Top 10 iOS app development tools

14 min read
March 31, 2023

iOS app development tools are a set of software tools used by developers to create, design, test, and deploy iOS applications. 

These tools include programming languages such as Swift and Objective-C, integrated development environments (IDEs) such as Xcode, frameworks such as UIKit and SwiftUI, and performance analysis tools such as Instruments. 

They allow developers to create a wide range of applications, from simple utilities to complex games and enterprise-level solutions. 

Using iOS app development tools, developers can create robust apps that run on Apple’s operating system and take advantage of the latest features available on iOS devices. 

This blog is meant for anyone willing to learn about iOS app development iOS developer roadmap is another great resource for beginners so check that out too.

Now let’s explore the most useful iOS tools we use here at DECODE. 


We can’t talk about iOS app development tools without talking about Xcode.

iOS app development tool - Xcode.

source: Xcode

Xcode is a comprehensive integrated development environment (IDE) developed by Apple Inc. for building applications for macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS.

Important features

 Here are some of the key features of Xcode:

  • Interface Builder

    Xcode provides a drag-and-drop interface builder that allows developers to create user interfaces quickly and easily. It also includes tools for designing custom views and layouts.
  • Debugging tools

    Xcode includes a powerful debugger that helps developers find and fix bugs in their code. The debugger supports breakpoints, stepping, and profiling tools to help developers optimize their code.
  • Source control integration

    Xcode integrates with Git and other source control systems, making it easy for teams to collaborate on code and manage version control.
  • Instruments

    Xcode includes a suite of performance analysis tools called Instruments, which helps developers identify and fix performance issues in their code.
  • iOS simulator

    Xcode includes an iOS simulator, which allows developers to test their apps on a variety of devices and operating systems without needing physical hardware.
  • App Store Connect

    Xcode includes an integrated workflow for submitting apps to the App Store. Developers can manage their app metadata, submit builds for review, and track their app’s performance directly from Xcode.

Pros and cons


  • Swift support
  • powerful debugging
  • Easy navigation


  • Steep learning curve
  • Limited to Apple


Xcode is available as a free download on the Mac App Store. There are no upfront costs or licensing fees to use Xcode. 

However, in order to publish apps to the App Store or distribute them through other Apple channels, developers must enroll in the Apple Developer Program, which has an annual fee of $99 USD. 

The Developer Program provides additional resources and support for app development, as well as access to beta software and tools.

It’s important to note that while Xcode itself is free, developing for Apple’s platforms may require purchasing additional hardware such as Mac computers or iOS devices.


Among iOS app development tools, CocoaPods is up there with the most important ones.

iOS app development tool - CocoaPods.

source: CocoaPods

CocoaPods is a dependency manager for iOS and macOS projects that makes it easy to add third-party libraries and frameworks to your Xcode project. 

It simplifies the process of managing dependencies by automating the installation and configuration of external code, making it easier for developers to focus on building their apps. 


Need an iOS app?
We have a dedicated team just for you →

You’ll be talking with our technology experts.

CocoaPods provides a central repository of libraries, which you can easily add to your project using a simple command-line interface. It also handles the installation of dependencies and version management.

It’s widely used in iOS development and has become an industry standard for managing project dependencies.

Important features

CocoaPods offers many features to simplify iOS and macOS development, including:

  • Dependency management
    CocoaPods allows developers to easily manage third-party dependencies in their projects.
  • Centralized repository

    CocoaPods maintains a central repository of over 100,000 open-source libraries, making it easy to find and integrate libraries into your project.
  • Version management

    CocoaPods automatically manages library versions and updates, ensuring that your project is always using the latest stable version of each library.
  • Integration with Xcode

    CocoaPods integrates seamlessly with Xcode, making it easy to add libraries to your project and update them as needed.
  • Customizable configuration

    CocoaPods allows developers to customize the configuration of each library, such as which parts of the library to include in the project.
  • Community support

    CocoaPods has a large and active community of developers who contribute to the project and provide support to others.

Pros and cons


  • Simplified management
  • Easy Xcode integration
  • Active community support
  • Customizable configuration


  • adds complexity
  • some compatibility issues


CocoaPods is free to use and open-source, so there is no cost associated with using it in your projects. 

However, some libraries may have licensing restrictions or require payment for commercial use. It’s important to review the license of each library before including it in your project.

Swift Package Manager

Another one on the list of iOS app development tools is Swift Package Manager.

iOS app development tool - Swift Package Manager.

source: Swift Package Manager

Like CocoaPods, Swift Package Manager (SPM) is a tool for managing dependencies and building Swift projects. Some of its key features include:

  • Dependency management

    SPM allows developers to easily manage third-party dependencies in their Swift projects.
  • Build automation

    SPM automates the build process for Swift projects, making it easy to build and test your code.
  • Cross-platform support

    SPM supports building Swift code for macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and Linux.
  • Integrated with Xcode

    SPM integrates seamlessly with Xcode, making it easy to manage dependencies and build Swift projects directly from Xcode.

Pros and cons


  • Xcode integration
  • supports test coverage
  • Open-source


  • Limited to Swift
  • Limited 3rd party packages


Swift Package Manager is a free tool although the same issue that is present with Cocoapods libraries is present here.


Do you really develop iOS apps if you don’t use Alamofire?

Alamofire is an open-source HTTP networking library for iOS and macOS developers, written in Swift. 

iOS app development tool - Alamofire.

source: Alamofire

It simplifies the process of making network requests in iOS apps by providing a clear and concise API for performing common networking tasks. 

Important features

Some of the key features of Alamofire include:

  • Request and response serialization

    Alamofire can automatically convert requests and responses to and from JSON, XML, and other formats.
  • Authentication

    Alamofire supports a variety of authentication methods, including OAuth and HTTP Basic Authentication.
  • Streaming

    Alamofire supports streaming large files over HTTP, which is useful for downloading files such as images and videos.
  • Request and response validation

    Alamofire can validate requests and responses to ensure they meet certain criteria.
  • Upload and download progress tracking

    Alamofire can track the progress of file uploads and downloads, providing feedback to the user.

Alamofire has become a popular choice for iOS developers due to its ease of use and extensive feature set.

Pros and cons


  • Simple HTTP requests
  • Excellent documentation
  • Easy to use interface


  • Large file size
  • could affect performance


Alamofire is an open-source library that is completely free to use and distribute, as it is licensed under the MIT license. There is no pricing associated with the use of Alamofire. 

However, developers may need to pay for third-party services or tools that they use in conjunction with Alamofire, such as hosting or monitoring services.


Charles is a popular debugging tool for iOS development that allows developers to monitor network traffic, analyze HTTP requests and responses, and test mobile apps with throttling and breakpoints.

It also provides SSL Proxying and support for macOS and Windows, making it a versatile tool for mobile app development.

Important features

Some of the key features of Charles include:

  • SSL Proxying

    Charles allows you to view HTTPS traffic and debug SSL issues by acting as a man-in-the-middle between your device and the server.
  • Bandwidth Throttling

    You can simulate different network conditions by throttling the bandwidth or introducing latency, allowing you to test how your app performs under adverse conditions.
  • Breakpoints

    Charles allows you to intercept and modify requests and responses, set breakpoints to pause traffic, and replay traffic from a specific point, making it easier to identify issues.
  • Request and Response Analysis

    Charles provides detailed information about HTTP requests and responses, including headers, cookies, query parameters, and more.
  • Session recording

    Charles allows you to record and replay sessions, making it easier to reproduce and debug issues.
  • Remote Debugging

    Charles supports remote debugging, allowing you to monitor network traffic on devices that are not physically connected to your computer.

Pros and cons


  • SSL Proxying for HTTPS traffic
  • Bandwidth throttling and latency simulation
  • Detailed request and response analysis
  • Supports multiple operating systems


  • Steep learning curve
  • Overwhelming UI
  • High license cost
  • heavy reliance on 3rd party plugins


Charles provides a 30-day free trial and offers perpetual licenses.

A single-user license costs $50, while a 5-user license costs $25 per user.

Upgrades to major versions require an upgrade fee, and volume discounts are available for larger purchases.


Although it isn’t exclusive to iOS app development, Firebase is a must.

iOS app development tool - Firebase.

Source: Firebase

Firebase is a popular mobile and web application development platform that offers a range of powerful features and tools for developers. 

Important features

Some of the key features of Firebase include:

  • Real-time Database

    A cloud-hosted NoSQL database that allows developers to store and sync data in real-time across multiple clients.
  • Authentication

    Offers secure and easy-to-use authentication services for users to sign in with email/password, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
  • Cloud Functions

    Serverless backend code that lets developers run custom code in response to events triggered by Firebase or third-party services.
  • Cloud Messaging

    A reliable messaging solution that allows developers to send targeted messages to specific users or devices.
  • Hosting

    Fast and secure web hosting that allows developers to deploy their web apps with just a few clicks.
  • Analytics

    Provides detailed insights into user behavior, engagement, and retention.
  • Performance Monitoring

    Allows developers to monitor the performance of their app, identify and fix issues that affect user experience.
  • Remote Config

    Allows developers to remotely configure and adjust app behavior, appearance, and features without requiring a new app release.

Firebase also offers a range of other features, such as machine learning, test lab, and app distribution, making it a versatile and powerful platform for mobile and web application development.

Pros and cons


  • Easy authentication
  • Serverless platform
  • faster development


  • Difficult to migrate to other platform
  • Large SDK size


Firebase offers both free and paid plans. The free plan includes most of the core features, while the paid plan offers additional features and higher usage limits.

The pricing for the paid plan is based on usage, with costs varying depending on the specific features and usage levels.


When it comes to databases for iOS app development this is the right solution.

iOS app development tool - Realm.

source: Realm

Realm is a mobile database platform that offers fast and efficient storage solutions for iOS, Android, and web applications.

Important features

 Some of the key features of Realm include:

  • Object-Oriented Data Model

    Allows developers to store and access data as objects, making it easy to work with complex data structures.
  • Cross-Platform Sync

    Offers real-time, bi-directional synchronization of data across multiple devices and platforms.
  • Encryption and Security

    Provides advanced encryption and security features to protect data at rest and in transit.
  • Reactive Programming

    Enables developers to build responsive and interactive applications with built-in support for reactive programming.
  • Offline Capabilities

    Allows applications to continue functioning even when offline, with seamless synchronization when a network connection is re-established

Pros and cons


  • Efficient storage solution
  • advanced encryption
  • Scalable


  • Limited query capabilities
  • High memory usage


Realm offers both a free and paid version.

The free version includes most of the core features, while the paid version offers additional features and support options.

The pricing for the paid version is based on usage, with costs varying depending on the specific features and usage levels.


Postman is a popular API development tool that offers a range of features for testing, designing, and documenting APIs. 

Important features

Some of the key features of Postman include:

  • API Testing

    Allows developers to easily test and debug their APIs using a powerful test suite with support for automated testing.
  • API Design

    Provides a user-friendly interface for designing APIs, including tools for creating endpoints, defining parameters, and generating sample code.
  • Mock Server

    Enables developers to create a mock server to simulate API responses, making it easy to test and debug API calls.
  • Documentation

    Offers automated documentation generation, making it easy to share and collaborate on API documentation.
  • Collaboration

    Provides collaboration features that allow multiple team members to work on the same API project.

Pros and cons


  • Intuitive interface
  • Integrations with dev tools
  • Accessibility


  • High learning curve
  • Limited support for non-RESTful APIs


Postman offers a free version with limited functionality, as well as paid versions with additional features and support options.

iOS app development tool - Postman.

Source: Postman

The pricing for the paid versions is based on usage, with costs varying depending on the specific features and usage levels. In the iOS development context, Postman can be a valuable tool for testing and debugging APIs used in mobile applications.

Stack Overflow 

You might not immediately think of Stack Overflow as a tool for iOS app development but it can be the most effective on the list.

iOS app development tool - Stack Overflow.

source: Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is a popular online community for developers to ask and answer technical questions related to programming.

Important features

Some of the key features of Stack Overflow include:

  • Question and Answer Forum

    Provides a forum for developers to ask and answer technical questions related to programming and software development.
  • Reputation System

    Rewards users for contributing high-quality answers and questions, and allows users to build a reputation within the community.
  • Tags and Categories

    Enables users to organize and search for questions by topic or programming language.
  • Documentation and Examples

    Offers a repository of code snippets and examples to help developers solve common programming problems.
  • Community Moderation

    Moderated by a community of volunteer moderators to ensure that questions and answers meet the site’s quality standards.

Pros and cons


  • Supportive dev community
  • Wide range of topics
  • Easily searchable
  • Code snippet repository


  • Potentially overwhelming
  • Quality of answers varies


Stack Overflow offers a free version with all of the core features, as well as paid versions with additional features and support options.

In the iOS app development context, Stack Overflow can be a valuable resource for finding solutions to technical problems and getting feedback from a community of experienced developers.


Shake is a software development tool made by DECODE.

It empowers mobile app developers and QA teams globally to deliver top-notch apps by allowing them to gain insights into their app’s behavior in real-world scenarios.

iOS app development tool - Shake.

Source: Shake

The app provides comprehensive and well-structured bug and crash reports, helping developers to enhance their applications and ensure optimal performance.

Important features

Some of the key features of Shake include:

  • Real-time crash reporting

    Shake SDK allows developers to receive real-time crash reports from their mobile apps, providing them with immediate insights into issues that may be impacting their users.
  • Customizable crash reporting

    Shake provides developers with customizable crash reporting, allowing them to tailor the information they receive to their specific needs. This includes the ability to filter and group crashes based on various attributes, such as app version or device type.
  • Integration with popular development tools

    Shake integrates with popular development tools like Jira, GitHub, and Trello, making it easy for developers to create and track issues related to crashes within their existing workflows.
  • User feedback collection

    In addition to crash reporting, Shake SDK provides developers with the ability to collect feedback from users within their app. This can help developers identify and resolve issues before they result in crashes or other negative experiences.

Pros and Cons


  • scalability
  • Detailed insights
  • Real-time data visualization


  • Relies on 3rd-party services


Shake offers both free and paid plans. 

The free plan allows users to report bugs and crashes, while the paid plans offer additional features such as integrations with third-party tools, custom branding, and priority support. 

The pricing for Shake’s paid plans varies based on the number of users and apps, and the specific features included. 


In conclusion, iOS app development tools like Xcode, CocoaPods, Swift Package Manager, Postman, Firebase, Realm, and Alamofire are critical components of the iOS development toolkit. 

Xcode is the prime example. It provides an integrated development environment (IDE) for designing, coding, testing, and debugging iOS applications. 

Other mentioned tools are also important for different aspects of mobile development.

If you’d like to read more about iOS app development, feel free to check out our blogs.

Written by

Vladimir Kolbas

IOS Team Lead

When something unusual happens, Vlado is the man with an explanation. An experienced iOS Team Lead with a PhD in Astrophysics, he has a staggering knowledge of IT. Vlado has a lot of responsibilities, but still has time to help everybody on the team, no matter how big or small the need. His passions include coffee brewing, lengthy sci-fi novels and all things Apple. On nice days, you might find Vlado on a trail run. On rainier days, you’ll probably find him making unique furniture in the garage.

Related articles