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This page attempts to document freedom issues with Apple IOS devices.

Free software applications

This section document if it's possible to install free software on devices running this operating system. Many websites encourage people to run free software applications, and to do that, some of them list free software applications that can be used to do certain tasks. In such lists there are often applications for Apple IOS too, however there is not much details about the potential freedom issues when running such applications. For instance are such applications really free software?

There are several ways to install an application on such devices:

  • Use the Apple's AppStore: This requires the user to accept its terms of services. I didn't understand if in practice it allowed free software in the app store or not. Other restrictions that do not appear in the terms of services might render the applications distributed through the Appstore nonfree. Applications such as VLC are free software when downloaded from the VLC website but the binary distributed by the Appstore may not be free anymore. Legally speaking, one of the license VLC is distributed under (The MPL) permits to have non-free binaries.
  • Jailbreak the device: This is not always possible (it depends on the device and the operating system version) and it often requires to run proprietary software to do so, and often also requires running non-free operating systems such as Microsoft Windows or Apple OSX.
  • Registering for the apple developer program, and sign the application to be able to run it: This requires to run proprietary software to sign the software(Xcode and/or codesign), probably requires you to accept some terms and conditions and cost 99$ per year.
  • Use Xcode 7 (proprietary software) to sign the application:[1] Here it also requires to run proprietary software (Xcode and/or codesign), probably requires you to accept some terms and conditions of this software, and the applications installed that way have a time limit of 7 days[2].

If free software cannot be used on such devices, the solution would be to instead explain the issue and to advise not to use any devices running Apple IOS.

Operating system


  • You might be able to exchange the device with another device with similar specifications that has less freedom issue. Several websites enable people to buy and sell second hand devices.
  • You might be able to sell the device and buy one with less freedom issues