Hands on with Lima, a browser based Cydia alternative

By , Apr 28, 2012

Over the years there has been no shortage of proclaimed Cydia replacements, alternatives, and supplements.

Lima is the latest such purported alternative, but it has one unique thing going for it that makes it a bit different from the others — it’s entirely browser based.

Is Lima a legitimate threat to Cydia’s dominance?

I’ve had the privilege to go hands-on with a beta copy, and I’d like to share some of the things that I found with you.

Setting it all up

Since I’m testing a beta copy, the setup process is likely a bit more cumbersome that it will be once it officially launches.

As it stands, setting up the Lima beta involves the following.

  • Adding a unique source to Cydia
  • Downloading the Lima service
  • Rebooting the iPhone
  • Navigating to a unique URL via Safari to authorize my device.

It’s a lot of steps, but again, this is apparently just for the beta authorization. I’ve been provided with 4 additional beta invites that we will be giving away in the near future.

Using Lima

Once you’re installed and authorized to use Lima, it’s pretty straightforward from there.

Opening Lima in Safari yields a home page that provides you with some details about Lima such as My Lima, which is still in the works, and a Network status link to check the availability of the servers, databases, etc.

I like the fact that Lima provides such transparency for its end users. I think this is something Cydia could use when its default repos are down for maintenance.

Also included on the home page is a link dedicated to package developers, an email shortcut to report problems, and the obligatory terms of service and credit links.

Along the bottom of the page are four main tabs, Home, Sections, Search, and More. Since we’ve already divulged the details of home page, let’s focus on the latter three tabs.

Sections

This is very similar to the Sections tab found in Cydia. In fact, it’s almost exactly the same. Here you can navigate to specific types of packages like Ringtones, Tweaks, Themes, etc. Unfortunately, unlike Cydia, there’s no method for disabling certain sections. This causes one to be inundated with packages that you may not have any interest in. Hopefully the developers of Lima will make that an option in a future update.

Search

Search, like Sections before it, performs similar to Cydia, yet it’s not quite as functional. For one, there’s no predictive search like you find in Cydia. Oddly enough, though, I was able to yield more accurate search results with Lima when compared to Cydia.

For example, when I submit a search for SBSettings, voila! SBSettings is the first package that is displayed at the top of the search results. When I do the same thing in Cydia, I’m presented with a theme for SBSettings as the top result instead.

This problem is rarely an issue with Cydia due to the nature of the predictive searching capabilities, but nonetheless it is worth noting.

More

The More tab is likely where you will be spending the most time with Lima. The following sections are included in the more tab: Installed Packages, Reset Lima cookies, New packages, Package updates, and Lima status blog. Let’s examine each of these one by one.

Installed Packages: Here is where you find a full listing of all of your installed packages. Lima finds all of the packages you have installed via Cydia as well, so it’s an unabridged look at what’s on your device.

Unlike Cydia, there is no User view available in Lima, so you’re subjected to the full listing of every single package whether you understand what it does or not. For novice users, this can be a bit overwhelming and confusing.

Tapping on a specific package yields verbose details about said package, including More Info, Section, Size, and Source. This view is organized in a very basic manner and is completely devoid of advertisements. That’s a fact one can appreciate after being subjected to the uber-annoying ads thats seem to litter Cydia’s repos.

The reason why that’s possible is because Lima doesn’t incorporate the More Info page from the specific repo within the body of the package details. Instead, tapping the More Info link within Lima will open up a new browser window where you can glean additional information (screenshots, detailed notes, etc) about the app or tweak in question. Here is where you are generally subjected to advertisements.

Reset Lima cookies: Doesn’t function in my beta copy.

New packages: This is the equivalent of the Changes tab in Cydia, except it doesn’t list any Available Upgrades you may have waiting. I also noticed that only seven package seem to be available for view under this section. Apparently, if you want the full monty you’ll have to use the Search tab and know specifically what you’re looking for. In my opinion this is one of the biggest downsides thus far when comparing Lima to Cydia; there’s no true way to get a good scope of what’s newly available.

Package updates: Unlike Cydia, Lima contains a section specifically dedicated to package updates. Oddly enough, the updates listed in Cydia differed from what was available in Lima. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but that’s what I found. One example was with Erica Utilities. In Cydia, no update was available, and I was still on beta17. In Lima, on the other hand, it showed an update available to version 0.4.2.

I decided to go ahead an update my Erica Utilities package via Lima, and the installation appeared to work fine. When I went back to Cydia, an update for Erica Utilities now appeared to be available, though it showed the current version as being 0.4.2. I decided to upgrade, and it went back to beta 17. So apparently Cydia believes that beta17 is the latest version of Erica Utilities, while Lima thinks it’s version 0.4.2. Either way, I’m pretty sure beta 17 is the latest version of Erica Utilities.

In addition to the issue with Erica Utilities, Cydia was reporting that I had a package update for AssistantServer Installer, which I know for a fact to be legit. With Lima, the package itself, let alone any updates, was nowhere to be found. That’s because one of Cydia’s default repos — the ZodTTD & MacCiti repo — is not a part of Lima at this time.

The only repos currently included with Lima are as follows:

  • BigBoss
  • ModMyi
  • Saurik

These types of inconsistencies are some of the things you’re bound to encounter while using Lima. If Cydia reports that a particular package is the latest version, I will trust it well before I trust a newcomer like Lima.

Lima status blog A simple status message that tells you whether or not all systems are online.

Installing packages

No matter how many features a package manager claims to have, at the end of the day it’s still about installing and uninstalling packages. If a package manager can’t do that right, then it just isn’t worth using much.

My experience with Lima in this regard has been a mixed bag of good and bad. When it works, it works great — just as expected. When you’ve located a package you want to install, simply tap install in the upper right-hand corner and the package installs. Simple, right?

The Lima developers have placed a lot of effort into managing the package dependency chains and conflicts, and it works well to a large extent, but they admit that there still might be a few bugs in the system. I experienced a few of these bugs when Lima reports that I have a package conflict, when I indeed do not. I was able to install the same package via Cydia with no qualms.

Sometimes Lima isn’t so clear when it comes to requirements and dependencies. For instance, when I opened the iPad only Quasar tweak, I wasn’t told that I couldn’t install it. Instead, an install button was simply omitted altogether.

And paid tweaks seem not to be supported at all at this point. When I tried to install Call Recorder for Skype I was told that “not all packages could be located”. In some cases, like outright unsupported tweaks, install buttons just failed to appear at all.

The bottom line is that Lima still has a long way to go when it comes to the very basics of package management. It’s still beta, so you can’t judge the whole project off of these issues, but if there is one thing that the team should focus primarily on, it has to be basic package management.

What I like about Lima

The fact that Lima even exists is a huge testament to the dedication and time put into this creation. It’s been nearly a year since we initially heard about Lima, and I was sure it was destined for vaporware status.

Obviously I shouldn’t have doubted the team behind Lima. This is a real product, and it really works. That in itself is worth significant commendation.

I also love how minimal the interface looks, it’s very inconspicuous. Let’s face it, Cydia can look quite messy sometimes with the various headings, sections, and terrible advertisements. Compared to Cydia, Lima is like a breath of fresh air in that area.

A work in progress

Despite how much I adore the interface, there simply is no comparison at this point with regard to simple functionality. Cydia has been around a long time, and should be superior to Lima in virtually every usability facet — and it is.

With Lima, there’s currently no way to add 3rd party repositories. There’s no predictive search capabilities, resulting in the need to be exact with your searches. The interface can be slow and jerky, and the package management and discovery elements are at best mildly adequate.

Even with these shortcomings, Lima is an absolute amazing accomplishment thus far, and we have to remember that it’s still in beta.

It’s obvious that a ton of work has been put into the development of Lima, and the team has an excellent skeleton that just needs to be fleshed out a bit. Subtle things like missing UI elements (no back buttons on certain pages), various crashes, and missing installation logs, make it feel just like the beta that it currently is.

If they can work on the fundamentals — primarily revolving around basic package management — then everything else is bound to fall into place. One of the reasons that Cydia has been so popular is due to its ease of use. It’s incredibly easy to install and uninstall packages. Cydia even features different user levels so more novice users will only see items that pertain to them. If Lima can simplify the user experience, then it has major potential.

I understand that the developers of Lima are looking at it as an “experiment” but it can be much more than that with some needed polish. Hopefully the folks behind Lima will stay motivated to finish their project.

If you want to be able to try Lima for yourself, stay tuned. We’ll be giving away a few beta invites to a few of our readers in the near future.

What do you think about Lima? Would you consider using it based on the info we’ve provided you with? Do you welcome another competitor to Cydia?

Let us know your thoughts on Lima in the comment section below.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/colby.kirchner Colby Kirchner

    Mi thought this idea got scrapped! Would love to score an invite to this!

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      Nope, it’s definitely alive and well. We’ll have more about beta invites soon.

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      The idea was never scrapped, just remade from scratch with better code and a fresh look. Took a bit longer than we expected ;)

  • kraglin

    Any idea on when this will be available to the public?

  • http://open.spotify.com/user/iphonetunez Rayz

    I absolutely loved your article on Lima. Thanks for posting it. I love the way it sounds based upon what I read. To me, Cydia is much too “trendy” if you know what I mean and a fresh face is always welcome to me. Especially one such as Lima that’s so new and has released a Beta version vs. a fully optimized version. This shows me they have much confidence in their product and rely on user feedback for improvement being such a newcomer. I can’t much attest to the packages and such because those you have to deal with hands on but the safari linkage, updates, ui and such sound great. I’d 100% give it a try.

    • http://twitter.com/christodouluke Luke Christodoulou

      I have no idea what you mean when you say cydia is “trendy” or why that would be a bad thing.

  • http://twitter.com/iAppleTech2 iAppleTech

    The idea and concept is great. Hopefully it will run smooth and fast! Hopefully I can get in with the beta !!!!

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      I’m glad you like the concept. We will be doing our best to make sure it is running fast and elimating bugs as we find them.

  • http://twitter.com/420TechCloud 420d3V

    I would like a invite ASAP

  • http://www.facebook.com/hazwan.haron Hazwan Haron

    cydia is more better like this.

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      We all have our opinions. Though I would love to hear what you would like from Lima and how we can improve it.

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate the hard work that has gone in to this, as it does look very nice aesthetically, but at the end of the day all I care about is having a highly reliable, user friendly way of purchasing, installing and managing my tweaks. Cydia may not be perfect but it does what I want it to perfectly. There’s room for improvement, but I wish the designers of Lima had teamed up with Saurik to give Cydia a facelift and/or more features, rather than creating a competing, and ultimately inferior platform.

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      I don’t really like to call it competing. Though I think there is always room for an alternative. Lima is just in its beta stage now. I can tell you with confidence that we still have much to add. I have over 2 full pages of ideas we can add and improve on.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for the reply and I’m sorry for the negativity. Looks like you’ve put a ton of work into this and I should really hold off judgement until trying it for myself. If it is indeed more of a “complimentary” service to Cydia, rather than a direct competitor, then by all means having more options is good. Providing bugs are fixed as I’d hate to see people lose their jailbreaks via incorrect dependencies, app updates etc.

        If user feedback such as ratings/reviews are incorporated that would definitely enhance my interest as well.

        Keep up the good work and I’ll try to keep an open mind until I can try Lima out for myself :)

      • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

        That is quite alright. Also yes, we are working on finding and elimating all bugs that we find, this is one of the reasons we want to have a beta period, as it is much easier to find problems by real world usage vs. a small team bug testing. I’m not sure how I overlooked the idea of a rating system and reviews, but you can be sure I just added that to my list. Keeping an open mind is all I ask, and if you visit the Lima website you may register for when the beta becomes avaliable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pako-Bahena/100001763890267 Pako Bahena

    Yup, would defitenitely want a beta invite for this :D
    Concept is great, I can see this replacing cydia and that way we won’t have to jailbreak meaning we will always be able to download tweaks no matter what firmware we’re in. Unless this also depends of Firmwares? The Developers of Lima and Surik should work together to perfect this project out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pako-Bahena/100001763890267 Pako Bahena

    Yup, would defitenitely want a beta invite for this :D
    Concept is great, I can see this replacing cydia and that way we won’t have to jailbreak meaning we will always be able to download tweaks no matter what firmware we’re in. Unless this also depends of Firmwares? The Developers of Lima and Surik should work together to perfect this project out.

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      Yes, this requires a jailbreak as well. You have to add Lima via a 3rd party Cydia repo before you can get started.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pako-Bahena/100001763890267 Pako Bahena

        Bloop, you bursted my bubble. Lol.
        We’ll see if sometime in the future it won’t require a jailbreak. Now that, would be amazing (:

    • http://twitter.com/kylebshr Kyle Bashour

      This does, of course, require a jailbreak. Installing the packages requires root user privileges, so simply having a website to download the package from would be useless without a jailbreak.

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      Yes, our service does require a jailbreak. In the beta stage you will have to add a 3rd party source to Cydia to install the plugin. Though once the service is out of beta, we will see what we can do to get it integrated as an install option for popular jailbreak tools.

  • http://twitter.com/Devin_Plebuch Devin Plebuch

    What’s the point? Is it going to have a competing price scale with Cydia? Is it going to work in conjunction with Cydia (purchase a tweak in one, get the tweak for free in the other, or use xBackup will install tweaks from both stores)? Will it have unique repos? What about safety? etc. etc. etc. If not, all it does is slightly redirect the flow of revenue to another store.

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      We will not be operating our own store. Currently we are working on linking your Cydia store account with Lima so you can purchase via the account and install your paid packages through Lima. The Cydia store works well and I see no reason to replace it and create confusion and separation in the jailbreaking community. For now, Lima will have all the default repos (the one missing will be added soon). In the future we hope to add an option where you can define your own 3rd party ones to be added. In reference to security, we have taken steps to make this secure but if you would like more information I suggest you read our release note on the Lima installer website. If you have anymore questions, just shoot me a message on twitter or respond here.

      • http://twitter.com/Devin_Plebuch Devin Plebuch

        Any possibility you’ll expand and make it work on my iMac so I can acess my files and download the .deb files directly to my computer for storage and, eventually, utilize them for a restore via iFile? That is what I’d really love to see.

      • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

        We are building a desktop version of our site which will help with such things. We are also considering the possiblity of a desktop client, though I don’t have any details at this time.

  • Anonymous

    Good lord, please save us from Cydia! That steaming pile of non-innovation was the reason I stopped jailbreaking after they bought up and shut down Rock.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rajantailor62.fb Rajan Tailor

    can anyone tell me whats name of the tweak that allows you to send sms from your mac using your iphone’s carrier on 3g ? (not using wifi ) iphone 4s is connected to internet using 3g and the mac using 3g dongle.

  • Imahottguy

    I would love to test out Lima, competition is always a good thing. I really dig the idea of a browser based package manager. I’m curious, why choose browser based? How much of the app is on the iDevice? What advantage(s) is/are there with Lima compared to Cydia?

    I am reminded how Installer was the end-all-be-all for what seemed like a long time. When Cydia first came out, and did not allow 3rd party repos at that time either, I thought it was “ok” but could not beat Installer. I then tried RYP, and thought that it was awesome, and the future. It had so many great extras that Cydia and Installer did not. I understand though the reason for keeping the pkg manager short simple and sweet: it really is meant just for installing/uninstalling things. While having an all-in-one utility is nice, it seems to me that dedicating ones time and energy to one task makes for less buggy more worky software. But I digress…

    I really hope that this comes to fruition. I would be honored to put Lima through the ringer, and help to smoke out any bugs!

  • Donovan Wynter

    so whats the reason for this when it has to be added via cydia and offering almost the same kind of services as cydia in a different way??

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      The hope is to eventually make it so it’s installed when you jailbreak by default. To answer your second question, you could think of it as the same reason there are both Macs and PC’s.

      • http://twitter.com/LustigLabs Lakota Lustig

        Hey I registered for an invite. I would like to help with this project. I had a similar idea. If u would like me to help on this project, I would be honored. Email me: lakotasmith25@gmail.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001356195704 Brady Thomson

    This looks like an amazing alternative to Cydia! So clean and fresh! I’d love to have the chance to get Beta access to Lima! Nice work so far, can’t wait until it’s released publicly!

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      I’m glad you like what we have so far. I can assure you we are working hard to fix all the bugs and ready for a release, although we have no set time yet.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001356195704 Brady Thomson

        I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the release!

      • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

        If you visit the Lima installer website, you can register for the beta to get an invite for when it comes out.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001356195704 Brady Thomson

        Already done! :) Sorry couldn’t reply to your reply.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reanimationxp Drew Alden

    I don’t understand why people always tout “browser-based” as being a good thing. Web apps inherently suck.. they’re slower than native, awful for things like lists and input, and usually more memory-intensive. The ONLY reason to make an app browser based these days is to make it cross-platform, yet I see tons of instances like this where the app could ONLY be used on one platform.. or web-based apps for PC ONLY work in IE.

    What the hell is the point and why do the same people who advertise native as being a good thing, also advertise browser-based as a good thing. Yes both CAN have their advantages, but in a situation like this, browser-based makes no sense at all.

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      I understand your concerns, but they are not always slower than native as most of the processing is done server side. The only real work the device does is render the page, and being accessed for installing and such. In response to the cross platform question, we have plans for something similar, but not android if that’s what your thinking. In response to browser based stuff sucking, that’s your opinion and you are entitled to it, though I kindly ask that you reserve you judgement until you try the service, the product is not finished yet and we are having this beta to work out all the kinks. If you have any other concerns just shoot me a message on twitter or respond here

      • http://www.facebook.com/reanimationxp Drew Alden

        This wasn’t necessarily a jab at your product. Obviously I haven’t tried it yet. Just sick of people acting like web-based is a good thing. Given the choice between native and webapp, it’s native all day.

      • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

        That’s alright, I didn’t take it that way.

  • http://twitter.com/SarmadMakhdoom Sarmad Makhdoom

    I also wanted to test this bets, how can I ask for invite?

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      You can register for the beta on the Lima installer website

  • Anonymous

    Jeff, I just wanted to commend you on this video. Really well done and one of the main reasons I keep coming back to iDB.

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      I have to agree, I was very impressed of his review and welcomed his compliments as well as the critisim.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see the point to this, why make an alternative to something that already works fine. Then this Lima thing is web based and that sucks even more. I still don’t see anything replacing Cydia for a very long time maybe even never.

    It’s funny how you guys talk about Cydia and Lima like you guys use it as much as Facebook, Twitter or just browsing the web. I probably use Cydia 3 times a week if that and I only spend 3-5 min. browsing through the crapy themes just to find useful tweaks. They need to develop something to control the amount of themes are allowed to be posted in the Changes section. I’ve been jail breaking ever since the first iPhone and waiting an extra 1 min. for a package to load won’t kill me. So enjoy the things we already have and be thankful for Cydia because if it wasn’t for Saurik creating Cydia and managing it for all of these year non of you would have had a jailbroken iPhone, iPod or an iPad.

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      The point of Lima is to have a choice, or an alternative way of doing things. On your opinion of it being web based, could you lease elaborate a bit more on why it sucks because of that. Much of Cydia itself is web based where depictions, and main Cydia page are all HTML. Lima is not really meant to replace Cydia, certainly not in its beta stage.

      As to the finding of new themes, and tweaks. I have some ideas to solve and improve on this and I hope you will be there to try them out when we release them. All I ask is to keep an open mind. Though if you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them either here or on twitter

    • http://twitter.com/x_rus_x Vitaliy Anonymous

      You can filter out so that there wouldn’t be any themes showing in changes.

    • brittag

      To filter out themes from showing up in the Changes section in Cydia: tap “Sections”, tap “Edit” (on top right), and turn off all the theme sections. This hides those packages from the Changes page, and they’ll still show up in Search so that you can find them if you really want to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dell-Latitude/100002822707278 Dell Latitude

    what program did you use to create this website

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      If you are talking about Lima, it was coded, though if you are talking about iDownloadblog, they use WordPress.

  • http://twitter.com/TrentManson333 Shem Williams

    Nice I’d love to try it

  • http://twitter.com/iKrill Antonio Santos

    Cydia sucks. To slow and overrated.

  • Anonymous

    What did you mean by “the developers of Lima are looking at it as an “experiment” “? An experiment to see if it is accepted by the jailbreak community? A jump off for other browser based interfaces? An application to test their ability to work together on a project?

  • Anonymous

    Will you need cydia on top of this or is it free or all:)

  • http://twitter.com/haseebaman1 Haseeb Aman

    nice voice

  • Anonymous

    I guess anything “new” is good for you guys

    nice article tho

  • http://www.facebook.com/Matthew.Alner DrunkenTramp

    Well it’s got Cydia beat on the UI front, but that’s a low bar to hurdle. What it needs is to carry that clean look all the way through the fact that the more info page looks the same as Cydia is sad so beautiful up until that point. I’m assuming that it changes because that’s how the repo formats it but can’t you convert it in to something that looks good and is standardised, much like the reader functionality in Safari?

    Also the others are right Cydia is missing proper reviews done per release version and any sort of chart system, (well that updates with any sort of regularity) and you could fix this!

    What would be awesome is a download queue and a full sized PC browser companion so could read a review of a tweak on idownload blog follow a link at the bottom of the article to a full size web page that would either add the tweak to a queue to download later on my device or register my interest and either email me or have some sort of badge or notification in my Lima account when its out.

    Also gift a tweak to a friend would be full of win or at least suggest to a friend
    Also noticed that there is no logo when you save as a web clip.
    Browse via developer would also be a cool feature.

    • http://twitter.com/Awmusic12635 Awmusic12635

      Thank you for the response, I appreciate suggestions. I do agree with the mode info that it should be improve. We are working on something that will hopefully take care of that. We are also looking into implementing a rating and review system as I feel that would help people to better understand what is good and what is not. Believe it or not, you almost hit spot on with the desktop optimized site we are designing. I am grateful for all your recommendations and if you have anymore don’t hesitate to send me a message on twitter

  • Dawn Coplin

    Looks promising, I would love an invite

  • http://twitter.com/kingmoe738 Kingmoe738

    o ya got my email im a beta tester!!:)

  • http://twitter.com/shulika49 Шулика Анатолий

    won giveaway… THANKS iDB and JEFF BENJAMIN

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HLCZOTK7B63ZMZQPAJXN4ALYPU Crazy

    What’s the security code?