If you’ve been alive in the past five years, you’ve definitely heard of Apple’s iOS App Store. If you aren’t into modifying your iPhone, you may not have heard of Cydia, an App Store alternative for software that Apple would never allow because it changes how the actual operating system functions to add or change features.
I’ve been using the App Store since it was created. I’ve also been using the Cydia Store (the paid section of the Cydia app) since it was launched. Over the years, I’ve come to trust the Cydia Store a lot more than the App Store. That’s not just because the software available in Cydia can do things the App Store apps can’t. It’s about more than that. Let me explain…
When buying an app in the App Store, you usually assume the developers can be contacted and will be willing to help you if you have a problem with their software. This isn’t always the case though. Some developers have virtually useless websites with no contact information anywhere, and many are not willing to help with customers who experience rare bugs. This isn’t always the case, but unfortunately, it’s becoming a little more common than it used to be.
Cydia developers, on the other hand, tend to be more willing to support users with weird bugs and issues. In fact, the very nature of Cydia development basically forces developers to deal with those types of issues regularly. Thankfully, I have never met a Cydia developer who wasn’t willing to help fix a problem I experienced. And all Cydia developers can be contacted directly via email on the tweak’s page in Cydia.
Go look at the App Store reviews on any given app and you will find that the earth is full of stupid people. You can almost never judge the quality of an app based on App Store reviews. On the other hand, Cydia has no reviews section at all. This is great for developers because it means that idiots who don’t know how to use their phones properly won’t leave low ratings and bad reviews. The reviews that you can find for jailbreak software is much more thorough and complete than those you’ll find for App Store apps.
I’m not a developer, but I do hope to learn all that stuff one day. When I do, I have no plans to make my software available on the App Store. There’s a reason for this: the customers. I’ve found that the jailbreak community is much cooler than the overall iPhone community. If you put your app in front of a bunch of idiots, you’re inviting poor ratings just based on the fact that stupid people will use the app. This is not desirable for any developer. The jailbreak community consists of mostly people who are at least somewhat tech-savvy (enough to understand what jailbreaking is, at least), and they understand that software isn’t perfect. They’re mostly willing to help out with finding bugs and solving issues, rather than just relying on the developer to fix everything by magic.
When I go into the App Store, I have a few ways to find new apps. I can search for them, if I know specifically what I’m looking for. I can find them on the Featured page, if Apple has decided to highlight the app I’m looking for. Or I can look in the Top Charts tab to see if the app I need happens to be really popular. The problem with all of these is that I either have to know exactly what I’m looking for already, or I have to look at a limited selection of specially-highlighted or popular apps that may or may not even be related to what I’m looking for. There’s pretty much no way to find a brand new app the day after it comes out unless the developers have somehow gotten Apple to put them up as the featured app this week, which is very unlikely.
With Cydia, I just turn software categories on or off depending on whether I care about the apps in that section or not, and then I can look at the Changes tab and see everything that came out today. If I check again in a few hours, I’ll see a few more things that have been released. The Changes tab makes it almost impossible to miss a release on Cydia. That means tons of customers will be looking right at your product on the day it’s released. Compare that to the App Store, which requires a marketing campaign, word of mouth, and investing in actual advertising to get your app in front of that many customers.
Really, Cydia is better for customers and developers alike because it has such a small selection of software when compared to the App Store, even if you don’t take into account the fact that Cydia software’s possibilities are endless, while App Store apps are limited by Apple’s regulations and rules about what parts of the OS apps can and cannot access.