If you've jailbroken your iPhone, then you probably know Cydia, a package installer that enables iPhone users to download apps from different sources. Well, Cydia creator Jay Freeman (saurik) has now turned the rebel software manager into an unofficial app store.
Pic via ReadWriteWeb
The new Cydia Store puts applications in one place, just like Apple's App Store. The terms are similar (a 70/30 split, with the developer getting the major stake), and the browsing process is fairly simple and direct. The main difference is that the Cydia Store provides a home for apps that the official store has banned or delayed indefinitely. Now, possibly following suit, two more unofficial stores are coming: one called Rock Your Phone and another for adult-oriented iPhone apps.
Is Apple PO?ed? Probably. When users wanted functionality that the App Store couldn't or wouldn't provide (like modem tethering or iTunes-like purchasing and downloading capability), Cydia just pointed users in the right direction. Now, this and other unofficial stores are going to make money by retailing these Apple rejects ? and chances are good that Apple will have something to say about it. Since the company already basically considers jailbreaking illegal (arguing copyright infringement),** I doubt this latest development will go unnoticed.
Apple has been declining candidates for increasingly rigid or just downright strange reasons (like its recent rejection of a Tweetie update due to foul language ? not the app's, but the Twitter community's. That's like banning SMS because friends curse in their texts. The bizarre turn made everyone pause, including Apple because it just reversed the decision and allowed it into the store). With frustration high and rules cryptic, there's little wonder then that apps are finding a home elsewhere.
Since developers don't have to worry about a restrictive approval process, they?re free to pursue any kooky or awesome ideas they want. There are already some really interesting apps, like video recorders, camera zooms, turn-by-turn GPS directions, custom skins, and way more. Faced with a profit model for their hard work, what crazy experiments will likely come next will be sick (in a good ? no GREAT ? way).
As for the user experience of the actual Cydia Store ? well, I don't have a jailbroken phone (yet), so I can't check it out for myself. But according to Smoking Apples, it's not exactly sleek and professional-looking. (Actually, the line is 'the worst designed screen I have ever seen?), but it functions pretty well nonetheless.
ReadWriteWeb says there are hardly any paid apps yet, but more are coming as early as this week. (The first one is Freeman's own Cyntact, a mod for Contacts that displays profile pictures.) To make purchases, users send money through Amazon Payments PayPal transactions is in the works). RWW also reported about Facebook Connect and Google login integration with the store.
**Does Jailbreaking + iPhone = Breaking the law?
According to Newsoxy.com, modding an iPhone is part of reverse engineering, say the courts, and that's fair use. BUT, if jailbreaking hurts sales for Apple, then it could be a different ballgame that actually lends some credence to the tech company's copyright infringement argument.