iPhone and iPad app building will be easier on iOS 8, say developers

Improvements to beta testing and app vetting relieve some of developers' biggest pain points

Building iPhone and iPad apps will be made significantly less cumbersome with today's rollout of the iOS 8 mobile operating system, according to software developers.

Sean Reilly, director of software development house The Infinite Kind, told Techworld that Apple currently makes it difficult for developers to test beta apps.

[ Download InfoWorld's Developers' Survival Guide for all the tips and trends programmers need to know. | Keep up with the latest developer news with InfoWorld's Developer World newsletter. ]

He went as far as to describe the current beta testing process as "atrocious" because it only allows developers to trial their apps on a relatively small number of devices.

"Thankfully, Apple has promised that the process will be much easier when distributing apps for iOS 8," said Reilly.

Specifically, Apple is set to move from allowing developers to test a beta app on 100 devices per year to being able to test beta apps across 1,000 user IDs.

"Normally, most people who help test iOS apps have more than one iOS device," explained Reilly. "That cuts down the average number of testers to about 50 per year (assuming each person has two devices). What made it worse was that many testers would get new devices throughout the year, using up further device allocations."

The move means thats developers will no longer need to "gather, register, and fuss" with device IDs when distributing beta apps, according to Reilly.

Commenting on the current situation, Reilly added: "It's really a huge hassle that doesn't exist on other platforms. It's by far the biggest issue. I've never met an iOS developer that didn't complain about this aspect of their work."

Once developers are happy with the beta version of their iOS apps they must then send it to Apple to get it reviewed and approved.

To the frustration of many entrepreneurs, developers, and even large organisations like HMV, Apple doesn't always accept apps and it doesn't typically tell companies why their app has been rejected.

"I think that virtually all iOS/Mac developers have probably had an app rejected for some reason or another," said Reilly. "All of our apps that have been rejected have been subsequently accepted after we made changes."

iOS vs Android

Meanwhile, Android developers are able to upload their app to the Google Play store with relative ease.

Paco Hope, principal consultant at software security consultancy, Cigital, said: "The criteria for acceptance/rejection [on the App Store] are not strictly nailed down. Google is a bit more transparent and also tends to be more accepting."

However, Hope warned that with freedom comes a degree of risk. "The Android OS itself and the non-Google stores offer very little protection against rogue app publishers who would repackage and republish legitimate apps by inserting malicious code into them," he said. "The apps look legit, but are, in fact, malicious. Android, unlike iOS, is willing to install apps from anywhere. This means that Android users have the choice to disregard Google's validation and take risks that iOS users are simply unable to take."

Apple claims that it carries out the vetting process to keep its customers safe but not everyone agrees.

"Some developers will claim that Apple does it to maintain control and to not provide a way around their 30 percent portion of every purchase," said Reilly. "That may be the case, but I can't really blame them."

Apple did not repond to Techworld's request for comment.

This story, "iPhone and iPad app building will be easier on iOS 8, say developers" was originally published by Techworld.com.