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The alternative App Store for iPhones

The alternative App Store for iPhones – Since the rise of the modern smartphone 10 years ago, one thing has remained constant: Apples approach to iPhone apps. The App Store launched in 2008 and, with it, Apple laid out how it was going to let third-party apps onto its platform. And not much has really changed. You still have to develop your app according to Apples rules, submit it to the company for review, and then pray Apple lets it onto the App Store.

Anything that crosses the line, especially around copyright or privacy, isnt allowed. And those rules are extensive. The guidelines document is more that 12, 500 words long.

But, if youve been following the world of mobile apps since the early days of the iPhone, youre probably well aware that there are holes in Apples walled garden. On Android, Google typically lets you do a lot of stuff you cant do on the iPhone. But that doesnt mean people have stopped trying to find ways around Apples restrictions.

In fact, theyve only gotten smarter about it. bass heavy electronic music This is AltStore. Its one of the latest attempts by independent developers to bypass the App Store, and its made by a recent college graduate, Riley Testut. – AltStore basically lets you install apps outside the App Store by tricking the phone into thinking you developed the app yourself. Like, you programmed it and you installed it and youre testing it out on your device.

So a few years ago, Apple had the ability for Xcode, Apples developer tool, to allow anyone with an Apple ID to install their own apps on their phones so that Apple could encourage people to learn to program iPhone apps and test them out for schools and curriculums, stuff like that. But so basically, Im using that same process, but just without Xcode. – Riley was inspired to make AltStore through a trick he discovered in the jailbreaking community. You probably remember jailbreaking. It used to be pretty much the only way to get unauthorized apps onto your iPhone or features Apple hadnt developed yet.

Well, after jailbreaking started to fade out, some really savvy programmers started coming up with ways to get apps onto the iPhone without needing to jailbreak your phone. One of those methods was with a software called Cydia Impactor. Like AltStore, the Impactor exploits a loophole in how iTunes communicates and syncs files with the iPhone. But Cydia Impactor only lets you take app files and put them on your phone from your computer. AltStore is a fully functioning platform that can, in theory, support a whole ecosystem of apps that live outside of the App Store.

It also lets you download apps and updates over Wi-Fi without needing to plug your phone into your computer all the time. Rileys even made one of those apps himself. Its a super polished version of his old Nintendo emulator that hes spent years fine-tuning.

It used to be called GBA4iOS, but now hes calling this more powerful version Delta. It can let an iPhone play Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance, and even N64 games. Its got a sleek, built-in controller scheme and some really nice save state features.

But Riley knew he could never get Delta onto the App Store. Apple wouldnt allow it because there are strict rules around apps that might be used for copyright infringement. So, he started thinking up more clever ways to get around the restrictions on iOS, and thats what pushed him to come up with AltStore instead of just releasing his app on Android and calling it a day. – AltStore and everything just came from me wanting to get Delta out.

It just made sense for me, if Im building this whole process for Delta, just to build it out for anyone to use. So Im kind of doing it cause I want to also improve the quality of apps that you wont find on the App Store but could still exist on the platform. – Okay, quick side note: were not encouraging you go download article game files, which are known on the internet as ROMs. Sites hosting those ROMs have been shut down by game companies and its generally not a good idea to share them. Now, Apple has a history of working hard to shut these things down.

Its spent years patching iOS to block jailbreaking software. But before things like AltStore existed, there was one really popular way to get around IOS restrictions. Its been around for years and it involves using Apples own tools against it. That method is the Enterprise program.

It started up a few years after the iPhone really took off, when all sorts of companies were developing mobile apps. Apple lets you pay $300 a year for a special license that it controls that then lets you distribute apps to anyone over the internet, no App Store review required. It was intended for really big companies. So, like, say you work for Amazon or Microsoft.

Those employees can then test apps early to weed out bugs. It turns out that Apple wasnt really paying too close attention to who was buying access to those Enterprise certificates. Some companies would sell them to you on the cheap and Riley even distributed his old Nintendo emulator, GBA4iOS, using an Enterprise certificate he bought on the internet. That is, before Apple got wind of that and shut him down pretty quickly.

You may also remember that Facebook and Google were even abusing this program up until a few months ago when they got in trouble with Apple for installing these VPN apps onto teenagers iPhones to snoop on their data in exchange for $20 a month. There are tons of, lets say, creative uses of the Enterprise program. Just look at something like TutuApp. Its a popular alternative app store out of China that sells access to all sorts of pirated software.

TutuApp occasionally goes down, probably because Apple is revoking its certificates, but it always seems to come right back. Riley theorizes that the makers of TutuApp are buying new certificates from other companies. He also raises a really good point, which is that Apple has let this go on for years without really doing much about it. – But so Ive always been expecting that route to kind of go away, so thats why Ive positioned this whole installation method completely separate from that. – After the Facebook and Google controversy, Apple has, in fact, gotten stricter about these Enterprise certificates.

It announced some new restrictions to the program back in WWDC, and Riley tells me that the company is paying closer attention to who signs up for the program and what they do with it. So the Enterprise program is probably not the best way to try and bypass the App Store anymore and thats how weve arrived at something like AltStore. Riley thinks AltStore can survive for at least a little bit. Apple may come up with a way to disable his ability to distribute apps but it would end up affecting a lot of legitimate users on the platform. – They could completely shut down the whole service, but that would affect everyone doing this, including schools, anyone just using their free Apple ID on the side of their work or anything.

So that would be a pretty heavy-handed solution there. Besides that, they could prevent syncing of our Wi-Fi but even then, the worst case is you could still plug in the phone. Essentially, as long as iTunes can sync apps, AltStore can work. – So if it does survive, Riley hopes AltStore can become a destination for other app makers. And theres a lot of room for really interesting apps that dont abide by the iOS guidelines. – Or I know someone made a file managing app. So, it looked gorgeous and did everything, but Apple would never allow it because you cant replicate a desktop experience. – As for the future of the App Store, its pretty unlikely Apple is ever going to budge when it comes to apps on the iPhone.

But there is a small sliver of hope for the iPad. Back at WWDC, Apple announced iPadOS. Its a whole new operating system dedicated to its tablet. And while the iPads capabilities as a computer have been pretty held back until now, were starting to see Apple open it up way more.

Theres now Catalyst, so you can develop apps for both Mac and iPad at the same time, iPads will be getting the ability to read USB drives, and Apple is completely redesigning how the iPad home screen, window layout, and gesture support works so its more like a real laptop. – Whats a computer? – Remember that Whats a computer? ad campaign? Well, Apple is actually now following through. At some point, Apple just might give the iPad something that could truly make it into a computer: the ability to run apps from the internet. – So, I think its inevitable that at some point the iPad will gain some way of installing apps outside of the App Store. I dont know if that will ever happen for the iPhone because, essentially, the iPad is your computer and the phone is the convenience. – Unfortunately, I think I have to agree with Riley here.

I dont see that ever happening for the iPhone. Thankfully, we have options like AltStore. That is, if Apple doesnt shut it down immediately. I only get to it pick my starter, which I feel like is going to anger the internet. Bulbasaur?

No way. Charmander? Absolutely not. Im definitely gonna get Squirtle.

Hell yeah. The alternative App Store for iPhones – Since the rise of the modern smartphone 10 years ago, one thing has remained constant: Apples approach to iPhone apps. The App Store launched in 2008 and, with it, Apple laid out how it was going to let third-party apps onto its platform. And not much has really changed.

You still have to develop your app according to Apples rules, submit it to the company for review, and then pray Apple lets it onto the App Store. Anything that crosses the line, especially around copyright or privacy, isnt allowed. And those rules are extensive. The guidelines document is more that 12, 500 words long.

But, if youve been following the world of mobile apps since the early days of the iPhone, youre probably well aware that there are holes in Apples walled garden. On Android, Google typically lets you do a lot of stuff you cant do on the iPhone. But that doesnt mean people have stopped trying to find ways around Apples restrictions. In fact, theyve only gotten smarter about it. bass heavy electronic music This is AltStore.

Its one of the latest attempts by independent developers to bypass the App Store, and its made by a recent college graduate, Riley Testut. – AltStore basically lets you install apps outside the App Store by tricking the phone into thinking you developed the app yourself. Like, you programmed it and you installed it and youre testing it out on your device. So a few years ago, Apple had the ability for Xcode, Apples developer tool, to allow anyone with an Apple ID to install their own apps on their phones so that Apple could encourage people to learn to program iPhone apps and test them out for schools and curriculums, stuff like that. But so basically, Im using that same process, but just without Xcode. – Riley was inspired to make AltStore through a trick he discovered in the jailbreaking community.

You probably remember jailbreaking. It used to be pretty much the only way to get unauthorized apps onto your iPhone or features Apple hadnt developed yet. Well, after jailbreaking started to fade out, some really savvy programmers started coming up with ways to get apps onto the iPhone without needing to jailbreak your phone. One of those methods was with a software called Cydia Impactor.

Like AltStore, the Impactor exploits a loophole in how iTunes communicates and syncs files with the iPhone. But Cydia Impactor only lets you take app files and put them on your phone from your computer. AltStore is a fully functioning platform that can, in theory, support a whole ecosystem of apps that live outside of the App Store.

It also lets you download apps and updates over Wi-Fi without needing to plug your phone into your computer all the time. Rileys even made one of those apps himself. Its a super polished version of his old Nintendo emulator that hes spent years fine-tuning. It used to be called GBA4iOS, but now hes calling this more powerful version Delta.

It can let an iPhone play Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance, and even N64 games. Its got a sleek, built-in controller scheme and some really nice save state features. But Riley knew he could never get Delta onto the App Store.

Apple wouldnt allow it because there are strict rules around apps that might be used for copyright infringement. So, he started thinking up more clever ways to get around the restrictions on iOS, and thats what pushed him to come up with AltStore instead of just releasing his app on Android and calling it a day. – AltStore and everything just came from me wanting to get Delta out. It just made sense for me, if Im building this whole process for Delta, just to build it out for anyone to use. So Im kind of doing it cause I want to also improve the quality of apps that you wont find on the App Store but could still exist on the platform. – Okay, quick side note: were not encouraging you go download article game files, which are known on the internet as ROMs.

Sites hosting those ROMs have been shut down by game companies and its generally not a good idea to share them. Now, Apple has a history of working hard to shut these things down. Its spent years patching iOS to block jailbreaking software.

But before things like AltStore existed, there was one really popular way to get around IOS restrictions. Its been around for years and it involves using Apples own tools against it. That method is the Enterprise program.

It started up a few years after the iPhone really took off, when all sorts of companies were developing mobile apps. Apple lets you pay $300 a year for a special license that it controls that then lets you distribute apps to anyone over the internet, no App Store review required. It was intended for really big companies.

So, like, say you work for Amazon or Microsoft. Those employees can then test apps early to weed out bugs. It turns out that Apple wasnt really paying too close attention to who was buying access to those Enterprise certificates. Some companies would sell them to you on the cheap and Riley even distributed his old Nintendo emulator, GBA4iOS, using an Enterprise certificate he bought on the internet. That is, before Apple got wind of that and shut him down pretty quickly.

You may also remember that Facebook and Google were even abusing this program up until a few months ago when they got in trouble with Apple for installing these VPN apps onto teenagers iPhones to snoop on their data in exchange for $20 a month. There are tons of, lets say, creative uses of the Enterprise program. Just look at something like TutuApp. Its a popular alternative app store out of China that sells access to all sorts of pirated software.

TutuApp occasionally goes down, probably because Apple is revoking its certificates, but it always seems to come right back. Riley theorizes that the makers of TutuApp are buying new certificates from other companies. He also raises a really good point, which is that Apple has let this go on for years without really doing much about it. – But so Ive always been expecting that route to kind of go away, so thats why Ive positioned this whole installation method completely separate from that. – After the Facebook and Google controversy, Apple has, in fact, gotten stricter about these Enterprise certificates. It announced some new restrictions to the program back in WWDC, and Riley tells me that the company is paying closer attention to who signs up for the program and what they do with it.

So the Enterprise program is probably not the best way to try and bypass the App Store anymore and thats how weve arrived at something like AltStore. Riley thinks AltStore can survive for at least a little bit. Apple may come up with a way to disable his ability to distribute apps but it would end up affecting a lot of legitimate users on the platform. – They could completely shut down the whole service, but that would affect everyone doing this, including schools, anyone just using their free Apple ID on the side of their work or anything. So that would be a pretty heavy-handed solution there. Besides that, they could prevent syncing of our Wi-Fi but even then, the worst case is you could still plug in the phone.

Essentially, as long as iTunes can sync apps, AltStore can work. – So if it does survive, Riley hopes AltStore can become a destination for other app makers. And theres a lot of room for really interesting apps that dont abide by the iOS guidelines. – Or I know someone made a file managing app. So, it looked gorgeous and did everything, but Apple would never allow it because you cant replicate a desktop experience. – As for the future of the App Store, its pretty unlikely Apple is ever going to budge when it comes to apps on the iPhone. But there is a small sliver of hope for the iPad.

Back at WWDC, Apple announced iPadOS. Its a whole new operating system dedicated to its tablet. And while the iPads capabilities as a computer have been pretty held back until now, were starting to see Apple open it up way more. Theres now Catalyst, so you can develop apps for both Mac and iPad at the same time, iPads will be getting the ability to read USB drives, and Apple is completely redesigning how the iPad home screen, window layout, and gesture support works so its more like a real laptop. – Whats a computer? – Remember that Whats a computer? ad campaign? Well, Apple is actually now following through.

At some point, Apple just might give the iPad something that could truly make it into a computer: the ability to run apps from the internet. – So, I think its inevitable that at some point the iPad will gain some way of installing apps outside of the App Store. I dont know if that will ever happen for the iPhone because, essentially, the iPad is your computer and the phone is the convenience. – Unfortunately, I think I have to agree with Riley here. I dont see that ever happening for the iPhone.

Thankfully, we have options like AltStore. That is, if Apple doesnt shut it down immediately. I only get to it pick my starter, which I feel like is going to anger the internet. Bulbasaur? No way.

Charmander? Absolutely not. Im definitely gonna get Squirtle.

Hell yeah.

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