Apps without borders: how to access US-only audio and video apps on your iPhone

At last count the iOS App Store had over 400000 apps. But not all of those are available globally. In fact many of the cooler apps – particularly in the audio and video streaming category – are blocked from users outside of the US.

But it’s not too hard to circumvent these restrictions if you limit your selection to free apps only. First you’ll need a US iTunes account. Open iTunes and scroll to the bottom of the window. In the bottom right-hand corner you’ll see an Australian flag icon. Click on that and scroll down to the bottom of the screen again to select the United States icon. This will launch the US iTunes Store.

The next step is finding a free app to download. Do a search for Pandora Radio a popular US-only music-streaming app and click on the ‘Free App’ button to download it. This will bring up the sign-in page. Click the ‘Create New Account’ option. Click through the options to the ‘Create iTunes Store Account’ page. If you’ve already got a local iTunes account you’ll need to use a different email address for the account.

Netflix may only be meant for US and Canadian users but it worked fine for us.

In the ‘Provide a Payment Method’ screen select the ‘None’ radio button and enter a US address and phone number. If you’re stuck for inspiration look up any American company’s web site and use their address and phone number. Once complete iTunes will send an email to your nominated email address to verify the account. Click on the verification link in that email and you’re good to go!

You can now use this account to download any of the US-only free apps. For audio and video streaming we’d recommend Pandora (an audio streaming app that lets you create custom ‘channels’ of music based on a particular artist) VEVO (an app that lets you stream over 20000 music videos from most popular artists) and Netflix (an app that lets you stream hundreds of current TV shows and movies).

Netflix is a subscription-only service that starts at US$4.99 per month (depending on the plan you choose) and while it’s technically only meant for US and Canadian users we found that entering an Australian credit card with a US address allowed us to sign up for the service.

But downloading the apps is only half the battle. The next step is getting around the IP blocking that these apps use to ensure only those within the US are accessing the service. For this you’ll need to set up a VPN with servers in the US. We recommend AceVPN which is a subscription VPN service that starts at US$5 a month. There are free services available as well but you won’t find as smooth a streaming experience as you would in a paid service.

Paid VPN sites like AceVPN tend to offer a smoother streaming experience than free alternatives.

Once you’ve signed up for the VPN service setting it up on your iPhone or iPad is easy. Go to Settings > General > Network > VPN and select ‘Add VPN configuration’. Move to the PPTP tab and enter ‘AceVPN’ as the description. Under server enter and enter your username in the ‘Account field’. Finally enter your password in the password field and hit the Save button. Back at the VPN screen turn the VPN ‘On’ and you’ll see it connect under the Status field.

Once it’s connected you’ll see a ‘VPN’ icon in iPhone/iPad’s top task bar. You’ll now be able to stream audio and video from any of the free apps you downloaded earlier! If the VPN disconnects for whatever reason that icon will disappear and you’ll have to go back into the Settings to turn it on again.