Joining the Apple Developer Program

Find out about the Apple Developer Program, learn the benefits it provides, and decide when you should become a paid member.

The first step in the process of learning to develop Swift-based apps for Apple platforms involves gaining an understanding of the advantages of enrolling in the Apple Developer Program and deciding the point at which it makes sense to pay to join. With these goals in mind, this chapter will outline the costs and benefits of joining the developer program, and it will walk through the steps involved in enrolling.

Downloading Xcode 12

The latest version of Xcode can be downloaded free of charge from the macOS App Store. Since the tools are free, this raises the question of whether to enroll in the Apple Developer Program or to wait until it becomes necessary later in your app development learning curve.

Apple Developer Program

Membership in the Apple Developer Program currently costs $99 per year to enroll as an individual developer. Organization-level membership is also available.

Before the introduction of iOS 9 and Xcode 7, one of the key advantages of the developer program was that it permitted the creation of certificates and provisioning profiles to test your applications on physical devices. Fortunately, this is no longer the case, and all that is now required to test apps on physical devices is an Apple ID.

Clearly, much can be achieved without the need to pay to join the Apple Developer Program. There are, however, areas of app development that cannot be fully tested without program membership. Of particular significance, Siri integration, iCloud access, Apple Pay, Game Center, and In-App Purchasing can only be enabled and tested with Apple Developer Program membership.

Of further significance, Apple Developer Program members have access to technical support from Apple’s support engineers (though the annual fee initially covers the submission of only two support incident reports, more can be purchased). Membership also includes access to the Apple Developer forums: an invaluable resource both for obtaining assistance and guidance from other developers and for finding solutions to problems that others have encountered and subsequently resolved.

Program membership also provides early access to the pre-release Beta versions of Xcode and Apple’s operating systems.

By far the most important aspect of the Apple Developer Program is that membership is a mandatory requirement to publish an application for sale or download in the App Store.

Clearly, program membership is going to be required at some point before your application reaches the App Store. The only question remaining is when exactly to sign up.

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