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You can get a developer account, build and sign your own executables, and run whatever you want on your iPhone.

I don’t think those flashed ROMs give you appreciably more “control” over your iPhone than stock iOS provides, because actual control requires usable control surfaces. More likely, you are replacing the control surfaces provided by an accountable entity (Apple) who has prioritized your security and privacy and provides a constant stream of updates to maintain that, with what exactly?

The entire iOS feature set is designed to protect your personal data, from outside attackers who would seek to compromise it, to insider threats like apps trying to siphon off more than you might expect, to end-users inadvertently giving away their own (or your) data without a care in the world.

The security that a modern iPhone provides to its owner is truly a remarkable and commendable experience overall. I am extremely happy we as consumers have the choice to purchase exactly such a device.




The iOS feature set is intended to protect Apple's business model and revenue streams by forcing you to do things in Apple's jail. Getting a developer account is obviously an absurd and impractical approach to distribute software and proposing this is frankly ridiculous. It's not free, requires you own a Mac, and is way beyond the technical abilities of most users.


> requires you own a Mac

I mostly agree with you, but you don't necessarily need a Mac in order to use your developer account for sideloading—you can also use Cydia Impactor which is available for Windows/Linux.


> You can get a developer account, build and sign your own executables, and run whatever you want on your iPhone.

Sure, for an extra $100 every single year. Apple charging money for a feature does not protect users.


> Apple charging money for a feature does not protect users.

The $99 is not likely to make them money. It is a token fee to protect the app store from the simplest spam and scam apps.


Sure, it's a mere token for Apple, but it is a significant, recurring financial and logistical hurdle for me when I simply want the ability to use my pocket computing/surveillance device -- which I've already paid for -- in ways I deem fit.


This is a pretty significant shifting of the goalposts.

The argument was users should have the ability to run whatever code they want on their iPhones. That is actually possible today.

It costs a $100/year, which considering the costs of the phones is pretty reasonable. Part of the reason it has to cost something non-trivial is because otherwise it would encourage massive piracy, which would devalue the entire App Store (in fact exactly what we see on Android).

If the argument is users should be able to run whatever code they want, but they also must have free access to the development tools and resources like Xcode and Dev Center (which cost how many tens or hundreds of millions to develop?) then you’ve totally lost me.

I understand and appreciate the principle that it should generally be possible to develop and run the programs of your choosing on smartphone-type hardware. In no way should a company be forced to spends millions of dollars to facilitate that at scale if that’s not their business model, particularly when it would primarily be used to directly attack their ecosystem.


> The argument was users should have the ability to run whatever code they want on their iPhones. That is actually possible today.

Technically possible, fine. But there's a big gulf between "possible" and "not extremely painful".

Let's say I create a personal fork of the open source Bitwarden password manager, to add some trivial quirk that makes the software better fit my life. How do you propose I actually use my custom version without paying Apple an extra $100 per year?

Every 7 days, my version of the app will suddenly refuse to launch, until I get back to my computer and re-sign it. I would need to create a weekly calendar reminder, and never go on vacation without a computer nearby. Oh, and I'd better not have more than three of these forks, because that's another limitation for free accounts.

The 7 day limit is not Apple refusing to provide "free access to the development tools", it's an artificial restriction explicitly created to make running un-blessed code impractical for more than rudimentary testing.


It sounds like the problem you have isn't that it's not possible, but that it's not free (as in beer).

The free account is good for playing around with the environment and learning how to write code for iOS. It is not well suited for running production software on your phone. If you want to run production software on your phone, blessed or unblessed, you probably want to pay Apple $100/yr for the longer duration and higher app limit.

In my opinion, if you could do what you wanted for free, it would contribute massively to app piracy, and devalue the work of millions of developers on the App Store. $100/year is at about the right level to dissuade most people from circumventing the App Store (the average Apple user spends ~$75/year on the App Store).

> ...it's an artificial restriction explicitly created to make running un-blessed code impractical for more than rudimentary testing.

Crucially, paying Apple $100/year does not mean they ever see or have to bless code you deploy to your own devices. It just removes the limits in the development environment!


Allowing side-loading would probably contribute to app piracy somewhat, but I don't think it would have as large an effect as you describe. Android's customer base is less wealthy overall, and less likely to have payment information in the play store. I would look to Mac rather than Android for a more realistic picture of what the piracy landscape would look like. It's not bad.

But, I also fundamentally believe we shouldn't be restricting user freedoms to protect copyright.

$100 a year is completely and utterly cost-prohibitive for a lot of people, even within the context of someone who already owns an iPhone. A lot of children begin coding so they can create something for themselves, or change one thing in an application. With a 7-day limit, who would want to do that? While it's true that free accounts can technically experiment with coding, there's not much incentive when you can't really _use_ anything you've created.

I worry about a generation of children who is given iPads rather than computers. Sure, most of them would never have touched code anyway, and that's fine. But iOS completely removes the incentive to learn and explore—to actually hack and tweak and create the tools we use everyday, instead of blindly consuming them.


> I worry about a generation of children who is given iPads rather than computers.

I’m pretty sure they said the same thing about shells when GUI came along.

> But iOS completely removes the incentive to learn and explore...

I guess I just have an entirely different perspective on this. If the PC was a bicycle for the mind, what we have now is a veritable rocket ship. Consider the devices, peripherals, platforms, APIs, connectivity, distribution, and tooling that is available today for anyone with any interest in creative artistic expression, be it coding, non-textual programming, or otherwise...

Anyone with a inventive flair is going to look at the mind-bogglingly advanced technology that a billion people are carrying around and just salivate at the opportunity that provides.

Modern devices and the modern Internet may placate the masses, but they are likewise catnip and catapult for anyone who wants to code the next great solution for Problem X.


If you want to develop applications (or run arbitrary code) on their stack, which they spend billions of dollars developing and maintaining, yes, it will cost you $100/year.

Or you can get a free dev account, but the feature set it more limited and signatures are only good for 7 days.

Apple charges money for features so that they remain in business to keep making more features, and security updates too. So it is, in fact, exactly how they protect users.


> And signatures are only good for 7 days.

And again, how does that restriction protect users? As I see it, it's entirely user-hostile: it ensures any self-created apps aren't really usable.

If the limit was significantly longer, I would mostly shut up about all of this.


Who is this hypothetical person who can afford a Mac and the time to learn how to how to develop iOS applications and yet cannot afford $100 a year? Usually I'm all in favour of freedom, but I just can't see who's actually affected by this.


Okay, here's a personal example:

Apple does not allow dictionary apps on the App Store which actually use the word definitions built into iOS—they are required to provide their own definitions, which either take up precious storage space or are not available offline.

So, I found some old WTFPL-licensed code on Github, spent an hour or so futzing around to make it compile and look pretty on iOS 12 (because I had no clue what I was doing), and came up with this: https://github.com/Wowfunhappy/Dictionary. It works super well, and I use it every day on my phone.

The only reason I can use this app is because I'm Jailbroken.


You spent the time to Jailbreak the phone, but couldn't you also have just paid $100/year for the license to be able to build your own personal apps which can be deployed on your personal devices for 1 year at a time?


Well, that's not why I Jailbroke my phone. I Jailbroke my phone so I could:

• Install a Userscript to de-AMP pages in Google search results.

• Prevent Apple News from saving a history of what articles I read, thus disabling their recommendation engine and preventing a filter bubble.

• Add an extra row of app icons to my homescreen, so I can fit all my apps on one page.

• Get a warning when I set an alarm for PM rather than AM.

...and countless other little things.

Separately, I consider $100 an awful lot of money, especially for a subscription, which I try really hard to keep out of my life.


It's the person who doesn't know how to do that yet. Most people don't get started in software development by writing their own operating system kernel. They're using an existing application with published source code and want to make a little change. It's an ugly hack written by a teenager, they just want to use it for themselves. They'll get better at it as they do it more.

But now you say they have to buy a Mac and pay $100/year. Well, that's a no for that little initial change, so now they never get started to begin with.


Really? GNU/Linux doesn't thrive on billions and provides a near perfect functional alternative. Darwin/XNU is libre software, so it's a contradiction to make people pay for the right to program.


If you have a “near perfect functional alternative” then what exactly is the complaint?

Demanding all software be free is also demanding the end to freedom. People want iOS to be more open because of the incredible value of iOS. Not because there’s an equivalent free alternative at hand they simply didn’t notice.

> Darwin/XNU is libre software, so it's a contradiction to make people pay for the right to program.

This does not make logical sense? That other free software exists is not an argument that all software must be free. Apple has a business model which increasingly relies on selling services and licenses on iOS over selling new hardware. That’s their choice for how to fund their operations, which I’m very happy that they are free to make!

Being forced to make all my code freely available would be an appalling restriction on my own personal freedom. Not to diminish the brutal history of slavery, but what gives someone the right to free access to my work?


>is the complaint?

That Apple's investment of billions into the ecosystem is not an argument I see valid, given the alternatives.

>all software must be free.

Heavens, that's not what I'm saying. I find it contradictory that Apple have open sourced an entire operating system and an entire kernel, and are kvetching over a mere privilege to begin approaching a distro of their OS. I'm not fighting the freedom fight, I'm in awe of the bait-and-switch they're employing.


I think they are trying to protect a billion dollar ecosystem which is their App Store.

Apple's App Store earns developers something like 50%+ more revenue than equivalent apps on Android. No small part of that is due to the ease of piracy on Android.

I do not see any contradiction, nor any "bait-and-switch". The operating system and a kernel are not the services engine which keeps their company running. Open sourcing that code doesn't imperil their primary revenue streams.


The very foundation their ecosystem runs on is free and open source, and up for grabs for forking and modification. However, their proprietary app store is not, and neither is force-loading my own custom apps. In my point of view, this is where I see the contradiction.

Granted the worldwide open source community has had and has nearly zero interest in making a darwin distro with a minimalistic tiling window manager, or anything similar. Yet I see gnu/linux developers create dozens of linux distros and dozens of functionally identical window managers. So much for side-rant.


That hasn't been the case since 2016, when Apple changed it so the fee is just needed to publish to the App Store.


No, it's also needed to install a self-made app on my phone for longer than 7 days at a time. That 7 day restriction is far too low to be reasonable for normal use.


"You shouldn't be concerned about freedom because you're not gonna use it/need it anyways."

That's what your comment boils down to. You really want to go down that road of an argument? On a website that has hacker culture in its very name?


Hacker News doesn't really have anything to do with the hacker culture, except yes, having the word "hacker" in its name


You can run anything you want, but you can't not run anything you want.




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