iPhoto on Older iDevices

12 Jul 2012

iPhoto for iOS

In the shadow of the new iPad, Apple finally released a version of iPhoto for iOS. The problem is it's only for iPhone4, iPad2 and later. I own an iPhone3GS and a first generation iPad, and when I try to install it on them, they tell me that it requires a front-facing camera.

The front-facing camera requirement is of course absolute BS. The real restriction is the RAM of the device. iPhone 4 and iPad2 has 512 MB of RAM, twice as much as the 3GS and the original iPad. I assume that the camera restriction is just something that was in the app store already, and that's why Apple used it.

Common solution

It didn't take long for someone to find out that the camera restriction could be circumvented if you buy the app in iTunes on your computer and then install it using Apples own iPhone Configuration Utility. This does work, and iPhoto runs great and surprisingly smoothly on both the original iPad and the 3GS (though with occasional crashes due to lack of memory).

The problems turn up when you try to sync with iTunes. A dialog box will pop up asking you if you want to authorize your device with iTunes (or something to the effect). Selecting No will remove iPhoto and all your work. Some people got it to work when selecting Yes, but I never did. Instead syncing just stops.

My solution (requires jailbreak)

The key to my solution is the error message

This app requires a front facing camera.

To find out whether the device has a front facing camera or not it looks into the property list of Springboard-the main interface of iOS. This is located at


and is called either N??AP.plist or K??AP.plist on an iPhone or an iPad respectively where ?? is a number that seems to vary with your model. In there it looks for a property called front-facing-camera and if it exists and is set to true, it decides that your device has a front facing camera.

There are no further checks, and iPhoto doesn't use the camera at all, so all you need to do in order to install it is add this value to your property list.

I've had no problems synchronizing to iTunes after using this method. iPhoto does, however, crash at some occasions. The crashes are few and far between, though.

A problem

I have found one problem with this method; the iphone 3GS thinks it has a front facing camera. That means there's a button in the camera app that lets you switch between the front and back camera. Tapping it will make the camera screen freeze. The remedy for this is to toggle video mode, and then you can switch back to the back camera.

How to do it

  • Jailbreak
  • Install iFile from Cydia
  • in iFile, navigate to /System/Library/CoreServices/SpringBoard.app/
  • Find your property list (N??AP.plist or K??AP.plist)
  • Open it with the Property List Viewer
  • Tap Capabilities
  • Tap the + in the bottom right corner
  • type front-facing-camera
  • Select Type:Boolean
  • Tap Create
  • Find your new property and activate it
  • tap Done
  • Restart springboard or your device

You should now be able to install iPhoto through the app store or iTunes.


While you're in there, adding the property screen-mirroring and enabling it will let you use official 20-pin-to-vga adaptors...


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© 2012 Thomas Lovén - @thomasloven - GitHub