Can I have my Cocoa app install custom iOS apps?

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by Billy Boo Bob, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. Billy Boo Bob macrumors 6502

    Billy Boo Bob

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    #1
    So I'm working on this big Cocoa app to start with, but eventually there'll be an accompanying iOS app to tap into it. Due to NDA I can't get into details about this app, but a close parallel would be, say, used car lots. So going with that as the psudo-type of app…

    Each used car dealer would have their own copy of the main Cocoa app. Each dealer also has their own garage where they service any incoming vehicles before resale. The Cocoa app is used to track progress of servicing, along with sales and customer info and other details about the car.

    The idea is to have an iOS app that will act as a front end to the database so someone could use it to enter/edit details about vehicles and customers while out and about in the lot or garage.

    Up until now I've only glanced through the steps about creating and deploying iOS apps, and in 99% of discussions it's always about submitting to the App Store. What I'm wondering, though, is if Apple provides an easy way for an iOS app to be distributed from within a Cocoa app so it can be tied down to that base installation. In this used car scenario, what I'm wanting is for not only the iOS app to be only available (loadable) from within the Cocoa app, but also hard wired, possibly, so that there is no way the iOS app can even connect to another copy of the Cocoa app at another dealer.

    It'll be some time before the iOS app will be made, so I'm not looking for any hard core details right now… Just a big picture look at what I can plan for. This is a very vertical market so placing the iOS app on the App Store wouldn't make any sense (and for security reasons, I'd rather not have it publicly available).

    Does this sound like it's going to be viable?

    Thanks.
     
  2. chown33 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    #2
    A B2B app is most likely to be "viable":
    https://developer.apple.com/programs/volume/b2b/


    I find your use of the term "Cocoa app" to be confusing. I assume you mean the OS X app. "Cocoa app" is confusing because the API in iOS is called "Cocoa touch", but is still "Cocoa". Also, many of the Cocoa frameworks are identical, so one could write a Cocoa app, say a server, and it could be compiled for either iOS or OS X.
     
  3. ArtOfWarfare macrumors 604

    ArtOfWarfare

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    Nov 26, 2007
    #3
    Maybe have your OS X app turn the Mac into a server that presents a web app when iOS clients navigate to the right URL?

    Not totally sure about the details as I'm not terribly experienced with networking stuff, but I think I'd look into doing something like that if I had such strict requirements, rather than making a native iOS app.
     
  4. Billy Boo Bob thread starter macrumors 6502

    Billy Boo Bob

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    #4
    Sorry about that. I guess I should have been more clear. Yeah, the "Cocoa app" does refer to OS X app.
     
  5. Billy Boo Bob thread starter macrumors 6502

    Billy Boo Bob

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    #5
    I've certainly considered that as a fallback option since I'll probably be using WebAppKit for the comms backbone, and will have to if I end up just doing a web app. I'd really like to go native, though, for it.
     
  6. chrfr macrumors 603

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    Jul 11, 2009
    #6
    Even B2B apps are installed via iTunes. Apple provides no other means of getting apps onto iOS devices at this point.
     
  7. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    #7
  8. Billy Boo Bob thread starter macrumors 6502

    Billy Boo Bob

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    #8
    *That's* what I was thinking of. I knew I had read about that somewhere a while back. I guess Apple could stand to update their pages a bit there. They still show and talk about using Xcode 4. :)

    Well, if this thing works out to where we need an iOS app to go along with it, that will mean that we've sold enough copies to where 300 bucks a year will be affordable. I'll look into it deeper when the time comes. Still have a LOT of work to do on the OS X app.

    Thanks.
     
  9. chrfr macrumors 603

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    #9
    The Enterprise developer program is only for apps being distributed within an organization. You can't sell apps that way, so if each of these dealers are a separate company, this isn't a viable option.
     
  10. Billy Boo Bob thread starter macrumors 6502

    Billy Boo Bob

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    #10
    I knew it sounded too good to be true. So it looks like web app, or App Store with tight security for logging into the OS X app. Ugh.
     
  11. Anim, Feb 7, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014

    Anim macrumors 6502a

    Anim

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    Location:
    Macclesfield, UK
    #11
    It's a grey area too. I wrote an Enterprise App that was distributed by their own web server years ago. They were an international medical consultant company who sold bespoke software to hospital clinics worldwide. I passed all the code over to them when it was complete and I knew they were in talks with Apple directly on how they could do this. It wasn't B2B but some kind of Enterprise agreement they had. Obviously they could not agree to the normal "must be within the same organisation" part, being consultants.

    I don't know how they got on as I left that company a few years ago to go solo.

    I know in the early days they were thinking of offering the app for free on the app stores to make distribution less of a pain so it needed a subscription based login of some kind (like Netflix, Dropbox apps etc)

    As for security, you can use OpenSSL with SQLCipher which allows for realtime encryption of all data and works great with SQLite. Keep in mind that you have to declare to Apple your app uses encryption.

    Anim
     
  12. Billy Boo Bob thread starter macrumors 6502

    Billy Boo Bob

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    #12
    Well, I'm not so worried about somebody intercepting data as it's being transmitted between iOS and OS X. I'm more concerned about a competitor driving near enough to the building to catch WiFi (which should be secured by password and the point would be moot, but we're talking general non-tech-savvy public here) and logging into the system to poke around.

    There's plenty of ways to stop it, though. The aforementioned WiFi password, coupled with a password to connect to the server (OS X app), etc... I'll work it out. Have plenty of time for that.
     

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