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Free Software for iOS

Here is a list of free iOS programs which can also run on Replicant and/or can exchange data with Replicant programs—along with the proprietary applications they replace. Using these programs is only a small step toward freedom, and we urge all iOS users to switch to a mobile device that supports Replicant (or a free GNU/Linux distribution) as soon as possible.

We have long had a page which lists free replacements for popular Windows programs as a first step towards replacing Windows with GNU/Linux. Someone suggested making a similar page for iOS, but the two cases are quite different. Windows can be easily replaced with a free operating system on most PCs, but not iOS: there are ways to install Android on some iThings, but its free counterpart, Replicant, cannot be installed on any of them.

These reasons (along with other reasons listed on our page dedicated to Apple malware) could be sufficient for us to avoid recommending any iOS apps altogether; however, we feel that it is valid and useful to list those few free programs which can also run on Replicant or can interoperate with programs on Replicant.

Category Free program1 Replacement for Compatible Replicant program
Internet OnionBrowser Safari, Chrome Orfox
ownCloud Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive ownCloud
Messaging Signal iMessage LibreSignal
Multimedia VideoLan Client (VLC) Videos, Music VideoLan Client (VLC)
Office and Productivity Vim Notes VimTouch
  1. This is a selection of Replicant-compatible free software applications available for iOS platform, and is nothing like a comprehensive list. You may want to check the Runs-on/iOS category in our Free Software Directory for more software.

    If you are technically minded, you may find it interesting to build these apps from source code rather than download them from the App Store.

OnionBrowser (source code)

OnionBrowser is a free web browser which encrypts all web traffic through the Tor network.

On Replicant, similar functionality is offered by Orfox, or by running Orbot along with a web browser with proxy support.

ownCloud (source code)

ownCloud is a free file synchronization and sharing program. Both the client and the server are free, so it is possible to self-host a server on the users' own machine(s) without involving any third-parties.

ownCloud is available on many platforms, including Replicant.

Note: While we have nothing against accessing your own server from your own mobile devices, we believe the term “cloud computing” should be avoided.

Signal (source code)

Signal is a messaging app for simple private communication with friends.

Signal is also available on Replicant, although the fully free version is known as LibreSignal.

Note: Signal was previously removed from the iOS list because the Android version required Google Cloud Messaging, a proprietary component. Now there's an unofficial build of Signal called LibreSignal which does not use GCM on Android, but it can only send text messages.

VideoLAN Client (VLC)

VLC (initially VideoLAN Client) is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, etc.) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.

An older version of VLC is also available for Replicant from the F-Droid Archive repository, pending a successful build of the latest version.

Vim [at the Wayback Machine, archived October 18, 2015] (source code)

Vim is a free extensible command-based text editor.

On Replicant, a version of Vim optimized for touch screens called VimTouch is available.


 [FSF logo] “The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom. We defend the rights of all software users.”

The Free Software Foundation is the principal organizational sponsor of the GNU Operating System. Support GNU and the FSF by buying manuals and gear, joining the FSF as an associate member, or making a donation, either directly to the FSF or via Flattr.