Apple unveils Xcode Cloud: what it means and what we know so far

Apple recently wrapped up its WWDC 2021 keynote where they announced Xcode Cloud, a CI/CD tool that lets developers build, test, and deploy apps across Apple devices in the cloud. This is where you'll find our first impressions.

Announced yesterday, Xcode Cloud joins Apple’s suite of tools for developers, allowing them to build, test, and deliver apps using a cloud-based CI/CD service. Built into Xcode 13, Xcode Cloud offers a range of interesting features — such as automated compatibility testing — and intends to equip iOS developers with better native tools. A limited free beta is available now and will be expanded throughout the summer and fall, with a full release intended for next year.   

Bitrise and Xcode Cloud? It’s elementary…

Competition in the mobile CI/CD space has been lacking ever since the Buddybuild acquisition, and we believe competition breeds improvement: Years ago, trying to out-develop our friends over in Vancouver helped us build Bitrise into the industry-leading platform it is today. Additionally, improvements made to Apple’s mobile developer toolset will help us support iOS developers on Bitrise even better going forward. We’re eager to make iOS teams on Bitrise even more effective, by leveraging cloud-based code signing and other features.

Bitrise will continue to excel in all of the areas it already does: cross-platform support, our recently released high-speed Gen-2 infrastructure, a fully-featured Step library making getting started quick and painless, and great customizability that makes Bitrise the perfect platform for teams of all sizes, regardless of the complexity of their processes or their unique challenges and requirements.

Bitrise’s vision remains truer than ever: enable mobile teams to do their best work, via an end-to-end Mobile DevOps solution for all mobile platforms — from your first build to the millionth. Xcode Cloud is a welcome entry to the CI/CD arena that will help enable more developers and encourage them into the Apple ecosystem.

When will Xcode Cloud be available for the public?

Xcode Cloud will be available to developers in a limited beta starting today. Apple said it will expand access to its free beta throughout the summer and fall, with a full launch expected "within a year".

How much will Xcode Cloud cost?

Pricing and availability details were not given at Monday's WWDC keynote, but Apple promised that more information will be shared with developers this fall.

What is Cloud Signing?

In Xcode 13, when using automatic signing, you no longer need a distribution certificate and private key installed locally. This local signing process would often require manual setup, interrupting your distribution workflow. Now, certificates and keys can be stored securely in the cloud, with the signing process happening automatically in the background. This change is a blessing for Bitrise users wishing to fully automate their distribution workflow.

What does the Xcode Cloud announcement mean for Bitrise and its users? Will Xcode Cloud offer multiplatform support?

Xcode cloud is only designed for iOS, which means that organizations and teams that build Android and/or cross-platform apps will still benefit from a solution that manages to support reusability and the management of all platforms. Since Xcode Cloud isn't a fully connected, open CI/CD platform the expectation is that integrating with your existing non-Apple tools and processes will be difficult, or even impossible. Currently, Xcode cloud seems built mostly for smaller teams and indie developers.

How will Xcode Cloud be different from Bitrise, for iOS apps?

Xcode Cloud offers a set of features Bitrise does not yet support, such as data encryption at rest, IDE integration, inline comments in PRs, and extra testing features. Bitrise, however, will continue to provide a scalable, all-around solution for iOS, thanks to our own unique features:

  • Cross-platform hardware and support
  • High-speed Gen-2 machines
  • Dedicated IPs
  • Client & Site-to-Site VPN
  • A Step library consisting of over 320 Steps for more customizable Workflows
  • Remote dependencies and debugging
  • Integration with third-party tools, like fastlane
  • Caching
  • Enterprise support
  • Real device testing, video testing, and third-party device farms
  • Deployment integrations & public install page
  • Support & onboarding

Will Xcode Cloud allow support for older versions of SDKs?

Xcode Cloud needs a Mac running the latest beta version of Xcode 13 and macOS Big Sur. Bitrise, however, supports various stacks with different macOS and Xcode versions to support our customers in building their apps for different targets.

What’s next?

We eagerly await more news from Apple over the coming year, as they begin to fill in the gaps we’ve outlined in this article. If you’re itching to give it a spin yourself, you can sign up for the beta on Apple’s website now.

As for us, we have exciting news to share in the next few weeks about our high-speed Gen-2 infrastructure. For speed, flexibility, and scalability, we still have you covered. Reach out to us and find out for yourself.

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Start building now, choose a plan later.