Cydia and Jailbreaking: What you need to know

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Cydia iOS

iPhone users that contemplate whether to jailbreak their devices or not will most likely meet quite a few terms that they may not fully understand. Cydia and its repositories or “repos” as they are most commonly called are high up on that list of terms. This post will make an effort to explain Cydia in a simple way and also inform potential jailbreakers about what they can do with their Apple-disapproved devices.

Jailbreaking: why and how?

Though customizing your device and installing awesome tweaks may sound fantastic, the decision to jailbreak your device should not be made lightly. The two main concerns is that jailbreaking instantly voids your warranty and that your device may not be as stable as before. You cannot really avoid either of these things so if they are important to you then you may want to rethink your decision.

With all that said, jailbreaking opens doors to entirely new iOS experiences that you cannot really get with what Apple allows you to do. You can find extremely niche tweaks that will fix that one tiny annoyance that you had with your iPhone or even change the look of your device so that you can have a truly unique phone on your hands. Finally, the jailbreak community is incredibly helpful and active so you will always be informed about the latest changes and upcoming features.

As for the “how” part, things get a bit more complicated here because each iOS version requires a different tool for the jailbreak. For iOS 8.1.3-8.4 I would recommend grabbing TaiG’s tool and then following our guide on jailbreaking your device  TaiG’s website has both Windows and OS X versions so you will not be left out. For iOS 8.0-8.1.2 you can grab TaiG’s jailbreak here for Windows and PP’s tool here  for OS X.

Breaking out

Those who are just now getting into jailbreaking may find it strange that Cydia gets mentioned everywhere. But anyone who already owns a jailbroken iOS device will tell you that Cydia is a vital and inseparable part of jailbreaking. When you perform the process, Cydia automatically gets installed in your device so that you can find and install new tweaks with ease. The merits of jailbreaking will not be discussed in depth here but you should know that Cydia is such an integrated part of jailbreaking that you really owe it to yourself to become familiar with it before attempting to break the warranty of your iOS device.

Cydia who?

To put it bluntly, Cydia is like an alternate App Store that iPhone users instantly get access to the moment they jailbreak their devices. In fact, Cydia has been around since before the App Store even officially existed back in iOS 1.1 though it now acts more like a distribution center than an app store of any official capacity.

At its core, Cydia is the central hub of jailbroken devices and it is the place where you can get all the tweaks you could possibly dream of. I will presume that you do not really know what repos are so look below for an answer.

And if it all looks a bit confusing to you, check out our guide on how to use Cydia for detailed information about its different sections.

A repo here, a repo there

If Cydia is like the heart and brain of the jailbreaking industry, repositories are like the veins pumping blood to a living organism. As their name suggests, repos are huge sources of apps and tweaks and each of them has its very own selection of items to choose from. In essence, repos allow Cydia to search more places for apps so they are like additional marketplace brands.

Cydia Tweak
A typical tweak page

By default, Cydia comes with a few repos pre-installed including BigBoss and ModMyi.com. Though there are many repos out there, it is highly recommended that you only install the ones that come from trusted sources. You should always do some research before installing any repo to make sure that it is reliable and trustworthy as malicious repos represent huge security breaches in your device.

Tweaking and tinkering

The most common term for apps that you get via Cydia is “tweak”. Tweaks can be both free and paid as there is a huge difference between jailbreaking your device and resorting to piracy in order to get your favorite apps for free. There are quite a few people out there who develop exclusively for jailbroken devices and want their efforts to be rewarded like any other developer so it is not uncommon to run at a paid tweak with some incredibly niche functionality, especially if you look hard enough. When you run into a tweak that you like you should immediately check where it comes from so you are not disappointed if its source is untrustworthy.

Activator Tweak
Activator, one of the most popular tweaks

Tweaks can be virtually anything so do not be surprised when you find out that you can replace Siri with Jarvis , for instance. And if you are looking for a place to get started then I would suggest taking a look at our list of the Best Jailbreak Tweaks for iOS 8 .

Cydia alternatives

Cydia is widely regarded as an uncontested ruler of the jailbreaking market yet, as always, there are some people who do not like it at all. There have been some efforts to provide better alternatives to Cydia in the past but most of them have failed. Saurik’s efforts in the last few months have vastly improved Cydia with new UI changes, a more open approach to development and several background enhancements too, a fact that has appeased most critics for the time bring. The best alternative right now is probably iMods but you will have to wait a few more weeks before trying it out as it is still in beta.

iMods
iMods early UI

The truth is that if you jailbreak then you are stuck with Cydia and that is not a bad thing at all. The creator is still very much active in the jailbreaking community, developers have come to trust the store and existing repos have a ton of users toying around with their iOS devices every day. The importance of the alternate app store in all that is undoubtable and though there are a few annoying issues with it, its core function remains uncontested thus far.

Uninstalling Cydia

By now you probably understand that Cydia is virtually synonymous with jailbreaking and thus you cannot actually remove it. However, you can “unjailbreak” your device as we have already shown you in our guide here. The tool is provided by saurik so you can trust it.