New ‘Reverse BitTorrent’ for App Store Apps Will Make Piracy Easier Than Ever

By , Jan 11, 2011

For the past couple of years, Hackulous has been the foremost source of iOS app piracy in the jailbreak community. The Hackulous mission is a pretty simple one. They circumvent Apple’s DRM (Digital Rights Management) because they believe Apple is unfair to consumers for not providing trials or refund policies in the App Store. Some would argue that software piracy exists simply because people don’t want to have to pay for apps, but we’ll leave that for you to decide.

Hackulous is known for two products: Apptrackr and Installous. Apptrackr is a website index of cracked iOS apps that averages between 10 and 11 million users a month. Installous is the infamous jailbreak utility that allows anyone to search for and install cracked apps via the Apptrackr database. With an install base that’s approaching 10 million jailbroken iDevices, Installous is definitely the most popular mobile platform for piracy.

The Hackulous admin, known as Dissident, recently announced some new innovations from the Hackulous community…

App piracy has never made it mainstream due to the complicated process of submitting a cracked app for indexing in apps like Installous. (And probably because there are still people who think it is wrong.)

In the past, owners of App Store apps would have to crack their apps through an utility like Clutch, then patch, test and upload the cracked app to Apptrackr in order for others to be able find and download cracked apps through Installous.

(Installous recently received a major update that added several, key features and solved lots of bugs.)

Apptrackr has quite the collection of cracked apps, but it by no means indexes all App Store apps. This is mainly due to the fact that few people actually submit cracked apps for others to download. The learning curve that is currently required to crack and submit apps keeps resources like Apptrackr fairly limited.

However, according to Dissident, the Hackulous developers are creating something called “Mobile Hunt.” This technology operates the same way as a reversed BitTorrent process. Instead of downloading content to then “seed” back to other downloaders (how traditional BitTorrent works), Mobile Hunt will “seed” already-downloaded content automatically so that others can also download.

Mobile Hunt is a way of utilizing the millions of Apptrackr peers (users) through the peer-to-peer (P2P) concept of BitTorrent to provide a fix for the bottlenecked supply of cracked apps.

TorrentFreak, a community also dedicated to circumventing Apple’s DRM content, shares a quote from Dissident about Mobile Hunt,

“Essentially what will happen is when you’re using Installous you’ll get a little pop up that says ‘Hey, you have an application that Apptrakr doesn’t. We will add the application to a queue in the background (if you say yes) and it will start uploading tiny pieces of it, kind of like a torrent, up to the cloud’,” Dissident explains.”

Sounds pretty slick, huh? This process could revolutionize piracy on the mobile platform.

TorrentFreak explains Mobile Hunt,

“So, unlike BitTorrent, where one starts with a single file that multiplies the more people jump on the torrent, with Mobile Hunt the start point is perhaps hundreds or thousands of copies of the same piece of software, and little tiny pieces of each upload from each person’s device to the cloud in order to make one final copy, which will then become available from Apptrakr. From there it will be available for millions to download.”

Another announcement from Hackulous pertains to the Mac App Store. The Hackulous community has already figured out a cracking method to get free Mac App Store apps. They are calling the software “Kickback.” They have no immediate plans to release the cracking software to the public,

“Most of the applications that go on the Mac App Store [in the first instance] will be decent, they’ll be pretty good. Apple isn’t going to put crap on the App Store as soon as it gets released. It’ll probably take months for the App Store to actually have a bunch of crappy applications and when we feel that it has a lot of crap in it, we’ll probably release Kickback,” says Dissident.

“So we’re not going to release Kickback until well after the store’s been established, well after developers have gotten their applications up. We don’t want to devalue applications and frustrate developers.”

I’ll admit, I have downloaded an app or two through Installous. But only when the app is not currently available in my country. And I always pay for the app when it comes out in the U.S.

We here at the iPhone Download Blog do not condone app piracy. Piracy is stealing from the fruits of developer’s hard work. These mobile developers are people just like you and me, and they don’t deserve people stealing their content just because it’s software.

What do you think about this news from Hackulous? The idea of Mobile Hunt is very interesting, but does it bother you that so much ease-of-use will be brought to app piracy because of it?

I know that lots of people use Installous to test apps to then buy or not buy in the App Store. Does that make it right to you? What are your thoughts on Installous?

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  • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

    I know it’s almost cliche to say that one uses this sort of thing for trying out apps before buying them, but that really is one of the more common use cases.

    I downloaded Navigon from there, only to discover that I didn’t like it or use it. Saved me $80 from the app store. I’m sure the author would prefer me to have paid him to discover that I didn’t want or need his software, but personally I’m going to say no thanks to that idea.

  • Francisco

    Love it. Thanks for explaining what “Mobile Hunt” is.

  • Alex

    I’m sorry, but since when is TorrentFreak “a community dedicated to circumventing Apple’s DRM content”?

    TorrentFreak is simply a news website which focuses on bittorrent and filesharing NEWS.

  • Alex

    I’m sorry, but since when is TorrentFreak “a community dedicated to circumventing Apple’s DRM content”?
    TorrentFreak is simply a news website which focuses on bittorrent and filesharing NEWS.

  • Alex

    I’m sorry, but since when is TorrentFreak a community which is dedicated to circumventing Apple’s DRM content?
    TorrentFreak is simply a news website which focuses on bittorrent and filesharing NEWS.

  • Alex

    I’m sorry, but since when is TorrentFreak a community which is dedicated to circumventing Apple’s DRM content?
    TorrentFreak is simply a news website which focuses on bit torrent and filesharing NEWS.

  • Blubber

    The Most interesting question is: is it illegal?!
    Because u just Upload Some Bits which alone are just junk, so normally this wouldn’t Be illegal

  • Alex

    Wtf why do I have 4 double posts??? Really sorry

  • sale3

    in some countries don t have money for all that apps just for iphone so instalous is only way to have full fun with apple app……………..

  • http://luxray24_2010@yahoo.com Mark

    My family is a low income family so i think jailbreaking is the right way for us to go.

  • MOSHI

    MAANNN EFF DHIZ…FREE APPS ATT INSTALLOUS ISS THA BEST THINGG SINCE SLICED BREADD….SOO EGTT ATT MEHH CUZZ IENJOYY MII FREE APPS//!!!

  • Sean Carlos

    @MOSHI you’re a fucking idiot..

  • Sean Carlos

    I mean honestly.. Go find a gun and shoot yourself in the fucking dome ’cause you’re a hopeless sack of shit nuts.