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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.

Edit 07/10/2022:

From what I understand, as of today, the answer is no, you can't use Apple tools, namely Xcode + Swift, to develop and use freely your own application even if it's only on your own Apple device. There is no workaround that would allow you to have a permanent certificat (more like annual IRL) for your own code.

See details of my answer here:

Xcode 7 develop for iOS without developer account

There is however an exception if you're part of an eligible organisation. https://developer.apple.com/support/membership-fee-waiver/

But in the intended specific case of this post, an individual who would like to hobby around only for his personal use, the answer stays no.

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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
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 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
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 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. Commented Oct 14, 2020 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
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 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. Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 19:57

2 Answers 2

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Is it possible to develop an iOS application for my own use without having to pay 99$/year ?

No, it is not currently possible to develop and maintain an iOS application without being an Apple Developer Member. The end user of the application does not affect this.

Please let Apple know if you disagree with their approach.

See also:

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  • Thanks for answering. See my own answer on the first link you provided.
    – Hugues
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 22:19
  • Hmm, too bad, no entry for Xcode feedback in the link you offered .
    – Hugues
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 23:19
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You don’t need a paid developer account to compile and run your own code on your own devices, so even though you’re chafing at the time limits on builds, it’s totally free.

Apple now waives the fee for accredited non profit and educational groups. This includes App Store distribution of free apps.

I understand for some $100 is a fair trade off, but for others paying Apple to provide all the tools and code for apps that can run a longer time on iOS. isn’t of value.

The other 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. This does need a jailbreak on your part if they can’t provide you the certificates / signed binaries needed to install the app in a way that works.

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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  • What cloud based solutions are you talking about? Can you give an example?
    – Loris Foe
    Commented Aug 7, 2021 at 11:46
  • Hi @LorisFoe That would make an excellent follow on question. If you ask, link or comment here what you seek specifically and why what you found doesn’t work and I’m sure people can help.
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 7, 2021 at 20:16
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    Downvoted, because you're not answering the question, provide unrelated comments and opinions. Obviously having a permanent profile on my own developed application on my own hardware has nothing to do with jailbreaking.
    – Hugues
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 18:07
  • Thanks for voting and the comment @Hugues - I’ll edit this since you can develop and side load your own code for free, but perhaps you knew that already. To be fair, your question does ramble a bit and I have edited this to clearly answer what your title asks. There are two solid free development options even if you don’t agree with what Apple has in place. I hope you qualify for a fee waiver so you can make and share something great with others.
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 20:33
  • Thanks for your answer. You may be technically right in you definition of jailbreaking, but for 99% of users, jailbreaking means opening a gate to tamper with Apple code or distributing to other people unauthorized software, which is not what I want to do. I have edited my answer to include your comment. I could go on with philosophical considerations on Apple policy, but won't since I don't know what is this platform policy.
    – Hugues
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 23:15

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