Flex Screenshot

Two weeks ago, we showed you an upcoming jailbreak app entitled Flex. The app, the first of its kind, allows every day users to dig into the code, and create custom jailbreak tweaks — called patches — on the fly, with little to no programing knowledge.

Usually when you encounter ambitious apps like this, something is missing. Either the app looks amazing, but fails in execution, or the app looks a hot mess, but is solid from an executional perspective. With Flex, I was happy to find little compromise in either direction. It’s a beautifully designed jailbreak app that’s extremely functional as well.

To be frank, not everyone agrees that end-users should be able to wield such power, especially those with no programing background. Ultimately, that’s going to be a decision you’re going to have to make when considering whether or not to use Flex.

Wherever you stand, you have to be impressed that such an idea has been executed with this level of precision. Take a look at our full video walkthrough of the Flex beta in action, and see for yourself.

At its root, Flex allows you to change the values of existing code already found within the apps on your device. It won’t allow you to alter stuff that doesn’t already exist. Here is an excerpt from developer John Coates concerning this:

With Flex you can change the way apps behave. You’re limited to what’s already in the app, so don’t think you can add anything that doesn’t exist within it already. You basically change the rules, so if you want to hide something, remove a restriction, give yourself more points than you have, etc. then Flex gives you the freedom to do that. You won’t be able to make a patch that adds a new icon to Springboard, but if you want to remove the Newsstand icon then that’s definitely within the capacity.

What you can do with Flex, however, is change existing values. In the beta version that I’m testing, Coates includes a tutorial that shows how to create a quick timestamp tweak for the Messages app. Following the directions was extremely simple. In a few seconds I had a working tweak that enabled timestamps for every message contained within the app.

The really neat thing about Flex is how you can enable or disable a tweak right there on the fly, without the need for a respring. Watch my video walkthrough above to see exactly what I mean.

One of the other awesome features bundled within Flex is the Cloud option. From here, you can upload or download custom created patches, which makes Flex a potential source of original jailbreak tweaks once enough users jump on board.

True, there are limits to the things you can do within Flex. Essentially, all you are doing is altering values that already exist within the various apps you have installed on your phone. With that in mind, I think Flex is an interesting introduction to what really makes iOS tick. Of course, understandably, not everyone will agree with these sentiments, but I think everyone will agree that Flex is an awesome concept with well executed design.

Flex will be available on Cydia next week for $3.99. For more information on Flex, be sure to check out our interview with developer John Coates.

  • I can’t wait to get my iPhone 5 jailbreak!! I want to do this already 🙁

  • This would be very useful since many jailbreak tweaks haven’t update for ios 6 yet. If the rumors are right, we will have Untethered Jailbreak this weekends. Hopefully I can creat my very own jailbreak tweaks.

    • christodouluke

      Call them patches, these aren’t really tweaks.
      I looked at the ios 6 compatibility list on google docs for tweaks that aren’t yet supported/working and none of them are things you can recreate in flex (yet).

    • I really hope that we able to share our flex tweaks online under the tweak developer name and make it as a challenge between developers, leaderboard for best developers and stuff, really interesting idea tho

      • Chuck Norris

        Nah why not have fun and just find tweaks instead of competing. Lets just have fun 🙂

      • Guest

        So the Flex-wannabes just want to get known as “Developers”, although calling them “Developers” would be disrespecting to the real developers.

      • I think this is not a game

  • You know, I’ve pondered if I’m going to bother jailbreaking again. But if regaining tweaks like Blutrol for the iCade wasn’t enough to push me over the edge, this certainly is. Easily worth the $4.

  • christodouluke

    Ha ha omg that’s my patch

  • Most Developers – including me – are not a friend of this idea, we can’t just give the power of Code (in this case users can just change returns, but that’s enough to lead to problems) to people who have no clue about coding. And the worst thing is that suddenly some 10 year old kids will see themselves as “Devs” because they created a Patch with Flex… But wait. That wasn’t really the worst, the worst thing is that real Developers will be getting bug reports by people who use Flex and have messed up everything, therefore some developers won’t even care about devices reporting bugs if they have Flex installed, because it gets more likely that it’s a user’s fault.

    • disqusted

      I’m a programmer, myself… not an Objective C coder.. By trade and circumstance, it’s assembly language for me– so I’m not really an outsider to the “developer mentality”. You made a semi-decent point on your last attempt (talking about the possibility of crash report/dump floods due to this app… valid concern)– but the rest is just the typical pretentious “real” coder attitude… supercilious. “Script kiddies” have existed since the days when internet connections were measured by baud rate. Always were, always will be. Self-importance is pointless.

      How about I make a counter-point, since you weren’t objective, see… GET IT?!?! OBJECTIVE SEE!!? OMFG I’m clever!! Oh… see– that’s what I’m talking about… self-admiration and obsession are best reserved for Buffalo Bill.

      To the counter– what about the consideration that “10 year old kids seeing themselves as developers” could be a good thing, at least for them…? It could inspire some young kids to learn to program FOR REAL, the old-school way. Maybe this inspires some 10-year old to learn Objective C (or whatever language they may choose)? I can imagine that at some point in my life, I was a script kiddie, too. Actually, yeah– I can remember being a PITA using WinNuke and Teardrop attacks when people pissed me off on IRC… setting up eggdrop bots on shells… creating my own botnet… yeah– in retrospect, I was probably just like any other annoying teenager on IRC raising hell… I’m not too proud to admit that! There’s no shame in my past, because it has shaped my present. I might not have a Computer Science degree or be a programmer had I not gone through that phase. Everybody needs inspiration, and if f***ing up an iOS app, causing a few crashes is what it takes– so be it, man… no need to be so critical and look down on all of the world from your throne. Appreciate things a bit more, maybe. It might could do you some good… bring some positivity. Attitude++. Haw, there I go with another one! I’m on the ball tonight! OW! No– I mean I literally was sitting on one of my balls. Have you ever had a sleeping nut?! Mashed potato!

      Lighten up. Smile. Enjoy life. Leave the 10 year-old kids alone for a bit and focus on what *you’re* doing and pay attention to *your* life. That’s the only one you have any real control over…

      • I do respect you and what you have written. And sure, they might learn something real later, I also started with some bad VB Coding and later switched to C and C-like Languages, but I didn’t publish anything until I was coding for 2-3 Years. And with Flex the people will just share everything they create…
        And also you are pretty right about the “developer mentality”, most developers see themselves above others and don’t want their position to be taken… Sad, but it won’t change…

      • disqusted

        Well, thank you for being decent in your reply– the only real
        solace I can think to offer is the obvious: Don’t download the patches, haha…

        The first example that I recall of this appeal to “non-programmer programmers” (yeah…) was Microsoft’s venture to teach kids– and I do mean “kids” to “program”. Same principle, I suppose… to spark an early interest in programming to plant seeds that would hopefully take root and spawn forth from the nutritious soils of the youthful mind– then turn these Micro-sophists into a legion of coding machines. What is the project that I speak of?

        What is Kodu?
        Kodu lets kids create games on the PC and XBox via a simple visual programming language. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming. Anyone can use Kodu to make a game, young children as well as adults with no design or programming skills. We created Kodu with specific malicious intent to ruin Rudolf’s life– to him, this is the embodiment of all that is wicked and unholy… and that gives us a husband’s bulge. A real rager.

        OK, so the last run-on sentence was technically *not* in the description. But there’s nothing technical about Kodu– so such trite semantics are immaterial.

        But back to the intent and execution of their “Kodu” psychosocial experiment: Do you know what the result of their unhallowed effort was? (besides “astounding”)

        It completely f***ing WORKED! Where’s the proof, you ask?!

        Have you SEEN Windows 8 / the “Metro” UI?! CHECKMATE! I cannot (read: will not) use an OS that looks like an 8-bit console rather than a 64-bit operating system. If I wanted to play 80’s arcade games, I’d travel back to the 80’s and go to the damned arcade! Also, it’s totally f***ing hideous. Did I mention that? “Haggard” would be far too complimentary. I just can’t deal, man. Take me back to DOS. No, seriously– please. You can’t defame a command line interface like that. Not without using ANSI escape codes. Haha! I just showed my age right there! Not literally. 32 <- OK, there. Now I really showed my age. I know quite well the "ls" and "dir" days… I have blown many a cartridge in my younger ye– er, I think I've gone too far. I'm pretty sure.

        Yep. You can't talk about blowing things/people on here. I'm pretty sure it's in the conduct guidelines. I'd have no idea, as I steer very clear of such things. Morals, tact, discretion… these are foreign concepts to me, and will remain as such!

      • ReanimationXP

        All I hear is a lot of whining both here and on Twitter about how much support is going to go into this. Seriously?

        First of all it’s a bit pompous you think they’d be modifying /your/ apps, but then you think someone who knows what Flex is, sets up a patch, and then has a problem with it is going to send you an email? When the interface clearly has checkboxes for anything it’s modifying right on the home screen?

        It couldn’t possibly be any more intuitive and will only foster more tweak development. This won’t cause support emails, and if it does, fixing the issue is as simple as asking if they are using Flex, and to uninstall it if so. One more “is it plugged in” question, boo hoo.

      • Guest

        If someone is a Flex-User it means he has no clue about what he actually changes in iOS, so yes, it’s likely he’d bug the developer of a Tweak that he has broken.

      • ReanimationXP

        You know what they say about ASSumptions, don’t you? Your typical user doesn’t install Cydia, Install Flex, and then dick around overriding classes. I’m a developer myself but have not yet branched into full blown iOS / tweak development, and I will be utilizing Flex to better understand tweaks before I build my own. I am the target audience for this app, not the average user.

    • I hate to get involved in this, but the attitude you are taking (and “most developers”, as you say) sounds a lot like the attitude Apple probably has toward you. “We can’t just give the power to people”.

      I’m a web developer by trade. I don’t mind in the least that people can use Firefox/Chrome extensions to modify my sites’ CSS and add some JS to change behaviors.

      • It might disappoint some users, but most Tweak Developers are just like Apple.

      • ReanimationXP

        Apple watches innovation closely even if they don’t condone it and incorporate the best ideas into their work. You sound scared.

  • An app actually worth $4! I cant wait to try it out

    • FlamingOzone

      What? It costs money?!

      • Guest

        Yea, such shit should be free.

      • ReanimationXP

        “Shit”.. right. This is one of the best tweaks to come out in ages, and has truly limitless applications.

      • Guest

        The best Tweak for idiots.

      • ReanimationXP

        By the way this is Rudolf Lichtner, posting as a guest because he’s a butthurt developer. Pussy.

      • Guest

      • ReanimationXP

        “Rudolf Lichtner wrote, in response to ReanimationXP:
        Shut the fuck up, Drew Alden, nobody cares about your shit, you are just a fucking piece of shit.”

        Protip: If you want to sound tough, you should actually show your face and not edit your message. QQ more. I hope people patch the fuck out of your shit and email you just to piss you off.. not that anyone would bother. Keep on hatin bro.

      • Guest

        — solved —

      • ReanimationXP

        lol, cry

      • Reread dude o-o

  • Could this be potentially used as an adblocker in apps if you create that patch? I’d love that.

  • Always facinated by the way jeff talk its like amazing hahaha