Thursday, September 26, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

AltStore

Riley Testut (tweet):

AltStore is an alternative app store for non-jailbroken devices. Unlike other unofficial app stores today, AltStore does not rely on enterprise certificates, which Apple has been cracking down on more and more recently. Instead, it relies on a lesser known developer feature that allows you to use your Apple ID to install apps you’ve developed yourself with Xcode[…]

AltStore is a fully native, sandboxed iOS application that allows you to sideload apps by essentially “tricking” your phone into thinking it’s installing apps that you made yourself, when really they can be any apps whatsoever. Since this is an actually supported installation method by Apple, it’s far less fragile than other distribution methods in the past[…]

[…]

Unlike apps distributed with a paid Apple Developer account, you can’t install apps distributed with a free Apple ID over-the-air. This means that while we can prepare apps for installation from the AltStore app, unfortunately there is no way to actually install apps directly from the iOS device. However, as it turns out this restriction does not apply to installing apps via iTunes WiFi sync, which is where AltServer comes in.

[…]

All apps signed with a free Apple ID are only valid for 7 days, at which point they expire and can no longer be launched. To compensate for this, AltStore will periodically refresh all your installed apps in the background, or alternatively you can manually refresh the apps yourself from within AltStore.

[…]

Delta of course is not allowed in the App Store due to Apple’s stance on emulation, but why make a clipboard manager when so many already exist in the App Store? Simple: there is no App Store-approved way for apps to run continuously in the background, which means you need to remember to manually open up these apps for them to save your history.

Looks like great work, but I hope Apple Sherlocks it and adds a built-in way for users to sideload apps.

Previously:

Update (2019-10-04): Nick Statt:

For Testut, AltStore arose from him just “wanting to get Delta out” and in the hands of people who’d want to try it. “It just made sense. If I’m building this whole process for Delta, just to build it out for anyone to use,” he says. “I’m also hoping that because I was so motivated to do this, and I build this whole process, other people can now start making more apps to bring to it. I’m doing it because I want to also improve the quality of apps that you won’t find in the App Store, but that could still exist on the platform.”

5 Comments

Sören Nils Kuklau

Played with it; pretty decent onboarding UX.

I’m not entirely sure why it says “Expires in 7 days” (do I need to re-install apps afterwards?).

“tricking” your phone into thinking it’s installing apps that you made yourself

vs.

Since this is an actually supported installation method by Apple

Yeah, but it’s clearly not.

Just like enterprise certificates are for in-house enterprise use and just that, development certificates are for your development purposes.

There’s a risk here that Apple catches wind, gets annoyed and throws a tantrum, and makes the development experience worse for everyone just to block AltStore.

Sören Nils Kuklau

Looks like great work, but I hope Apple Sherlocks it and adds a built-in way for users to sideload apps.

My hope was that this would happen soon after Gatekeeper in 10.8 Mountain Lion, i.e. that, as macOS gets closer to iOS in terms of restricted apps, iOS also takes a step towards macOS in allowing less restricted apps.

Clearly, that hasn’t panned out, and at this point, it seems hard to believe that it ever will.

Yeah this will be gone by the end of the year when iOS 13.2 or whatever rolls around.

I applaud the developer. On a personal level, I will not use iOS, nor even consider iOS as a viable consumer option, until Apple ceases to be "sole arbiter of all things" on the device I purportedly own. I have owned four iOS devices in the past and used to always cross shop Apple devices, even if I sometimes ultimately went with a non Apple device, but I quickly grew weary of the iOS walled garden.

I have so many devices on their second, or third, or even fourth life, precisely because I could manage what could be installed on the device. My iOS devices were comparatively disposable, even though they sometimes had longer official support windows, once the hammer drops, app support can quickly dry up. I have the same experience with routers, computers, etc, my non Apple stuff could move to different roles much easier than my comparatively "well supported" Apple devices. It is what it is.

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