If you’re a fan of streaming entertainment, you’ve no doubt heard of the usual suspects: Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, YouTube, and many more that can shoot a program or movie your way in exchange for a subscription, pay per view, or even for free. But then there’s Kodi, a free, open-source multi-platform app formerly known as Xbox Media Player or Xbox Media Center (XBMC), now run by the XBMC Foundation. It lets you play and view videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media derived from local or network storage and online. So what’s the big deal?
Just this: Kodi has evolved as a universal streaming app that works on almost any device and can play almost any media file format. It is not available on the Apple App Store and thus unauthorized for installation on any iOS device, at least not via Apple. It’s not illegal to own Kodi or to use it — it’s how it gets used that’s sometimes an issue. If you can get it on your device, you can use it to consolidate various media content. But it can also stream media you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to, for example, copyrighted programming that you’d otherwise need a subscription to watch, or region-restricted programming that does not play in your country, or live TV broadcasts which are, for various reasons, illegal for you to view. Kodi also provides a flexible user interface and library system for storing and displaying material like posters, cast information, plot, and more. It will not stream from mainstream sources like Netflix, but it does come with its own catalog of approved add-ons.
While the popular notion is that you must jailbreak your iPhone in order to install Kodi, that is not the case, though it’s likely an easier installation if you do. Digital Trends does not recommend jailbreaking your iOS device for any reason or viewing material illegally. Kodi depends on users to do the right thing, knowing that if you don’t there may be consequences it is not responsible for.
There are several methods and techniques you can follow to get Kodi on your iPhone or iPad that do not jailbreak the device. The process is not easy or intuitive and not all published methods work. I was successful in loading Kodi onto my iPad Air II using the steps below with the help of Apple’s X-Code app and the App Signer app.
Using Xcode to install Kodi on your iOS device
- Download the Kodi deb file (the latest version is 18.4), iOS App Signer, and Xcode from the Mac App Store. You must first convert the deb file into an ipa file so it will play on your iOS device.
- Plug your iPad or iPhone into your Mac and launch Xcode.
- Select Create a new Xcode project and select Application in the iOS section up top. Click on Single View Application. Click Next.
- Here’s where the Kodi deb file comes in. If you use a 64-bit Mac, use the deb file that is labeled 64. The other file will not work. It should be labeled something like: org.xbmc.kodi-ios_18.4-0_iphoneos-arm64.deb.
- Now name the new application. Fill in Product Name (Kodi) and Organization Identifier (for example, your name: com.YourName). The other fields are pre-filled. Set the app as Universal. Click Next.
- Choose a Git repository location, like your desktop, and click Create.
- On the Xcode screen, you’ll see an alert: No code signing identities found. Click Fix Issue, and then Add on the next panel.
- Type in your Apple ID and sign in.
- Go back to the main screen and you’ll see an alert that says: To fix this issue, select a Development Team to use for provisioning. There’s a single Development Team to choose from, so click Choose. Xcode will quickly resolve the issues.
- Launch App Signer and where it says Input File, find the Kodi deb file by clicking the Browse button and click Open.
- The signing certificate should be pre-filled with your Apple ID; for Provisioning Profile, select the profile with the YourName identifier.
- A New Application ID will be filled in, but add Kodi as the App Display Name and click Start.
- Choose a file name and location in the Save As field and click Save. App Signer will process the data, save the file, and signal when it is Done.
- Return to Xcode and choose Window > Devices. Click on your iOS device in the left panel and click the plus sign at the bottom right panel.
- Select the .ipa file on your desktop and click Open. Wait for less than a minute until it installs the Kodi app.
- Unplug your iOS device from your Mac and unlock it, and you’ll see the Kodi app icon.
- But you’re not home free yet. You will see an Untrusted Developer alert when you tap the icon, so just tap Cancel.
- Go to Settings > General and tap Device Management. Under Developer App, tap on the account you used, and then on the next screen, tap Trust and choose the account. Tap Trust again.
- Now, you’re really done and you can start using Kodi.
If you install Kodi
So does that mean you now get to immediately watch any program you want? Not so fast. Material for Kodi is available only via third-party add-ons to the installed software, and while setting up and adding content to Kodi is beyond the scope of this article, poking around the interface for a while will reveal at least some hints on how to get started. Here are a few pointers on the setup that can help you decide whether or not Kodi is your bag.
The good part about Kodi is that it helps you access content from a variety of sources all over the internet without restrictions and the Kodi community can add content to it. It’s up to all users to abide by well-known media copyright and piracy rules to use online resources in an ethical manner. And it’s up to users to determine whether add-on content is safe or vulnerable to hackers and other online mischief, which is not always easy. The add-ons to the program from within the Kodi interface come from legal sources and in that way, Kodi makes it easier to consolidate new and interesting content in one place so it’s easy to find. That said, many caution Kodi users to also set up a VPN just to be on the safe side and to steer clear of any potential ISP conflicts that may arise from using the program.