Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) is a crucial process in mobile app development projects in Agile and DevOps cultures. Continuous Integration is the process of Integrating code at least daily and running automated tests to ensure the code is bug-free. Continuous Delivery automates building, testing, and releasing applications to ensure the app is ready to deliver to the customers at any point in time.
To build CI/CD pipelines for mobile apps, many CI/CD tools are available on the market with different features supporting both iOS and Android mobile apps pipelines. Each of those tools has its pros and cons, which teams need to consider when selecting the right tool.
This article will discuss some of the best CI/CD tools for mobile app developers in 2022. We will discuss their key features, support for creating pipelines, tests, and integrations. Finally, we will look into the pricing plans of each tool.
Jenkins is an open-source CI/CD server based in Java. It is easy to install, set up, and upgrade Jenkins on different OSs like Windows, macOS, and Linux. Its simple and easy-to-use interface makes configuring environments and creating and executing build and deployment jobs easy experiences for developers. With Jenkins master-slave architecture, you can distribute build jobs among many nodes for faster execution.
With hundreds of community-supported plugins available, Jenkins supports cross-platform mobile add development. Android developers can use the Android Emulator plugin to build apps and test on different devices. The Google Play Publisher plugin helps build a CD pipeline to release the app to the PlayStore. Also, Jenkins provides the XCode plugin to automate building and deploying iOS applications for different iOS devices.
Bamboo is another great CI/CD tool that lets you create continuous delivery pipelines that automate software application releases management. It can automatically deploy to mobile app servers such as Google Play and App Store. With Bamboo, you can run multiple tests in parallel and assign build agents for more critical deployments.
Automatic build triggers are also possible with Bamboo. You can configure bamboo to automatically trigger build jobs and integration tests whenever a change is made to a repository. It supports integration with Git, SVN, Mercurial and S3 repositories. Another useful feature of Bamboo is its pre-environment permissions which let developers and QE deploy the code to their environment.
Bamboo pricing depends on agents rather than users. For example:
One remote agent costs $1200 for unlimited jobs
100 remote agents cost $23,280 for unlimited jobs
2000 remote agents (maximum) cost $187,380 for unlimited jobs
TeamCity is JetBrains’s CI/CD tool that runs in a Java environment to automate Andriod and iOS app development build and deployment. It supports various programming languages and IDEs, including .NET, node.js, Python, and Visual Studio IDE. It is easy to install TeamCity on both Windows and Linux servers. It supports code integration from GitLab and Bitbucket.
This user-friendly continuous integration server enables multiple running builds in parallel on different environments. Also, you can configure sub-projects with TeamCity by reusing settings and configurations from the parent project. Another intuitive feature of TeamCity is its ability to run history builds and view test history reports. TeamCity also integrates with the cloud allowing you to scale out build agents AWS, EC2, MS Azure, VMware Sphere, and own Kubernetes cluster. TeamCity also provides flexible user roles assignment enabling user sorting and different authentication methods and user action logging.
CircleCI is a great tool for building CI/CD pipelines for web and mobile apps, and it is a common choice of mobile-first companies. It provides multiple XCode versions and pre-installed technologies such as Homebrew, Fastlane, and node for iOS CI/CD workflows. For Android apps, it offers pre-installed technologies Android SDK, Google Cloud, and Ruby for Fastlane.
It also provides an Android machine image for testing and configurable Android and ios apps with executing and deployments workflows. CircleCI integrates with GitHub, GitHub Enterprise, and Bitbucket. It also allows you to run your build jobs parallel and run them in a container or a Virtual Machine.
Unlike other CI/CD tools, Buddy uses over 100 built-in actions as pipeline steps. This smart CI/CD tool lets developers execute pipelines faster because the pipelines build, test, deploy only the code changes. Buddy supports integrations such as Github, Github Enterprise, GitLab, AWS, Bitbucket, and many more, and developers can also use integrations for monitoring and analytics.
Recently Buddy enabled creating delivery pipelines for iOS apps letting you continuously build and deploy them to the App Store. It will run the build on a Mac VM using XCode, React Native, Cordova, Fastlane, and Flutter SDK. You can also create pipelines for Android apps easily using their pre-built actions.
GitLab CI is another widely-used CI/CD tool that supports building pipelines for Andriod and iOS apps development, which is cheaper than other options. It has every tool required to manage each step of a software development lifecycle. With GitLab CI/CD, you can automatically trigger build jobs, unit tests, and deployments with every commit or merge request.
You can use virtual machines and Docker containers to build your jobs. GitLab Container Registry provides a secure registry for storing Docker images. One useful thing about Gitlab is, having APIs for many features that enable more complex integration.
Every price plan is for per user and month. Apart from the following plans, You can get add-ons like CI/CD minutes for $10 per 1000 minutes and storage for $60 per 10GB.
Travis CI is easy to set up, enables connecting with multiple cloud services, and integrates with HipChat, Slack, and email. Several databases and message queues are also available.
Semaphore provides a faster CI/CD for native or cross-platform mobile projects, including Android, React Native, and Flutter projects. It allows faster deployment to Google Play, iTunes, and many more with code-signing capability. With Semaphore, you can run web and mobile apps using a single platform. This hosted service can automatically scale for execution, allowing you to pay for what you use. Moreover, you can run CI/CD pipelines in any Docker image, including your pre-built image.
Another cool feature of Semaphore is its built-in pipeline template and a visual workflow builder from which you can build visual workflows and fine-tune them. Semaphore supports faster pipeline execution using parallelism and smart dependency chasing techniques.
Draftbit is a platform for creating and deploying native mobile applications for iOS and Android. It is a browser-based visual development tool that has many visual designing features. You can design any mobile app from scratch and build your components using its UI components. Furthermore, it enables you to connect with an external database and integrate third-party platforms.
Although Draftbit is not a traditional CI/CD tool, it contains many developer-grade solutions that make it part of the CI/CD stack. For example, Draftbit has a push to GitHub feature from which you can add the Draftbit code directly to a Github repository from the Draftbit builder interface. Another is its preview feature, from which you can preview your app after creating it.
Draftbit also enables exporting code directly from the Draftbit by clicking on ‘Export App,’ which will export the source code. Finally, its Share App functionality allows you to share your Draftbit app with others through a unique URL.
Mobile app CI/CD tools make app development, testing, and deployment easy for developers and testers. The CI/CD tools described above have several useful functionalities, including automatically triggering build jobs whenever developers merge code to the repository. Some tools are software-as-a-service tools that support building and deploying apps to the cloud. Many tools support different programming languages, microservices platforms, and third-party integrations, including industry-leading code repositories such as GitLab and BitBucket. Therefore when you select the right CI/CD tool, make sure to understand the architecture of your mobile app and requirements.