While jailbreaking has seen tremendous growth and change over the past seven years, it would be a stretch to say that it has achieved mainstream success. Apple has sold more than 800 million iOS devices over that span, but the latest public-facing figures reveal that less than 1 in 10 of those devices have been jailbroken.
With a goal of solving that problem, and expanding jailbreaking to a larger audience, a team of developers have been working on a new jailbreak store called iMods for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I recently had an opportunity to speak with one of the creators of iMods, who explained how he plans to tackle that challenge.
Before reading any further, it is important to note that we have not seen any proof of iMods outside of the screenshots shown in this article. While we are certainly not claiming iMods is a hoax, we simply cannot fully guarantee its veracity until if and when the jailbreak store is released.
When is the planned release date for iMods? How will users install this jailbreak store?
“Great, so basically, we plan to release the official build alongside the iOS 8 jailbreak by offering a separate tool. This will ‘iMod’ the device, installing iMods. This will be done so that we can more easily distribute our market to new users who have never heard of Jailbreaking or have heard but don’t want to risk it. As we said before, we are targeting a somewhat different audience, but we would love to also have the existing jailbreakers use it as well.
The availability of the beta is a different thing, however. We will be providing it out to a select few for testing in approximately 2-3 months. We have currently been working on iMods for about 3 months. We spent a great deal of time on the UI, fine tuning it, going through different designs, and so forth and have been working on the store itself in code for about 2 months. Most of the server side of things have been completed, we just need to integrate the app, and work on the dev portal mobile app.”
Why isn’t the existing jailbreaking community your primary target?
“The reason we are not targeting the existing community is because we believe that the number of people using iOS is so much more than the number of people who are jailbreaking. We asked ourselves why this was so. At first we thought that maybe the people who are using iOS and are not jailbreaking simply do not find the stuff found in the jailbreak community useful or interesting.
We soon found out that this was not the case. We went to our university and did a sample of people who had iPhones and showed them some of the jailbreak tweaks like BiteSMS and ColorFlow. They all loved it and asked how to get them, we then said jailbreaking and took note of their response. Their responses were clear, they were not in favor of jailbreaking, why? Because there is a negative stigma of it messing up your phone and it being hard to do.
So we decided to target this larger audience who likes the features but doesn’t want to go through the hassle of learning what tweaks work with what version of iOS, what tweak has a lot of bugs, what tweak does what, and so fourth.”
How do you convince people in that demographic that jailbreaking is cool?
“Actually, we found in our survey at the University of Akron that the people saw the features very cool. Like when shown BioProtect, they were like, ‘cool, I can use this to lock my Facebook so my friends don’t make posts I don’t want when they have my phone’. They actually really liked the features, they just saw it as something that was meant for tech savvy people. That is what iMods is about, rebranding jailbreaking and targeting it to these people. People who love the features but are hesitant to jailbreak for some reason or another.”
How will iMods work?
“The users won’t have to ‘jailbreak’ their phones, they will iMod them, a word that doesn’t carry that negative stigma [Editor's Note: Jailbreaking will still be required, this is an attempt at rebranding]. Furthermore, our store is built in a way that we can control what goes in it. If a tweak has a problem and it doesn’t work properly or causes random crashes often, we can take it down so as to not scare people who are using iMods. The store is made to be very user friendly. They will see it and feel much more comfortable than if they were to use Cydia for the first time. A lot of people keep referring to us as a Cydia alternative, we keep trying to say how we are not.”
Will Cydia repositories be supported?
“The repo exclusion clause was made to prevent multiple Debian repositories, also called Cydia repositories from having the same package, something that could cause a clash. However, iMods is not based off a Debian server and its server won’t be accessible through Cydia hence, iMods does not qualify as a Cydia Repo. The repo exclusivity agreement states, ‘I will not submit to another community source’, thus iMods exactly, because it’s not a Cydia source, is not affected by the above clause.”
Thanks to one of the iMods developers, who wished to remain anonymous, for providing this interview with iPhoneHacks. Hopefully it clears some of the confusion surrounding the upcoming jailbreak store.
There has been a lot of opinions circulating online about iMods, and we invite you to share your own thoughts on the initiative in the comments section below.