Write your own jailbreak tweaks on the fly with upcoming ‘Flex’ utility

By , Jan 14, 2013

flex patches

John Coates, the developer behind the MissionBoard Pro jailbreak tweak, has posted a thread on Reddit about an upcoming jailbreak app called Flex. Flex is an exciting new app that allows users to make and share their own runtime patches, not just to iOS itself but to any app you have installed.

What can you do with Flex? From the looks of it, you can modify just about any app’s behavior. In the preview screenshots, there are patches for unlimited skips in Pandora, removing the lock screen’s camera grabber, nixing the ratings warning when downloading from the the App Store, and even cheating in games like Tiny Tower. Think of it as a Game Genie for iOS…

Not impressed yet? Check out the YouTube demonstration where the developer cobbles together a working Flex patch in under 30 seconds. The patch is identical in functionality to the MarkThatMessage tweak in Cydia, but it was ‘written’ on the fly.

You’re probably thinking Flex is just for coders. Coates doesn’t. According to the developer, the app does all the heavy lifting; making new Flex patches requires absolutely no coding knowledge whatsoever:

You basically search for a keyword that’s related to what you want to change.

Say you want to increase the amount of tabs Safari can have. So you make a new patch, and search for “maximum”. You’ll find two results, one which says “maxiumumTabDocumentCount” You click it, change the return value to 30 and suddenly you can have 30 Safari tabs.

flex unit settings

Imagine having control over almost any variable behavior on your iPhone, yourself, from within an app running on that phone. If Flex does what it promises, this will change the way we all think about MobileSubstrate tweaks. On the downside, it could also make it easier to sneak around terms of service for content providers, cheat app store developers, and mess up quite a few competitive games.

Flex went into a closed beta today, to the first few posters on the announcement thread. There’s no ETA on when the final version will be ready for release, except “soon”.

To our readers: what would you do if you could make any tweak you wanted?

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  • http://twitter.com/Grolubao Grolubao

    Seems great! Would love to test it!

  • skychet

    Does anyone know if AppleCare+ is honored abroad?

  • http://twitter.com/nosdrew Andrew Richardson

    While this is a nice idea in theory, it’s extremely naïve to suggest that this requires no programming knowledge to create these tweaks. You’re going to get yourself into a world of hurt if you start messing around with methods willy-nilly. The idea that people with no experience in iOS programming can mess with the Objective-C runtime without any insight into the consequences of what they’re doing, and then share those tweaks with others, scares the crap out of me.

    And sorry to burst your bubble guys, but this is only going to work in a handful of situations. The vast majority of tweaks are not as simple as changing a few return values, which is basically all this app can do.

    • http://Michaelschnier.tumblr.com Michael Schnier

      Here’s the developer’s words, not mine: “Absolutely no programming knowledge is needed. You basically search for a keyword that’s related to what you want to change.”

      The way it’s set up, it doesn’t look too hard to figure out. Worst case scenario, boot into mobilesubstrate’s safemode.

      • http://twitter.com/nosdrew Andrew Richardson

        It’s not hard to figure out, right, but the reason that’s the case is because this approach is allowing people to ignore all the nuances of programming and the consequences if something goes wrong. Because let’s be perfectly clear, this IS messing directly with the internals of an app, which is a dangerous place to be if you don’t know what you’re doing. And that’s exactly what this tweak is encouraging – messing with a complex application wherein you don’t need to have a clue as to what you’re actually doing.

        It’s nice for a select group of people, but it’s going to make life much more difficult for people like me, who might have to start supporting people using this app in conjunction with other tweaks, and wondering why they broke or became buggy. I for one am terrified by that prospect.

      • truehybridx

        Wait.. wouldnt it technically be the same as supporting people who are using some other tweak that interferes with yours? Still the same headache right?

      • http://Michaelschnier.tumblr.com Michael Schnier

        Same headache, just a lot more of it. :)

        I can definitely see what Andrew is getting at, but I’m eager to play around with this app.

      • http://twitter.com/nosdrew Andrew Richardson

        Nope. For one, these tweaks are essentially “untraceable”, because they aren’t automatically included in support emails and aren’t loaded as separate, identifiable tweaks. So I couldn’t possibly tell what tweaks you’d made with that app without you explicitly telling me what they are.

        Second, I can at least hold out some hope that people writing tweaks on Cydia have some idea of what they’re doing (which is far from always true), whereas with this tweak I basically have to assume that the person hasn’t got a clue what they’re doing, which makes my job of identifying the problem much harder.

        The easy solution for me is to just not support people using this tweak, and I’m strongly considering that idea right now.

      • http://twitter.com/_Yllier_ Yllier

        While I share your concerns, my approach will be: I’ll take a look at all the methods/functions that can be modified. If I’ll have only the slightest suspicion that it could interfere with my tweaks, I’ll ask the customers who have installed Flex (dpkg.log) to uninstall Flex and reproduce the issue. Only then I’m going to offer “real” support

      • truehybridx

        No one will blame you, besides it’ll just be like if someone wanted support and the tweak had xsellize or sinfuliphone in the ID.

        Think of this are Arduino for iPhone, it’ll get people who never would be interested otherwise in tweaking and playing around with their phones like this, half of them will become little trolls wanting to learn how to do legitimate tweaks but dont want to learn the right way, the other half will actually LEARN something useful and add to the community’s development

  • http://twitter.com/xUnicornxPornx Tender Vittles

    Would this allow for quick reply like bitesms?

    • http://Michaelschnier.tumblr.com Michael Schnier

      My guess is no. That would require new code and art assets, and I don’t think Flex would allow for it. As far as I understood just lets you change variables, which you can do a lot with.

      Like I said, think of it more like a Game Genie. It can’t put anything new on your phone, but it can change or negate behaviors that are already there.

  • http://aalaap.com Aalaap Ghag

    This is a great idea! Kinda like Greasemonkey for the whole of iOS. This should be fun.

  • Latrese

    It’s like a springtomize for everything… Awesome lol

  • Curt Done

    Sounds kinda like lucky patcher

  • http://www.facebook.com/orlando.kent3 Diego Mejia Gonzalez

    Ahora si no entendi alguien que me diga de que se trata en español?

  • hasan51h

    very nice

  • Ben

    This has been around for ages… It’s called editing .plists.

    • truehybridx

      THis is no where near editing plists

      • Ben

        It really depends what direction you take this app. For cheating in games, yes I was wrong, but what about editing certain files…

    • Guest

      Brains have been around for years, too. But you still don’t have one.

      • Ben

        And “Guest”, how would I be writing this? Next time sign up, it adds more effect…

      • Guest

        effect? sorry im not designing anything, but since u supposedly use your brain try that effect on it, might help…

      • Ben

        This is how you should have wrote that comment: “Effect? Sorry, I’m not a designer but since you supposedly use your brain you should try that effect on it, it might help.” You also shouldn’t have put the “…” At the end because it implies that you want me to reply.

      • Guest

        Well first of all you did reply which means you used your brain, second, correcting me doesn’t make you smarter, it just means that your were a jerk for actually understanding what i said but yet you spelled check me. It doesn’t really matter what people say about what i write or how to write, besides im pretty sure you got the point.

      • EpicFacepalm

        Epic win, Guest! Well done… (intentionally put ‘…’)

      • Ben

      • Guest

        Thanx EpicFacepalm, some people just lose their common sense from time to time. Thou i wish i could change my “Guest” to an actual name that i want…

  • http://twitter.com/rv1raj ravirajm

    It’s like giving guns to kids.

    • http://twitter.com/rud0lf77 Rudolf Lichtner

      You are completely right, my dear friend!

      • truehybridx

        how is it like giving guns to kids? its more like giving your kid a screw driver and saying go for it on a computer or a tv, they are going to break EVERYTHING, but eventually learn what does what

  • Alex Janko

    My question is will we see a version for iOS 4.2…god I need an upgrade