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How to Setup an iOS Simulator for Testing

A newly developed product must go through the process of testing. For a newly developed website, the functionality on all web browsers available is thoroughly checked by a web developer. 

This is done to improve and provide a seamless user experience regardless of the device used to access the website by checking and fixing any bugs that may be present.  

There is a way that developers test these applications. But how? It is very expensive to use a different set of devices for testing and to be constantly up-to-date with the changes in hardware and updates is a lot of work. So to avoid this, developers use a simulation that recreates processes and systems of a device in real-time. 

It is possible to simulate any physical device on a computer owing to today’s world of ever-growing technological advancements. In the mobile industry, one of the most popular operating systems is iOS.

What is an iOS Simulator?

An iOS Simulator is used to mimic or simulate an app or a browser on a device that runs on iOS. This is viewable in an iPhone or iPad-like window. Due to Apple’s custom binaries and chipsets that can’t be reverse-engineered to show up virtually, only an iOS simulator can be used. 

One of the main criteria before you comprehensively debug and test on iOS Simulators is that the actual hardware conditions of the iOS device cannot be virtualized. 

An iOS Simulator is a cheap way to imitate an iOS device. Testing on real iOS devices is costly due to constantly upgrading (due to new releases every year) which is required and the maintenance of an iOS device lab.

It is extremely important for app developers that work with iOS to be updated. Until the bugs are fixed, new versions can be expected every few weeks. Due to this, setting up a simulator is all the more important.

Xcode is an iOS simulator developed by Apple. It is a tool for developing and prototyping mobile applications. The simulator app, Xcode, presents the iPad or iPhone user with an interface in a window on your Mac computer. It enables the testing of any app compatible with iOS.

Process of Setting up an iOS Simulator

  1. Xcode is available for free on the app store and it is an integrated development environment (IDE). The development of applications is enabled for all operating systems in Apple such as macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. 
  2. After downloading the simulator, there are a couple more steps that will enable the iOS simulator.
  3. After you download Xcode, an iOS simulator environment will need to be installed. Open Xcode and go to the “Preferences” option. ( Xcode -> Preferences) After doing so, in ‘Components’ there is an option to download the iOS version according to your need.
  4. After you have downloaded the iOS version as per your requirement, navigate to Xcode, select “Open Developer Tools” and then select “Simulator”. The iPhone simulator will open which is used for testing.
  5. There is an option available that lets you select your preferred device. Go to the “Hardware” option, then go to “iOS” and choose “Desired Device”.

Benefits of using an in-built simulator 

The ability to use multiple simulators that enables cross-testing is the most noteworthy feature. You can use a WatchOS simulator and an iPhone simulator at the same time to test certain app features that require both. The Xcode simulator is a good option for small teams.

The Xcode simulator also offers accessibility to main APIs that include development for Healthkit and Game Centre. Xcode offers an extremely close experience to matching a real device with accessibility without any associated costs. 

More Simulator Options

Visual Studio (With Xamarin Live for Mac)

An iOS app, Xamarin Live, was launched in May 2017 gaining popularity with the C# Developers. It does not offer multiple simulations like Xcode, but it has since been upgraded using Visual Studio for the C# developers. 

This is a niche audience that includes Visual studio users who are looking to build and develop iOS apps. A Xamarin Basic plan is needed with Visual Studio Enterprise Edition.

Visual Studio (With Xamarin and a Mac)

This version is a little complicated to set up, unlike Visual Studio with Xamarin Live. Even though developments are done through Visual Studio and Xamarin Live, there is one difference. Simulations are then sent to the Mac via the network and, in return, it is then streamed to the user.

The latest version of Xcode and an updated Xamarin.iOS SDK file needs to be installed. For the apps to be pushed over to the Xcode, Xamarin needs to be configured.

the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.
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