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TL;DR How can I have a permanent profile for my Xcode-developped app on my own iPhone so that I could use it without having to rebuild it from Xcode every 6 days, likely by issuing myself the needed certificat and provisioning files ?


I'm an aspiring iOS developer and have built my first app, using the tools and language proposed by Apple (Xcode, Swift, SwiftUI). Works fine in Xcode and on my iPhone. I'm quite happy with it.

However after 6 days, the app stops working on the iPhone; the iPhone needs to be reconnected to my Mac and the app needs to be rebuilt from Xcode, then it works again.

I understand that this comes from the provisioning profile being managed by Xcode and being temporary (6 days).

I understand enlisting in Apple Developer Program would be a workaround, but I find it quite abusive to be forced to pay 99€ per year to use and tune my own app on my own device. I even read an old post saying that if I enlisted, my app would cease to work within a year if I delisted from the program. This is certainly not advertised loudly by Apple !

I understand they may be issues protecting the apple store monopoly, and hence apple business model, but I find it quite at odds with Apple official PR that promotes learning kids to develop and at the same time is preventing anyone to be able to use the programs freely for themselves.

So I would like to understand if this is a mandatory policy from Apple, or if I am missing something about managing provisioning profiles (sofar a total black box to me).

To be crystal clear, if there is a workaround, I believe it is about bypassing Xcode managing the certification process and creating myself the needed authorizations : development certificate for developer approval and permanent provisioning profile for my authorized device.

I make the hypothesis that it is not possible nor practical not to use Apple solutions, and that the problem is actually independent from the use of Xcode.

To rephrase it, my problem is :
Is it possible to develop an iOS application for my own use without having to pay 99$/year ?

And my understanding of path to solution is : How can I have a permanent profile for my Xcode-developped app on my own iPhone ?

Precision : I am not trying to launch a heated debate on jailbreaking, nor on the app store guidelines. I just want to understand wether in the current Apple ecosystem, if I want some applications of my own with me, I need to pay several hundreds of dollars in the next years to have the possibility to do it.

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  • Forgive the massive edit, but let’s be very terse in the back story. Keeping it strictly facts let’s people with strong opinions focus on the technical situation. Hopefully someone smart has a way to avoid a jailbreak, but you may need to control the device for this to happen – bmike Oct 14 '20 at 17:59
  • To mbike : I find your editing quite abusive, since you left some orthograph errors in your message, stripped some important context and changed the motivation of my message, even deformed my thoughts. So I rolled back to original content. – Hugues Oct 14 '20 at 18:02
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    The most seamless solution (relative to other, even worse options) that isn't a full jailbreak is probably AltStore.io, I would look there. – Wowfunhappy Oct 14 '20 at 18:09
  • I‘ve moved the question to the beginning (and removed the part about SO and SU) so people can focus on the actual problem you want to solve. – nohillside Oct 14 '20 at 18:10
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    No, getting a perpetual certificate is not possible. This is something that drives me nuts about iOS, but it is what it is. Even developer certs only last a year. It's possible that perpetual enterprise certs exit, but the ones I know of are also yearly (and you can't get them). The only way out is to jailbreak. – Wowfunhappy Oct 14 '20 at 19:57
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Quite simply, if you jailbreak your iOS device you can likely skip the code expiration checks. We have lots of questions on doing this tethered, so this might not even be a complete duplicate. I’ll leave how to jailbreak for another post since that is a moving target based on your hardware and time of year, release details.

For those that can’t spend the time to reverse engineer this, the $100 is a fair trade off, but for science and for some, I can understand why paying Apple to provide all the tools and code seems attractive if you can keep your test devices secured as designed.

The best way to develop without paying Apple is to use your own tools, and not Xcode. Python, shell, web apps, all sorts of interpreted code and widget apps exist now, as do cloud based solutions that compile down to native code and avoid paying Apple directly.

Your “I need a signed profile” request is the technical term for jailbreaking unless you intend to obtain Apple’s signing keys or rent / borrow someone else’s credentials who has payed to develop.

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