Back in December, we got our first proper look at iMods, an alternative to the long-standing jailbreak portal that is Cydia, and with its enticing, modern layout and App Store-like graphics, it has left more than a few jailbreakers eager for the release. Now, it has emerged that Comex, former wizkid and author of JailbreakMe, is creating a new alternative to Cydia Substrate called Substitute from the ground up, and notably, iMods will be using it.
Cydia Substrate, simply put, is a platform created by Saurik, author of Cydia, WinterBoard, and many other long-standing or otherwise integral components of the jailbreak arena. Cydia is the portal, but Substrate is the underbelly, providing an infrastructure for developers to create add-ons that can modify the iOS experience without access to the source code.
So, why would Comex come through and develop an alternative to a platform that is here, fit for purpose, and has been maintained and improved with each new version of iOS and subsequent jailbreak? The main reason, as he explains at length on his GitHub page, is that unlike Cydia itself, Cydia Substrate is closed-source; he’s an advocate for free / open alternatives to proprietary software, and while he cautiously notes of Saurik aversion to supporting iMods with Cydia Substrate, the JailbreakMe creator’s decision coincides with a calling from the iMods team.
So, in short, Comex was asked by iMods to build an open-source Substrate Substitute for iMods and he has duly obliged, but it seems that his own views on software and competition have played a major part in the decision as well.
Alternatives to popular software tend to crop up all the time, and while iMods’ neat layout and attention to detail did give it more credibility than most when it burst onto the scene, the sheer longevity of Cydia and its familiarity to the jailbreak faithful would have led some to believe that iMods was no more than a flash in the pan or a pipe dream.
But with Comex now, to all intents and purposes, on board with the project, iMods is definitely a thing, and it’ll be interesting to see how this modernized, open-source project fares when it does eventually launch.
What do you make of this; do you believe competition is good for the community? Or is this likely to create an unhealthy, divisive friction that becomes detrimental?
Update: Saurik has now posted his response to Comex’s Substitute.