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Apple's iOS: smaller package, bigger restrictions

by Matt Lee Contributions Published on May 19, 2011 04:35 PM
All Apple hardware runs tightly controlled proprietary operating systems. Apple has used its mobile devices to distribute iOS, a version of OS X with pared down functionality, but just as many restrictions.

5 reasons to avoid iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

  • These devices completely block free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can't be on everyone's devices.
  • Apple endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.
  • iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.
  • iTunes won't play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora on these devices.
  • iPhone is not the only option for smartphones. There are better alternatives on the horizon that respect your freedom, don't spy on you, play free media formats, and let you use free software -- like the Openmoko Neo FreeRunner. The FSF also runs a fundraising initiative for Replicant, the first mobile operating system to run without relying on proprietary system code. Replicant now runs on several Android phones, including the Galaxy S, S2, Galaxy Note, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2, Nexus S, and more.

Follow these links to learn more about Apple's poor treatment of users and developers, or skip below to take action.

Take action!

You can help by writing to Apple CEO Tim Cook ( and letting him know that you won't buy an iOS device because of its proprietary software and DRM. Please CC us on the email at Here's a great example email, sent by Ben Weissmann:

Mr. Cook,

Upon hearing about the iPhone, I was excited. A powerful, easy-to-use smartphone. However, one of the most exciting things about smartphones is the ability to run a large variety of applications on them. You have provided a way to do this via the "app store." I was extremely disappointed to find out that Apple is using digital restrictions management (DRM) to restrict the freedom of those who choose to use the app store by forcing all applications to be signed by Apple and be subjected to a ridiculous license that prohibits creators of application from using a free software license. Even worse, you have used DRM to ensure that the only way to install applications for the iPhone is through the app store.

I see no reason why you would not allow developers to use a free software license for their application. It would be as ridiculous as if you did the same thing on OS X. Developers should be free to license their software under any terms they please. The iPhone should not include DRM or prohibit users from installing software not signed by Apple. There is no reason not to allow users to install application via methods other than the app store. Even propriety phones such as Windows Mobile, Palm, Symbian, and Blackberry phones allow the installation of free software, at least partially protecting the freedom of their users.

I will not purchase or support the iPhone until changes are made so that I can use it without sacrificing my freedom. I will encourage others to opt for a phone that does respect the freedom of its users. Apple needs to understand that potential users will not accept these restrictions. My freedom is more important than any device you could ever make. Please, allow free software to be used on your phones.

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