Can you program on an iPad?


I’m very new to this and looking to develop a program for the iPad. I got the Objective-C Programming book and am anxious to start, but have a question. Can you ONLY program on a Mac Desktop/laptop, or can you download the Xcode to your iPad and write the program while on your iPad?

I ask because at work I only have a PC (not by choice) and had limited time at home to practice on my iMac. Therefore the best chance I have is to use my iPad, but can’t find anything that says either way if that is truly possible.

Thank you.

Hi Jeff,

i’m new to this, too.
But i think it isn’t possible to develop using your iPad. You need XCode for developement, which is not available as an app.


Xcode is only available on OS X (i.e., the desktop), so no, you can’t develop apps using Xcode on the iPad.

There is an app for the iPad called Codea (formerly Codify) that lets you program in the Lua language, but these programs are only local to your iPad, and cannot be loaded/sold on the App Store.



But would it allow me to practice writing codes and doing the projects found in the book? I think once I show I can get this stuff running I will but the developers kit from Apple and get permission from my work to stay at homes some days just writing code on my iMac.


No Lua is not objective-c.

what you can do is download xcode for free. it comes with an iOS simulator. So although you can’t install and run your apps on an iPad you can practice.

Which is a good way to see if you REALLY want to do this.

Sorry, but I’m a little confused.

You said I can download xcode for free and it includes an iOS simulator. But how does this get on my iPad so I can practice writing the code? And is the free version only for lion or will it run on snow leopard? I haven’t been able to find an xcode for free that runs on snow leopard.

Sorry for all the questions. I’m just anxious to start the programming in the book to see if this is something feasible for me.


There are a few serious code editors on the iPad. Textastic looks quite promising.

However, there are at least two significant problems with using an app like that: there’s no way to compile code to see if what you’re writing is useful, and Objective-C is a very verbose language (at least with the Cocoa framework) and the lack of autocomplete will probably drive you crazy once you’re used to Xcode.

You can download Xcode 3 for Snow Leopard via the Mac dev center ( You need to be a registered (not necessarily a paid) developer to get very far, and it’s free.

You can’t run Xcode on an iPad, and despite my earlier note on Textastic, you really don’t want to go that route either. You’re going to have to make time on your Mac for this. Writing code without seeing it work (by compiling and running it) is neither useful nor satisfying when you’re just starting out.

agree with macintux.

Textastic only helps you write code but it doesn’t compile or run it . and when you are learning you will be making lots of mistakes. (everybody does. its how to learn after all)

The point of getting xcode for free on your mac would be you learn to program on your own. study it for a few weeks on your own time. THAN try to convince your work its something worth investing with. when you have something worth showing them.
I highly recommend it. it will help you in more ways than just figuring out how to program the iPad. you’ll see on a deep level how things work.

but as we’ve already said a few times. you can’t program from “the book” (i assume you mean the objective-c guide) straight onto the iPad. for now, a mac is the only way to go.

Sounds like that will have to be my plan of action. Thank you very much for all the help and insight.