2 min read

iOS Application Signing Tutorial

iOS Application Signing Tutorial

I’ll start this article by saying this isn’t mentioning that this isn't suitable in all situations, especially where you’re installing many applications.

With that being said, some users, including myself, want to keep the amount of background applications installed on our Mac’s to an absolute minimum. And who doesn’t love to learn how the process works in a little more detail 🌴. #Productivity!

To follow this tutorial, you will need an Apple Developer account.
Alternatively you can register your Devices UDID on this website and download a premade developer certificate and skip ahead to step 5! -> https://www.udidregistrations.com/ (No paid endoresement).

I’ll explain WHY we’re doing each step of the process to helpp your understanding of the installation process. I hope you learn something new!

1) We’ll need to download iOS App Signer, from here specifically -> https://dantheman827.github.io/ios-app-signer. Remember to drag the downloaded Application file to your Applications Folder. This application allows us to ‘sign’ our application in order for the iPhone to Trust that the binary is legitimate and has not been modified. To shed a little more light on this, code could be injected into the application that would cause unexpected results, or permit access to unauthorised material on your iDevice. Signing binaries helps to prevent this happening in most situations and allows the installation process to be a little more controlled.

2) Launch Xcode, and create a Single View iOS App. Ensure the Team is set to your Apple ID. The ‘Team’ allows the correct certificates to be used later on when we Sign our app! We create the app in Xcode because Xcode actually has to do the same actions as we’re attempting, in a sense. It has to sign the app you are developing, and flash it to the device. The difference is, we already have the application, but we do need the certificates!

3) Head to the ‘General’ tab, and toggle ‘Automatically Manage Signing’ from off to on. You may also have to select your Team at this stage (It’s your Apple ID!) - Toggling this setting allows Xcode to generate and download the necessary certificates for your account, if it hasn’t already. An application will be assgined to a specific ‘team’ allowing Apple to control entitlements which lets an application perform certain actions such as running in the background, and essentially ties that specific application to the ‘developer’ that signed it. Think of a Team as a unique keycard for the Developer.

4) Our work in Xcode is done! Close Xcode. (Easiest step ever, I know. Gotta let all the hard work pay off ;) ). Nothing more to be said here!

5) Open iOS App Signer, and hit Browse (next to the input box). Find the IPA you’d like to sign, and select it!

6) Ensure you Identity is shown as your Apple ID, and hit Start! Woooooo!! We now have, you guessed it, a signed IPA!

7) Download Apple Configurator 2 from the App Store on your Mac. Open it up, drag the signed IPA to your iPhone (Which should be shown in this window if it’s connected via USB), and BAM! We now have our new installed application, and we now understand the process! ☀️

I hope that helps - if you run into any issues, don't hesitate to leave a comment / get in contact!

—J