Kivy Ios

Toolchain for compiling Python / Kivy / other libraries for iOS
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Kivy for iOS

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This toolchain is designed to compile the necessary libraries for iOS to run your application and manage the creation of the Xcode project.

We do not provide any binary distributions of this toolchain. You do need to compile it at least once before creating your Xcode project.

The toolchain supports:

  • iPhone Simulator (x86_64)
  • iPhone / iOS (arm64)

These recipes are not ported to the new toolchain yet:

  • lxml

Installation & requirements

Before we start, we strongly advise using a Python virtual environment to install Python packages.

  python3 -m venv venv
  . venv/bin/activate

Install Kivy for iOS from PyPI with pip like any Python package.

  pip3 install kivy-ios

Additionally, you would need a few system dependencies and configuration.

  • Xcode 13 or above, with an iOS SDK and command line tools installed:

    xcode-select --install
  • Using brew, you can install the following dependencies:

    brew install autoconf automake libtool pkg-config
    brew link libtool

Using the toolchain

Any Python extensions or C/C++ library must be compiled: you need to have what we call a recipe to compile it. For example, Python, libffi, SDL2, SDL_image, freetype... all the dependencies, compilation, and packaging instructions are contained in a recipe.

You can list the available recipes and their versions with:

$ toolchain recipes
audiostream  master
click        7.1.2
cymunk       master
ffmpeg       n4.3.1
ffpyplayer   v3.2
flask        1.1.2
freetype     2.5.5
hostlibffi   3.2.1
hostopenssl  1.1.1g
hostpython3  3.7.1
ios          master
itsdangerous 1.1.0
jinja2       2.11.2
kivy         1.10.1
libffi       3.2.1
libjpeg      v9a
libpng       1.6.26
markupsafe   1.1.1
moodstocks   4.1.5
numpy        1.16.4
openssl      1.1.1g
photolibrary master
pillow       6.1.0
plyer        master
pycrypto     2.6.1
pykka        1.2.1
pyobjus      master
python3      3.7.1
pyyaml       3.11
sdl2         2.0.8
sdl2_image   2.0.0
sdl2_mixer   2.0.0
sdl2_ttf     2.0.12
werkzeug     1.0.1

Then, start the compilation with:

$ toolchain build python3 kivy

You can build recipes at the same time by adding them as parameters:

$ toolchain build python3 openssl kivy

Recipe builds can be removed via the clean command e.g.:

$ toolchain clean openssl

You can install package that don't require compilation with pip::

$ toolchain pip install plyer

The Kivy recipe depends on several others, like the sdl* and python recipes. These may, in turn, depend on others e.g. sdl2_ttf depends on freetype, etc. You can think of it as follows: the kivy recipe will compile everything necessary for a minimal working version of Kivy.

Don't grab a coffee, just do dinner. Compiling all the libraries for the first time, 2x over (remember, 2 archs, x86_64, arm64) will take time.

For a complete list of available commands, type:

$ toolchain

Create the Xcode project

The can create the initial Xcode project for you::

$ toolchain create <title> <app_directory>
$ toolchain create Touchtracer ~/code/kivy/examples/demo/touchtracer

Your app directory must contain a A directory named <title>-ios will be created, with an Xcode project in it. You can open the Xcode project using::

$ open touchtracer-ios/touchtracer.xcodeproj

Then click on Play, and enjoy.

Did you know?

Every time you press Play, your application directory will be synced to the <title>-ios/YourApp directory. Don't make changes in the -ios directory directly.

Configuring your App

You can configure and customize your app in various ways:

  • Set the icon and launch images in XCode. Note that XCode requires that you specify these assets per device or/and iOS version.

  • When you first build your XCode project, a 'main.m' file is created in your XCode project folder. This file configures your environment variables and controls your application startup. You can edit this file to customize your launch environment.

  • Kivy uses SDL, and as soon as the application starts the SDL main, the launch image will disappear. To prevent that, you need to have 2 files named Default.png and Default-Landscape.png and put them in the Resources folder in Xcode (not in your application folder)

Did you know?

If you wish to restrict your app's orientation, you should do this via the 'export_orientation' function in 'main.m'. The XCode orientation settings should be set to support all.

Using recipes

Recipes are used to install and compile any libraries you may need to use. These recipes follow the same format as those used by the Python-for-Android sister project. Please refer to the recipe documentation there for more detail.

Reducing the application size

If you would like to reduce the size of your distributed app, there are a few things you can do to achieve this:

  • Minimize the build/pythonX/lib/ this contains all the python modules. You can edit the zip file and remove all the files you'll not use (reduce encodings, remove xml, email...)

  • Go to the settings panel > build, search for "strip" options, and triple-check that they are all set to NO. Stripping does not work with Python dynamic modules and will remove needed symbols.

  • By default, the iOS package compiles binaries for all processor architectures, namely x86_64 and arm64 as per the guidelines from Apple. You can reduce the size of your ipa significantly by removing the x86_64 architecture as they are used only for the emulator.

    The procedure is to first compile/build all the host recipes as is:

    toolchain build hostpython3

    Then build all the rest of the recipes using --arch=arm64 arguments as follows:

    toolchain build python3 kivy --arch=arm64

    Note that these packages will not run in the iOS emulators, so use them only for deployment.


toolchain <command> [<args>]

Available commands:
    build         Build a recipe (compile a library for the required target
    clean         Clean the build of the specified recipe
    distclean     Clean the build and the result
    recipes       List all the available recipes
    status        List all the recipes and their build status

    create        Create a new xcode project
    update        Update an existing xcode project (frameworks, libraries..)
    launchimage   Create Launch images for your xcode project
    icon          Create Icons for your xcode project
    pip           Install a pip dependency into the distribution
    pip3          Install a pip dependency into the python 3 distribution


Alternatively, it's also possible to clone the repository and use all the described commands in the above sections. Clone and install it to your local virtual environment:

git clone
cd kivy-ios/
python3 -m venv venv
. venv/bin/activate
pip install -e .

Then use the script:

python --help


Fatal error: "stdio.h" file not found

You need to install the Command line tools: xcode-select --install

Error: SDK "iphonesimulator" cannot be located

Xcode path is not set up correctly. Run the following command to fix this: sudo xcode-select --switch <YOUR_XCODEAPP_PATH> (Change <YOUR_XCODEAPP_PATH> to the path that reflects your XCode installation, usually is /Applications/

Bitcode is partially supported now (Xcode setting ENABLE_BITCODE can be set to Yes).

  • Supported recipes: python3, kivy, sdl2, sdl2_image, sdl2_mixer, and libffi

You don't have permissions to run

It is due to invalid archs, search for them and check it. Maybe you targetted a simulator but have only arm64. Maybe you want to target your iPad but it is only x86_64.

Why does the python multiprocess/subprocess module not work?

The iOS application model does not currently support multi-processing in a cross-platform compatible way. The application design focuses on minimizing processor usage (to minimize power consumption) and promotes an alternative concurrency model.

If you need to make use of multiple processes, you should consider using PyObjus to leverage native iOS functionals for this.


If you need help, please feel free to seek assistance through our support channels:

Join the Kivy Users Google Group. Participate in discussions on Discord.


We love pull requests and discussing novel ideas. Check out our contribution guide and feel free to improve Kivy for iOS.

The following mailing list and IRC channel are used exclusively for discussions about developing the Kivy framework and its sister projects:

Discord channel:


Kivy for iOS is released under the terms of the MIT License. Please refer to the LICENSE file.


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