen as very secure platforms. While this is fantastic for users worried about safety, this may prove a slight hindrance to tinkerers and testers. This is particularly true in the fact that iOS apps are not normally playable on Mac desktops or laptops due to security settings. Here, we will show you how to play iPhone and iPad apps that don’t have equivalent builds on a Mac, in a simple guide.

Background

With proper virtualization, apps can appear and run almost identical to their actual counterparts.
With proper virtualization, apps can appear and run almost identical to their actual counterparts.

Now before we get started, let’s take a look at (besides security) why having iOS apps on a Mac is such a hassle. Our main obstacle is that we are transferring a mobile operating system onto a decidedly larger platform. While this is certainly possible, it does have some minor clauses we have to address. The first is that we cannot make the OS native, meaning we can’t have a Mac that only runs iOS. This is primarily due to internal performance constraints on part of the iOS system, as well as the need for virtualization of ARM processors, using the built in x86 processors. While one would think it should be easier for arguably larger processors to do the work of the smaller ARMs, due to format difference it’s much like using a pressure washer to fill a glass full of water. Between the output and way the water would come out, it would not be terribly well suited for the task, even though both a faucet and power washer dispense the same substance. Instead, we need a special “nozzle” to make our task possible. So, what we need is to create a virtual device to copy what the iOS operating system would see as an iPhone, and have it run on our Macs.

Some Uses Of iOS On a Mac

There’s a possibility you may have found this article and wondered to what end you might use this information, and if there is any real use for having the ability to run apps on your Mac. Let’s quickly run down three reasons why this may be a good idea.

Reason #1: Expense

If you own a newer Mac, expense may not be the largest concern to you. However, there is something to be said for trying before you buy, and if you already have a Windows or Android device, you may want to check the inner workings of an iPhone or iPad before purchasing. This will allow you to get used to the interface and app performance for free, and without any sales pitches attached.


Reason #2: Development

As anyone who has ever coded anything could tell you, testing is extremely important and should be done nearly every chance you can get. Unfortunately there is an inherent risk in testing your own apps, especially if you are playing with a $500 phone that could be bricked with a few lines of poorly written code. In this case, since you are running a virtual machine, if something goes haywire one can simple close out the program and start with a clean slate upon next boot up.

Reason #3: Security Concerns

Somewhat tied to the previous reason, this can be important for keeping your iOS device working if you happen to have one. Despite the incredible efforts of the Apple App Store to curate and ensure only legitimate apps make it onto their market place, an occasional slip up may occur, and this acts as a net for those if you wish to go app exploring. While you will still be able to run essentially any app, you can test it before letting it access any permissions on your actual device, and thus prevent any unwanted leaking of information.

How to run iOS on your Mac

As mentioned before, we need to run a virtualization of the iOS system in order to have it on a Mac. This means, our best option is to choose an simulator program which can do just that. Now we’ll explore a few options and see how to get them running on your Mac.

Program Option #1: iPadian

iPadian run on a Mac system. This allows side by side access to both phone and Mac apps with ease.
iPadian run on a Mac system. This allows side by side access to both phone and Mac apps with ease.

iPadian is one of the best simulators in terms of translating the GUI of iOS into a desktop program, with a caveat. Instead of being able to use the whole of the Apple App Store, you are limited to the iPadian App Store which is significantly smaller in scope. For this reason, iPadian is perhaps best suited for those wanting to test out how the iPhone and iPad systems feel to them, as opposed to development or security testing.

To start installation, first download and install Adobe Air  here. Next, go here and download iPadian 3.0. Next, all you need to do is unzip the file and open the .exe file. From there on out, follow the prompts as needed and in a few moments you’ll have a functioning simulator for your Mac.

Program Option #2: Air Phone iOS Emulator

Air iPhone is unique in that you can make calls over your Mac. Also, all emulators have the capability to also run on PC's, as shown here.
Air iPhone is unique in that you can make calls over your Mac. Also, all emulators have the capability to also run on PC’s, as shown here.

Similar to the previous option, Adobe Air must be installed to run Air Phone iOS, which itself is suprisingly robust in its functionality. While there have been reports of issues in terms of data-use heavy programs (Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc), all other apps seem to run quite well, and one can even make phone calls using the Ribbit app. This is a great option for those who want to test out apps that are already available through the store for functionality, bloatware, and security issues. As an added bonus, full functionality in regards to interface and rotation are both included which makes this a fantastic choice for those looking for the most real virtual experience. To download and install, click here  . Keep in mind that an initial pop up may ask if you’d like to download additional software or share this download to Facebook; Be sure to decline these or close them out, as they have no bearing on your download.

Program Option #3: Xamarin

An image of the Xamarin development suite, allowing for rapid prototyping of your own apps before they hit the market.
An image of the Xamarin development suite, allowing for rapid prototyping of your own apps before they hit the market.

This option is not so much an emulator or simulator as it is a development suite. This program set would be most beneficial to those who want to develop their own apps and have them eventually roll out onto the market place, as it includes an IDE studio, debuggers, a cloud filled with emulators of all sorts, and even classes in mobile development, for a price. Xamarin has recently been acquired by Apple and so far, while the studio itself is free, all the extras can vary in price between $100 to $1,500 depending on the users wants, which does cause a bit of a problem for those who are the newest of the new developers. That being said, it’s a rock solid system and can be incredibly handy for almost all development and testing needs. To explore these options further, click here  .

A Final Word on Virtualization

It should be noted that errors of a unique sort may occur during the use of simulators that will not always translate over to your actual device. Therefore, it’s recommended one uses the scientific method when testing apps in the virtual space (test three times; If the same result occurs, coincidence is unlikely) so as to not be overly cautious. Also, in terms of finding program specific bugs, Google is your friend. Be sure to research your program and app to gain the most knowledge from each session of experimentation and development, either as a tester, developer or user.




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