iOSOpenDev Is A “Shortcut” For Cydia Devs, But Is That A Good Thing? [Interview]


Screen shot 2012-02-09 at 11.52.01 AM

The jailbreak community is full of talented developers and innovative ideas that have kept Apple on its toes for the past several years. The time and effort that goes into creating a quality tweak is often unappreciated by the average jailbreaker.

A free tool called iOSOpenDev was recently released for developers. Those with basic programming knowledge can use Xcode templates for creating jailbreak-style apps and tweaks that can be easily published to Cydia, the jailbreak version of the App Store. While iOSOpenDev is attempting to make it easier for developers to code tweaks, apps and plugins, we sat down with a prominent jailbreak developer to ask if iOSOpenDev is really a good thing for the jailbreak community.

iOSOpenDev sets up a developing environment with Xcode and the iOS SDK for devs to make tweaks and plugins for prominent Cydia apps. Not only can those with the programming smarts make their own tweaks from scratch, but Xcode templates are provided for creating tweaks that work with popular apps like SBSettings and Activator. (When we use the word “tweak,” we’re talking about a package that alters, enhances, adds, or slightly modifies behavior in iOS.) Once a dev has tested a creation, the package can be submitted to Cydia and made available to the public.

Filippo Bigarella is a student developer from Italy. He’s been actively writing apps and tweaks for several years now, and he’s behind some of the most prominent tweaks and apps in Cydia, including the newly-released Springtomize 2 for iOS 5. We got to sit down with Filippo and briefly talk about iOSOpenDev and the effect it could have on the jailbreak community.

More developers will have the opportunity to create tweaks and plugins with iOSOpenDev, but we could see a larger divide grow between the number of quality and cheap jailbreak apps. Apple’s App Store is home to many great apps, but there are thousands of worthless apps as well. If anything, iOSOpenDev makes the prospect of coding for Cydia less intimidating, which will in turn bring in many wannabe devs. Keep reading to see what Filippo had to say.

CoM: As you know, the iOSOpenDev tool was recently released. Anyone with some basic Xcode knowledge can make jailbreak tweaks now. While there seems to be some nice plugins and extensions, the options look fairly limited overall. Do you think that iOSOpenDev will help wannabe developers make compelling tweaks?

Filippo: First of all, I would like to explain that you still need to be able to code in order to write tweaks, even using iOSOpenDev. What that package does is set up a development environment to develop for jailbroken devices using Xcode. I think that even if it may be useful in some ways, unfortunately it will probably be considered to be a “shortcut” for unexperienced developers.

CoM: Have you gotten to play with iOSOpenDev? Could someone make the next Springtomize 2 with such a tool?

Filippo: I don’t like that idea too much, and I’m very comfortable with Theos and Logos, two projects developed by Dustin Howett for jailbroken iOS development. Installing Theos requires setting up a development environment, and even if it’s a very simple process, I think it’s useful to learn a few concepts of programming. With regards to what someone can make using iOSOpenDev, there are no limitations that differ from normal developing, but you still need to be able to write code in order to make a tweak.

CoM: What do you think about the state of quality Cydia tweaks out there? Have we seen a decline in innovation since iOS 5?

Filippo: I think that, since iOS 5, a lot of new developers started approaching the scene. What I and other people have noticed is that many of them are not really interested in learning how to program, but instead making something to publish (most of the times without even knowing what they are doing). What derives from this widespread mentality is poorly written tweaks that are published on the Cydia Store. I always say that “learning by doing” is the best way to learn, but only if you’re actually interested in learning and not the result of your first project.