If you’re a fan of streaming media, you’re familiar with the usual suspects: Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, YouTube, and many more that can stream 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, multiplatform 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 special about it? 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, though, so it’s unauthorized for installation on any iOS device, at least not via Apple. It’s not illegal to own Kodi or to use it, but what’s problematic is how to get it in the first place.
If you can get it onto your device, you can use it to consolidate various media content. It can also stream media you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to, like copyrighted programming that you’d otherwise need a subscription to watch, region-restricted programming that does not play in your country, or live TV broadcasts that are restricted. Kodi also provides a flexible user interface and library system for storing and displaying material like posters, cast information, plot descriptions, 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 onto 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 2 using the following steps, with an assist from Apple’s Xcode and the App Signer app.
Using Xcode to install Kodi on your iOS device
Plug your iPad or iPhone into your Mac, and launch Xcode.
Select File > New > Project, and select the iOS section up top. Click on Single View Application. Click Next.
Here’s where the Kodi DEB file comes in. With a 64-bit Mac, use the DEB file that is labeled 64. It should be labeled: org.xbmc.kodi-ios_18.8-0_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 prefilled. Click Next.
Choose a Git repository location, like your desktop, and click Create.
Under the Signing & Capabilities tab, click All. An alert calls for you to name a team. Add yourself as a personal team.
Type in your Apple ID and sign in.
Launch App Signer, and where it says Input File, find the Kodi DEB file by clicking the Browse button. Click Open.
The signing certificate should be prefilled 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 and Simulators. Click on your iOS device in the left panel, and click the Plus Sign in the 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. You’ll see the Kodi app icon, just like all your other app icons.
You’re not done yet. You will see an Untrusted Developer alert when you tap the icon, so 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.
You’re done and can start using Kodi.
After installing 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.
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. It’s also 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. 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.