Anki is a popular spaced repetition flashcard program that helps users memorize information more efficiently. It is available on desktop platforms like Windows, Mac, and Linux as free open source software. However, getting Anki on iOS devices like iPhones and iPads requires paying a one-time $25 fee for the official AnkiMobile app.

Why Anki is Not Free on iOS

The reason behind the $25 pricing for AnkiMobile is that Apple charges developers a recurring yearly fee to publish apps on the iOS App Store. As an open source project, the Anki developer needs to cover these fees somehow, which is why AnkiMobile is priced as a desktop software purchase rather than a typical mobile app. Sales of AnkiMobile also help fund continued development of both the mobile and desktop versions of Anki.

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How to InstallAnkiMobile

To install AnkiMobile on your iOS device, follow these steps:

  1. Open the App Store on your iOS device.
  2. Search for “AnkiMobile Flashcards”.
  3. Tap on the app in the search results.
  4. Tap on the price to purchase the app. The iOS app is a one-time charge, not a subscription model.
  5. After the purchase is complete, tap on the “Install” button to download and install the app on your device.

Once installed, you can use AnkiMobile on multiple devices you own without having to pay again, as long as the devices are using the same Apple ID as you made the original purchase with, or are enrolled in family sharing.

AnkiMobile Features

AnkiMobile provides the core Anki experience of spaced repetition flashcards optimized for mobile devices:

  • Powerful studying algorithms: Uses the same proven scheduling algorithm as the Anki desktop app to optimize your memorization.
  • Sync with AnkiWeb: Seamlessly keep Anki decks and progress in sync across mobile and desktop via AnkiWeb.
  • Statistics and graphs: Detailed statistics and graphs help you analyze your learning progress.
  • Customizable study experience: Tap and swipe gestures, multiple display options, and configuration presets let you customize your study flow.
  • Media support: Supports audio, images, LaTeX math, and basic HTML formatting on cards.

AnkiMobile Limitations

As a companion mobile app, AnkiMobile does have some limitations compared to the desktop program:

  • No add-ons: Anki’s library of powerful third-party add-ons are not supported on mobile.
  • Simplified editing: More complex edits like changing note types need to be done on desktop.
  • Manual backups: Backups require manually exporting via iTunes or cloud services. Automatic cloud sync depends on AnkiWeb.

So while AnkiMobile provides an excellent mobile Anki experience, you’ll still need the free desktop program to unlock Anki’s full capabilities.

Alternatives to Paying for AnkiMobile

If you don’t want to pay $25 for AnkiMobile, there are some free alternatives:

  • Use the browser-based AnkiWeb: Provides basic functionality for reviewing and adding flashcards. Syncing requires the desktop Anki program.
  • Try iPhone flashcard apps like AnkiAppBrainscape, or Flashcards Deluxe. These mimic some Anki features but may not sync with it.
  • Access Anki decks on an Android phone or tablet for free via AnkiDroid, an Anki clone app. However, syncing with iOS requires paying for AnkiMobile.
  • Use AnkiMobile for free by enrolling in the Apple Developer Program, which makes apps free to install. However, the app needs to be reloaded every 7 days.

While AnkiMobile does require a one-time purchase to install on iOS, it provides the full genuine Anki experience optimized for iPhone and iPad. The $25 is well worth it if you are a serious Anki user needing to sync decks across desktop and mobile. More casual users can try some of the free alternative options at the cost of features and compatibility.