HomeGuidesReferenceLearn

Create a development build

Learn how to create development builds for a project.


If you are looking to create a development build locally, rather than remotely on EAS, you can create local builds with npx expo run:[android|ios] or with eas build --local.

Development builds can be created with EAS Build or locally on your computer, if you have Android Studio and Xcode installed.

In this guide, you'll find information on creating a development build with EAS and installing it on an emulator/simulator or a physical device to continue developing your app.

Prerequisites

All you will need an React Native Android and/or iOS project that is configured to build with EAS Build. If you haven't configured your project yet, refer to the "Create your first build" page.

Instructions

The following instructions cover both Android and iOS and physical devices and emulators. You can use whichever instructions are relevant to your project. If you would prefer a video over text, you can skip to "Video walkthroughs".

1

Install expo-dev-client

Terminal
npx expo install expo-dev-client
Are you using this library in a bare React Native app?

2

Verify your eas.json configuration

The first time you ran the eas build command, it creates an eas.json file at the root of your project directory. The eas.json includes with three default build profiles — development, preview, and production. If you have removed the development profile since you first initialized eas.json, you should add it back now. A minimal configuration is shown below:

eas.json
{
  "build": {
    "development": {
      "developmentClient": true,
      "distribution": "internal"
    },
    "preview": {
      "distribution": "internal"
    },
    "production": {}
  }
}

The development profile sets the following options:

  • developmentClient to true to create a Debug build. It also generates a build artifact you can install on an Android device or emulator, or an iOS device with internal distribution.
  • Building for an iOS device requires an Apple Developer Program membership. If you don't have one, you can only build for an iOS Simulator. See the next step for more information.

iOS builds where developmentClient is set to true on the build profile should always be distributed as internal. If you are distributing for TestFlight, you have to set the distribution to store.

3

Create a build for emulator/simulator

Follow the steps below to create and install the development build on an Android Emulator or an iOS Simulator.

This is only required if you want to develop a project on an emulator/simulator. Otherwise, skip these steps if you are using a device.

Each platform has specific instructions you'll have to follow:

To create and install the development build on an Android Emulator, you will need an .apk. To create it, run the following command:

Terminal
eas build --profile development --platform android

After the build is complete, the CLI will prompt you to automatically download and install it on the Android Emulator. When prompted, press Y to directly install it on the emulator.

See Build APKs for Android Emulators and devices for more information.

To create and install a development build on an iOS Simulator, we recommend you create a separate build profile for the simulator and then set the ios.simulator option to true in the eas.json.

For example, the development-simulator profile below is only for creating a development build for iOS Simulator:

eas.json
{
  "build": {
    "development-simulator": {
      "developmentClient": true,
      "distribution": "internal",
      "ios": {
        "simulator": true
      }
    }
  }
}

Then, run the following command to create the development build on an iOS Simulator:

Terminal
eas build --profile development-simulator --platform ios

After the build is complete, the CLI will prompt you to automatically download and install it on the iOS Simulator. When prompted, press Y to directly install it on the simulator.

See Installing build on the simulator for more information.

4

Create a build for the device

Follow the steps below to create and install the development build on an Android or an iOS device. Each platform has specific instructions you'll have to follow:

If you have created a development build for Android Emulator, you do not need to create it separately for the device. You can skip this step since the same .apk will work in both scenarios.

To create and install the development build on an Android device, you will need a .apk. To create it, run the following command:

Terminal
eas build --profile development --platform android

After the build is complete, copy the URL to the .apk from the build details page or the link provided when eas build has finished. Then, send that URL to your device and open it on your device to download and install the .apk.

Apple Developer membership is required to create and install a development build on an iOS device.

To register any iOS device you'd like to develop onto your ad hoc provisioning profile, run the following command:

Terminal
eas device:create

After registering your iOS device, you can create the development build by running the command:

Terminal
eas build --profile development --platform ios

Devices running iOS 16 and above require enabling a special OS-level Developer Mode to install development builds. If you don't have this setting enabled or are installing your first development build on your device, see iOS Developer Mode to enable it.

After the build is complete, you can download it on your iOS device by scanning the QR code from the device's camera from the Expo CLI. The QR code is provided when the eas build command has finished running.

You can also find this QR code on the build page in the Expo dashboard. Click the Install button and scan the QR code using the system's camera.

Video walkthroughs

"Build and Deploy React Native Apps with Expo EAS"

A course on egghead.io that covers all of the information from this page, and more.

"Async Office Hours: How to make a development build with EAS Build"

Learn how to make a development build with EAS Build in this video tutorial hosted by Developer Success Engineer: Keith Kurak.