Installing iPhone apps without a Mac-using apple developer account and Phonegap build

applePeople wonder if they can develop an iOS mobile application and deploy it on an iOS device using windows. I spent a lot of time trying to generate P12 and signing certificates using OpenSSL in Windows and then deploying it in my iPhone using Phonegap. After all the trials I figured out that it’s possible to generate P12 and certificates using OpenSSL, but it’s better to buy an Apple developer account for certificates and P12 to avoid any jailbreaking or warranty void. So here’s guide how to get started. We will deploy a simple application in the tutorial.

You will need to install the following before you can build iOS applications using Windows.

(Each link will open in new tab)

Once you are done with installing above, follow below 6 steps:

  • Step 1- Archive(zip) www folder of your application

     folder icon -> 

    If you already have www folder for your application which contains index.html you can skip this part. Beginners or people who want to learn Themeroller to get a basic layout for your app with very less effort may have a look at Jquerymobile for Dummies tutorial.

  • Step 2-Get certificate and a provisioning profile  for your application using Apple Developer Account or OpenSSL.

    Go through phonegap documentation to learn how to generate certificate and a provisioning profile without a Mac. If you already have P12 and certificate you can skip this step. I will suggest to generate .p12 and .cer file using Developer account.

  • Step 3-Upload Archive to Phonegap build site

    Now you have provisioning profile, certificate and archive of your application. Sign into your Phonegap build account and create a new application. Check upload an archive or index.html file. Give a name to your app and upload your archive.

    New application using Phonegap build

  • Step 4-Add signing key using certificate(p12) and provisioning profile

    You will notice that you have builds for each except iOS which is orange in color. You can click on any platform and download build for platform required.

    Phonegap build iOS

    Click on your application. You will see this screen.

    ios-signing key

    Click on Edit-> Signing

    For iOS select the dropdown and select add a key..

    Signing Key-iOS

    Upload both provisioning profile and certificate(p12) to generate a signing key.

    Note: Provide the same password which you provided while generating p12 file using OpenSSL during Step2.

  • Step 5-Download .ipa(iPhone archive) file

    After providing the signing key go back to your apps page and you will see that you have ready builds for each of the platform.

    Click on iOS and it will download .ipa file which is build file for iOS platforms.

  • Step 6-Upload your build(.ipa) to your TestFlightApp account

    A very good work around to test your app in development environment is TestFlight App. If you already have the credentials for TestFlight and .ipa file, you can deploy your application in no time(NOTE: your device should be registered with TestFlight App). You will need 40 digit Hexadecimal code for your device which you can get by clicking on Device Serial Number in iTunes. Device can be iPod touch, iPhone or iPad.

    ->Click on Upload build.

    testfligt-add

    ->Drag and drop your .ipa file. Add some release notes and upload.

    testflight-drop

    ->Once you have your build ready, you can invite your testers and developers to test your app on their registered devices.

    buildready

    Once you register you app your testers will get an email on their registered E-Mail ids from where they can downloadTestFlight app on their iOS devices and install and run your application(Note: They should open that E-mail in their registered device.)

NOTE: This method can only be used to check your apps on testing devices, not to host on App Store.

Escaping mechanisms can be exciting, but results might make you mad.
Happy iOS development

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19 thoughts on “Installing iPhone apps without a Mac-using apple developer account and Phonegap build

  1. Fantastic that was excellent. i had spent countless hours trying to download application loader and then xcode and figuring out what to do. do you do personal consulting. i would like to consult with you in relation to the app upload if you can walk me through it once let me know your charge

  2. It means I can test an application using Test Flight app after building it with phonegap? Is there a way I can generate P12 without developer account?

  3. Great tutorial and the screenshots were helpful.

    But as you noted that this method cannot be used for hosting apps on itunes, i’m wondering why?

    Because once you have the certificates and sign the app with those certificates why should they reject your application ?

    Or did you meant that apps packaged via phonegap build cannot be published on itunes?

    Thanks for your helpful post.

    1. Thanks Naveen. When I wrote this post I was able to generate p12 and cer files using SSH without using Apple developer account. Apple will reject those applications. But if you are using Apple developer account to generate p12 and cer files, you can deploy apps build using PhoneGap on AppStore

  4. Hi, how can I change the icon?
    I tried to change in the Settings tab. It changed the icon in the build.phonegap page, but after it’s rebuilt and uploaded in TestFlight, the icon didn’t change in TestFlight.
    Thanks.

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