We’re in the middle of a “What Is” type series, where we’re talking about the meanings of a few different terms related to iPhone jailbreaking. Previously, we’ve talked about the meaning of “jailbreak untethered” and about “What is jailbreak?” In this article, we’ll be talking about what exactly “Cydia” is, as well as it’s history, and what you can use it for. This is especially important for anyone who is interested in doing an iPhone 4S jailbreak or wanting to do an iPhone 5 jailbreak when it becomes available later this year.
Cydia is a repository for 3rd party apps for the iPhone. These are apps that have not been approved for inclusion in the standard iTunes Apple App store for whatever reason. Wikipedia has a nice write up on the technical side of Cydia that makes for a good read if you’re doing a report or are just a techy kind of person.
According to that Wikipedia article:
“The name “Cydia” is an allusion to the Codling Moth, with a scientific name of Cydia pomonella, which is the proverbial “worm in the apple.”"
An obscure reference to be sure, but a pretty cool bit of useless trivia.
Cydia was debuted by a guy named Jay Freeman in 2008, a year after the debut of the first iPhone. Prior to the release of Cydia, there was another app floating around out there called Installer.App. Cydia was put forth as an open source alternative to Installer.App, and within a year had surpassed Installer.App and become the premier repository for jailbreak apps. Jay Freeman, who goes by the handle “Saurik” online, estimates that 10% of all iPhone users have jailbroken their iPhones and accessed Cydia at least once.
Apps may be declined by the regular App store for a variety of reasons. Many developers who know that their apps have little chance of being accepted by Apple don’t even bother applying any longer, and simply submit their apps to Cydia. Reasons for not being accepted into the app store included
- Providing customizations on the phone beyond what Apple wants you to have
- Having “adult” content
- Engaging in political satire
- Failing to allow Apple to have access to your date
Those are just a few, among many reasons that Apple might decline an app. Developers whose apps fall into those categories can use Cydia, which will take almost any app, provided that it’s not engaging in anything blatantly illegal or immoral like underage nudity or anything nasty like that.
When you jailbreak your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you still have the ability to download apps from the regular app store and have them function as normal. You’re not losing any functionality. You are simply adding the ability to be able to install apps from Cydia. Cydia is not integrated into all mainstream jailbreak software. In fact, when you jailbreak iPhone 4S and the phone reboots at the end of the jailbreak procedure, the best way to tell if the jailbreak completed successfully is to look at your springboard to see if the Cydia app is there. That’s right – the jailbreak software that is currently available on the market installs Cydia for you as part of the jailbreak so that you don’t have to worry about accessing it and installing it yourself.
Does that clear things up? Did that little tutorial give you a nice little introduction to Cydia? If you have any other Cydia questions, be sure to let us know in the comments!