updated 04:00 pm EST, Wed March 9, 2011
No Mac Developer membership required
After an extended production period, Apple has at last released the finished version of Xcode 4. The software is Apple's central tool for developers, capable of programming both Mac and iOS titles. Some upgrades over earlier releases include a new, mostly single-window interface, Fix-it auto-correction, full support for C++ in the LLVM compiler and integration of Interface Builder into the Xcode IDE.
Apple has also taken the unusual step of putting Xcode on the Mac App Store. The tool was previously available only through the Mac and iOS Developer programs, which cost $99 a year. At the Mac App Store Xcode is $5, and apparently detached from any membership requirements. The download measures 4.24GB and requires Mac OS X 10.6.6.
Xcode 4 has had a long and sometimes troubled history, going through numerous developer previews. It's in fact one of the few pieces of Apple software to have been given a second gold master release, attributable to serious bugs in the first one. Gold masters are intended to be completed code, simply made available to developers ahead of time.