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How can I get a web-based iPhone app into the App Store?

simonstl's Photo
Posted Nov 24 2009 07:35 AM

I'd like to build an iPhone app or several, but Objective C isn't for me. The HTML + CSS + Javascript route looks way more natural, but it's not obvious how to get apps built that way into Apple's App Store.

Is there a not too painful way to package a web app for distribution in the App Store?

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4 Replies

  nifone's Photo
Posted Nov 24 2009 08:20 AM

Check out PhoneGap

Think that's what you're looking for :)


Nigel Crawley
Creative Coder

Spirowave iPhone/iPod art toy
+ 3
  bjepson's Photo
Posted Nov 24 2009 02:23 PM

If you use PhoneGap, it's a lot like submitting a native app; you will still need to go through Xcode and the iPhone Developer Program Portal. From memory, the process is a little bit like this:

  • Develop and test your app in a browser
  • Set up your PhoneGap project and drop your app into it
  • Sign up for the iPhone developer program, get accepted, and pay your $99
  • Mess around in the Program Portal and generate your certificates
  • Download the necessary certificates into Xcode
  • Build your app with the correct provisioning profile
  • Submit your app
  • Wait
  • If you get rejected, fix the problem and resubmit
  • Repeat as necessary

Jonathan Stark's book, Building iPhone Apps with HTML, CSS, and Javascript, covers the process here in Chapter 8. He's also shared his experiences with app store rejection/resubmission:
  Maximiliano Firtman's Photo
Posted Dec 09 2009 10:09 AM

You may use a hybrid solution. This is a native Objective-C solution with the web-based solution (HTML, Javascript, CSS) embedded. You will need an Intel-based Mac OS and the iPhone SDK to create this kind of project.

If you won't need to access native features (accelerometer, vibration, etc.) you won't need PhoneGap or other framework. You should only add the web solution to the root folder of your X-Code project (native solution) and use a full-screen UIWebView control loaded with the main HTML file of your web solution.

You can also point your UIWebView control to an online URL and create just an application with icon and AppStore distribution that only work as a Mobile Safari without the toolbars. All your files will be on your web server.

If you only want to have the users an icon in the Home Screen, you don't need the AppStore. You can just use the meta tags available in Mobile Safari.
Maximiliano Firtman
O'Reilly Author
ARFUG Manager - Adobe User Group
Forum Nokia Champion
firt.mobi / @firt
  GordonMeyer's Photo
Posted Jan 08 2010 09:05 AM

Apple has a directory of web apps for iPhone. It's not the App Store, but if you have a web app, it's worth adding a listing for your product. See http://www.apple.com/webapps/ (There's a submission link in the right-hand column.)