iOS Dev Tools

The greatest iOS development tools, including websites, desktop and mobile apps, and back-end services.
Updated daily by Adam Swinden.

If you have any suggestions for tools that you would like to see added to the list, please let me know by email, Twitter or Facebook.

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LottieFiles

An online collection of free, high quality animation files for the Lottie animation framework. LottieFiles lets designers and animators share their animations created in Adobe After Effects for developers you use in their iOS and Android apps. All animations can be previewed on the site before downloading the JSON file ready to be used by Lottie. Some are also supplied with the original AEP file so you tweak the animation and re-export for the exact effect you're looking for.

Other Similar Tools

Micro Animations

An online marketplace of ready-made animations that you can buy as GIFs to use in your prototypes or apps. Micro Animations provides each animation as a transparent GIF in light and dark themes along with the original Photoshop file for you to tweak. All GIF animations and PNG images are royalty-free, which means they can be used in your App Store apps. And if you can't find exactly what you're looking for you could at least use the library for a bit of inspiration.

Lottie

A library for iOS and Android from the developers at Airbnb that parses Adobe After Effects animations and renders the vector animations natively on mobile. Lottie can handle animations exported as JSON using the bodymovin plugin and as the animations are backed by JSON they can be complex without being huge in size. Best of all, as the animations are rendered as vectors they can be resized, looped, sped up, slowed down, and even interactively scrubbed without any loss in quality.

Kite Compositor

A powerful animation and prototyping application for Mac & iOS. Kite Compositor provides a full suite of powerful tools that let you build complex interfaces on a WYSIWYG canvas. You can create elaborate animations using the integrated smart timeline which allows you to drag and edit animation durations, keyframes and curves. You can also import your designs from Sketch as native Kite layers, and preview your designs on iOS with the companion app. They're even working on a KiteKit framework to embed and play .kite documents right from within your own iOS or macOS apps!

Spine

An animation tool for Mac, Windows and Linux for creating 2D animations for games. Spine lets you create animations using the skeletal or cutout technique where images are attached to animatable bones, giving you much more flexibility and efficiency. Your animations are loaded and rendered in your games using one of several Spine Runtimes. Official runtimes are available for several platforms including Unity and cocos2d, as well as generic runtimes for Objective-C. There are even third party runtimes for SpriteKit.

Keyframes

A combined Adobe ExtendScript for After Effects and library for iOS and Android that lets you create high quality, vector based animations with complex shape and path curves, all with minimal file footprint. Keyframes is created by the clever developers at Facebook Incubator and makes it easy to add sophisticated vector animations from After Effects projects such as the reactions all Facebook users are familiar with. Running the ExtendScript outputs compact JSON files which can then be loaded into the library to be rendered in your app.

Squall

A tool that lets you create complex animations for your iOS app in Adobe After Effects. Squall's After Effects extension reads the active composition and outputs any relevant animation data to a sqa file. The sqa file can be used with the SDK to build a production-ready, code-based animation. For simple animations Squall can even generate Core Animation code right in After Effects. The extension also manages the communication with your iOS device, allowing you to quickly preview animations in the Squall app or your own app running the Squall SDK.

CPPlay

A C++ interpreter with OpenGL and OpenAL integration. CPPlay brings a Playgrounds style REPL to C++ with an editor that lets you see the results of your code as you write. CPPlay is built on top of LLVM and Clang making its JIT compiler very fast - code you write with CPPlay executes at near native speed, and the native code you call executes at exactly native speed. It integrates with OpenGL and OpenAL so you can import assets such as images and use GLSL shaders to quickly test out your graphics and animation ideas.

TilemapKit

A tilemap game development framework that natively supports all of Tiled Map Editor’s map types, settings and features. TilemapKit reads and writes TMX files, does all the nitty-gritty math for you, and then offers advanced features such as creating grids for pathfinding, flexible tile animations, normal-mapped lighting support and an optimized, multi-threaded renderer. TilemapKit is a source code product compatible with SpriteKit, Cocos2D and custom Objective-C engines, and it will soon be available for Cocos2D-X/C++ engines.

Codea

An app that lets you create games and simulations on your iPad using Lua. Codea is a great app for learning about building games, quickly testing out a new graphics idea, or just having fun. It comes with a complete code editor with intelligent syntax highlighting and auto-completion, and visual elements for setting colours, images and sounds. You can use the full physics engine, a fully featured 2D and 3D renderer, and live GLSL shader editor to make your games before running them live on the device. You can even export your finished projects to Xcode to produce real iOS apps.

Core Animator

A new OS X app that allows you to visually create animations for iOS and Mac apps and export them to Objective-C or Swift code. Core Animator provides powerful key framing options to enable you to make specific property changes over time. Easing splines appear between keys so that you can visually see the animation ease path at a glance. As the name suggests, it creates animations using the Core Animation framework so requires no third-party dependencies. Best of all, Core Animator is currently on launch sale at 20% off.

AsyncDisplayKit

An iOS framework from the developers at Facebook that aims to keep complex user interfaces smooth and responsive. It's built to go hand-in-hand with Pop's physics-based animations, but also works with conventional app designs and UIKit Dynamics. The framework centres around AsyncDisplayKit Nodes that provide a thread-safe abstraction layer over UIViews and CALayers. You can construct entire node hierarchies in parallel, or instantiate and size a single node on a background thread. Comes with drop-in replacements for UIImageView, UITextView and UITableView.

QuartzCode

A powerful Mac app that turns vector drawings and animations into Objective-C Core Animation code. With QuartzCode you can create shapes using the vector drawing tools provided or import existing assets from SVG or images. You can then apply animations to layers using more than 25 animation keypaths and edit the animations in real-time. Animations can be combined or sequenced and you can choose between linear timing functions, ease in, ease out or create custom timing functions using a graph to create dynamic feeling animations. iOS or OSX Objective C code is generated in real time while you make your changes ready to be pasted into Xcode. QuartzCode is a great tool for learning and mastering Core Animation.

Avocado

An open source interaction design toolbox for Quartz Composer built on top of Facebook's Origami framework. Avocado provides ready-to-use patches that can be easily combined to create fully-customized interactive prototypes without writing a line of code. While Origami provides some much-needed low-level functionalities (for instance, a Color Transition, a Switch, and so on), Avocado provides ready-to-use interaction models and animations. Examples include: Carousel - creates a swipeable carousel of images; Bistable - makes an element snap to two positions; Flip - creates a card that can be flipped back and forth; and iOS Keyboard - provides an interactive keyboard.

Schwartz

A "shell" for the Quartz 2D graphics programming API. You can use Schwartz as a sandbox in which to explore and learn Apple's graphics APIs using the Python programming language. Your Python scripts have access to the Quartz 2D graphics API. Drawing performed in Python is rendered in the Canvas area on the right. An integrated Python debugger allows you to set breakpoints and step through your graphics code for improved learning and debugging. Schwartz also features full syntax highlighting, code auto-completion with fuzzy matching, and tabs for writing your scripts; project-wide search and replace using regular expressions; and an integrated documentation browser.

tPacker

An online texture generator for creating sprite sheets, texture maps and icons. tPacker is free to get started (there is a monthly subscription to unlock all features) and is compatible with many popular games engines including Unity and Cocos2d. It supports creating texture maps from images and animation sprite sheets from individual frames including previewing the animation before exporting. It also offers generation of icons for both Android and iOS in all sizes.

Flux

An OS X app for visually creating animations & transitions for iOS. With Flux you can drag layers onto a document and set their size, colour and position then add multiple animations in the timeline editor to affect the scale, rotation and position over time. A timeline slider allows you to scrub over the timeline to show a preview of your animation as it will appear on the device. Once you are happy with the animation, Flux will generate all the Objective-C ready for Xcode.

Spriter

An app that lets you create sprites and sprite animations for your 2D game. Unlike most sprite animation apps that create each frame as a single complete image, Spriter uses the "modular" method that breaks the animation down into many small, re-useable images (such as body parts). This approach means you'll be spending much less time redrawing all your keyframes when you want to make a single small tweak. Spriter is currently in beta and free to download for Mac, Windows and Linux or you can buy the Pro version at a discount before the app is released.

Shaderific

A fully featured OpenGL Shading Language editor for iPhone and iPad. Shaderific lets you create your own vertex and fragment shaders using GLSL for OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenGL ES 3.0 and compile them on your iOS device. You can tweak your shader code and the values of the uniforms and see the effects immediately rendered in the app. The app's feature list is huge and includes a built in GLSL reference, and loads of sample shaders, objects and textures for you to get started with.

Particle Playground

A Mac app that makes it easy to create custom particle emitter classes (CAEmitterCell and CAEmitterLayer). You just drop in your particle image then adjust the emitter effect using the sliders and view the live preview in the built-in iOS simulator. Once you're happy with the effect you can export it as .h and .m files ready to be imported into your project. Really simple and easy but can save lots of time.

Glyph Designer

A bitmap font editor for Mac that makes creating good looking font textures for games a breeze. You can create textures from any of the fonts on your Mac or import any font file, and customise the look with colour, shadows and stokes. It can be used from the command line and supports many of the popular frameworks, including Cocos2D, Moai, Sparrow and Corona.

Particle Designer

A particle effects editor for Mac that offers 48 configurable properties to create custom particle effects for games. It supports many of the popular frameworks, including Cocos2D, Moai, and Sparrow. You can also share your particle effects in the massive online library or use effects created by other users.