Saurik Interview

Cydia, despite being the go-to app and tweak store for several years in the jailbreaking community, has a number of shortcomings. It’s slow to load and daftly unorganized, among other things.

And most people tend to blame Saurik for all of these issues. After all, he is the creator and ‘grandmaster’ of Cydia, right? Not so much, according to his latest comments in a Reddit thread…

It all started with a Request post by Reddit user NaitsirkC in the jailbreak subreddit, essentially asking Saurik to implement a ‘sort by popularity’ feature in Cydia to make top tweaks easier to find.

Now, Saurik makes a number of comments in the thread that are worth reading, as they provide a behind-the-scenes look at Cydia. But perhaps his best one is in response to a complaint about the ads.

“Yeah, you know? You have a point: if I was in charge of all the content in Cydia, I’d also make a ton of changes: for starters, I’d remove all the ads… the ads really suck, they are horribly confusing for users, and they sometimes even attempt to hijack the user from their tasks installing packages. Then, I’d go through all of the incorrect spacing and inconsistent messaging that you see on all of the packages, and I’d fix that as well: I cannot describe to you just how angry I am every time I see a repository screw up the 9px margin between boxes on their package depictions.”

The truth is, Saurik doesn’t have control over any of that content. “Cydia is a glorified web browser,” he explains. “And I don’t have any more control over the repos than FireFox has over Reddit content.”

So why doesn’t he just take control? Why doesn’t he create a ‘main’ repo for jailbreak developers to centralize Cydia and make the content more manageable? Because, he says, that would defeat its purpose.

“I really mean it when I say this: the reason Cydia is interesting and the reason jailbreaking has been successful is specifically because we decentralize so much of it. I have been very adamant since the beginning that I didn’t want to see myself become an arbiter of content, and I actually do sometimes intervene to “maintain the balance of power” between repositories in the hope of guaranteeing a good mix. “

Again, all of Saurik’s comments in the thread are worth reading. They will give you some insight into how Cydia is run, and open your eyes to some things about the store that you might not have known before.

Thoughts?

  • First comment!! Get ’em Saurik! I do agree that it would be nice for there to be more organization, but why don’t the repo leaders take charge of this known issue together. Take some time and organize each of your individual repos in an update to help the jailbreak community find all of the hidden gems amongst the always updating change log. We would all greatly appreciate it. I can’t tell you how many times after a new jailbreak I’m trying to think of all the free tweaks I have that weren’t recorded.

    • EpicFacepalm

      I always wondered what’s so special about first comment.

      • i have this question too

  • Jonathan

    I completely get he has no control over the repos, and the decentralised nature is a good thing that shouldn’t be changed. But that doesn’t stop improvements being made to the actual app. Eg:

    1) Save the Queue so it doesn’t vanish when you close and reopen Cydia.

    2) Get rid of the those blocking refresh and loading HUDs.

    3) Add the ability to save lists of installed tweaks/apps/themes/etc, so you dont have to write down/remember tweaks when you upgrade or reinstall or whatever.

    4) Make the on off switches in the Sections tab affect the search results, I hate having to scroll through hundred of themes when I really don’t like theming my phone.

    5) Find a way to allow multitasking, it’s very annoying that Cydia has to reload the UI and everything if you quickly switch apps. (I believe this is to do with bad things happening if you do things while Cydia has access to a database (in your device) in the background, but the UI should be separate to this so at the least it shouldn’t have to reload the UI)

    Don’t get me wrong, Cydia has been amazing for the jailbreak community and you could say without it and Saurik there wouldn’t really be one. But that’s not really a reason not to make changes to the app itself.

    • Upgrayedd

      I agree there are some things he could improve on with cydia itself.

    • Number 4 on your list is already in Cydia. Go to Sections tab and top right there is a button that says “edit”. Simply turn off the shit (I hate themeing as well) and refresh cydia. Your change list will only contain the things you want to see. 🙂

      • Jonathan

        no disrespect but I said “Make the on off switches in the Sections tab affect the search results”, so I know about the on off switches in the Sections tab, and I’m stating they should affect the search results, which is not the changes tab.

    • 1) I agree, and have stated this in public on various occasions. 2) The blocking HUDs hardly ever happen (note that the “refreshing” step, which is unavoidable, is non-blocking). 3) I sort of agree, but the problem is that this is semantically impossible and just leads to all kinds of problems… it simply isn’t the case that when you upgrade your device you can or should try to install all the things that the device previously had installed. 4) This is how Cydia used to work, and due to overwhelming user complaints this was changed to how it now works. Yes, there are still complaints, but there are massively (massively…) fewer complaints about the current behavior, which makes sense: if the user actively is searching for something, they should be able to find it. 5) I agree, and have even stated this inside of the Info.plist file that is shipped with Cydia that people tend to modify to add a kind of hacked-up multitasking.

      So, from that list, I agree with two of your points, and they are things that Cydia will get to, and I’ll probably get to #1 in the not-distant future. However, these things also have to be compared against the other the other things that people want: I honestly do spend most of my time working on things related to Cydia, you simply don’t see many of the changes directly, as they almost entirely are changes to the backend rather than changes to some color. I could then ask, for example: “please list the things that improved in Cydia in the last month”, and I somewhat imagine you will respond “nothing, obviously: saurik sucks, and doesn’t do anything”, when in fact that is not at all true. As a specific recent example, this week I’ve been fixing some bugs in the device linking and payment detection systems: you wouldn’t notice this work unless it affected you.

      Of course, there are also a ton of other things I’m responsible for, including WinterBoard and Substrate, things that have required a lot of time recently, including finding the vnode leak that people were recently running into with WinterBoard (which was a weird latent interaction exposed by the new version of Substrate) as well as adding new iOS 6 support to Substrate (the new 400x series) for things like private symbol lookup (something that made a lot of existing extensions “just work again”), which then required a bunch of followup when it was determined that that feature interacted fatally with specific hacks people were using to bring up Siri on older devices that Apple doesn’t normally support that feature on.

      I thereby must take issue with your comment, as it seems to imply that I’m saying “no improvements should be made to Cydia”… that is obviously false at the face of it, and doesn’t agree with any of the public statements I make or the work that I put into the platform. Some of your specific improvements I may disagree with (or even can say “been there, done that, was forced to do something different”), but I even agree with two of your points. You thesis, therefore, is frankly somewhat insulting. 🙁

      • Jonathan

        Sorry i didn’t not mean to come across as meaning “you suck”. It is a little annoying to be shouted down by some people (not you) say, “no don’t say anything about Cydia, it’s perfect as it is”, hence my tone was more aggressive than I intended. Thank you for taking the time to reply, especially about the points. I’m truly sorry you are insulted by what I wrote. I really did not mean to be, but in hindsight I see that it is, and I’m quite gutted that’s the case because I hold you and your work very highly.

      • Sentry

        Excellent read and insight.

      • MHC

        Aint Nobody got time to read that..

    • BrawlBro1

      4) It would be simpler if you could select what you’re going to search. Have an option by the search section to disable and enable searching themes, addons, widgets, utilities, etc. If you want to search all packages then select “all” and if you want to search everything except for themes then disable themes. Pretty simple if you think about it.

      • Kurt

        I agree, it’s a very good idea. But unfortunately will never happen.

  • It could be a little more strict in my opinion. Have a bit more moderation. Have a bit more of a standard look to it.
    Have tweak descriptions a little more informative.
    example: ScreenFlowpages (idk if its a real name or not but it sounds good)
    description: for a flow effect.

    What does it make flow? what does it affect? is it for homescreen or lockscreen?

    I hate saying this but Cydia needs to have a guideline for what can be posted. Dare I say it, more of an appstore feel.

    I don’t install any apps unless i understand what the tweak does. I wouldn’t even know what some of the tweaks I use do until I’ve seen youtube video descriptions of them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Cydia and all it offers. I just believe it can offer so much more.

    • saurik’s comments explain that Cydia is successful because he is not the arbiter of content. It’s mostly up to the repositories to decide on posting and description standards – so if you want better tweak descriptions, you should tell developers and repository maintainers.

  • What can you say, Saurik created Cydia not the repos..the repos need to sort there house out and get there shit together, if us the end user keep asking for a top 10 tweak list that gets updated then the repos might just listen and get together and sort this out.. As for the ads they pay to keep the repos going.. Don’t they ?

    • Just thought of this ..the repos could host a repo that has the top 10 tweaks, apps and themes..
      They should work together to get this done ..

      • Wouldn’t really work. Cydia just gets confused when there’s multiple packages of the same version available in multiple repos. Sometimes it’ll only show the package in Repo A. other times Repo B, so sometimes you won’t be able to tell which packages are in the featured repo. (There are hacky workarounds, though of course they just cause trouble.)

        This isn’t to say that your idea is stupid though; I do honestly believe such a thing should exist. There are blogs that do this, but of course it isn’t really useful to people who are unaware of the blog. It would most likely have to be a list on the Cydia home page, modified by SaurikIT each week.

      • Kurt

        We should start with a start rating system. Something people have been requesting him for a longgggggggggg time.

      • That was actually trialled a few times and later removed completely due to issues (stuff like good tweaks getting bad ratings due to issues caused by other tweaks only on a few peoples’ devices, I believe)

      • Kurt

        Seriously?

      • It would work.. The repo that has the tweak takes it off there repo and puts it in to the top ten repo.. When it comes out if the top 10 it then goes back on to the repo it was on..

      • That would fall under the hack category. What if I want a tweak moved to the other repo and are unaware that the repo exists? I’ll look around Cydia for the package, fail to find it and give up.

      • No .. It can be a repo that gets installed from the start. The repos get to put the top tweaks apps on it.. You don’t install it .. As for the Hack repo messge your talking about that’s down to saurik and what what Cydia sees as a dodge repo.. I know of a repo that doesn’t bring up this massage and it’s got all sorts on it.. I use it to get Siri and the clock, weather app on a iPad 1 on iOS 5.1.1..

  • Jonathan

    When you don’t want a centralised system, what you do is get the relevant people to join together and create a central and public protocol. I don’t know how the repos work, but they must all use a common protocol, I mean Cydia doesn’t have different code for different repos. So that protocol should be expanded to include fields (for lack of a better word) for things like iOS versions, and device compatibility. And then these must be displayed natively in Cydia and not in the description hosted by the repo.

  • Cydia needs a major update. First off, it needs to be more like the App Store.

    – I would remove changes and replace it with “Updates” where the user can update their tweaks. All new packages could be in a separate category.

    – And also the tweak CyDelete needs to be implemented into Cydia. Being able to uninstall tweaks without going into Cydia all the time is necessary.

    – They need to also remove repos. Why can’t they just make like one main repo and no other. This way it can possibly slow down the piracy rate. Right now, the only response Cydia had to piracy was by creating a little pointless alert when the user wants to add a repo. They need to try harder than that.

    -No more huds. Background updates. Why cant Cydia update like the App Store. Instantly appearing. No apt-get every Cydia boot. Thats lame.

    -No more queue. Just like the App Store. Just search and click install; little progress bar appears on the icon while its installing. Then you could just click back and install another tweak. No more apt-get just install. Then when the user returns to home screen, the app auto resprings.

    Don’t get me wrong. Cydia is awesome but it’s time for something new.

    • 1) It is not clear that this is actually better. As it stands, there is a single place that people who want to see “what’s up” need to go to in Cydia to accomplish that goal. This also means there is one fewer button in Cydia, when there are already too many buttons (and I have plans for how I’d get rid of more buttons, not add…). If you have some kind of evidence for why splitting these is better, that would be interesting, but as it stands almost no one complains about this.

      2) The concept of CyDelete doesn’t make sense when you are adding features to other applications. Take Five Icon Dock… where does the (x) go? In actuality, very few of the packages you see in Cydia actually have icons. It is thereby not just “low priority” but somewhat “actively confusing” to encourage users to think that there would be an icon they can (x) to remove the functionality they installed, as it wouldn’t apply to most packages. Even the developer of CyDelete seems to have moved on from the idea.

      3) This is just arguing that Cydia should be centralized, like the App Store. The reason we jailbreak our devices in the first place is because we didn’t like them being centralized by Apple: the goal should not be to just install an alternative dictator. If the device were centralized and controlled by the jailbreak, the response from people like myself would be “damn, I guess now we need to build a jailbreak to jailbreak the jailbreak”, leading to utter insanity.

      4) Well, for starters, the App Store doesn’t update at all: it is a centralized “online” system. Cydia is a decentralized “offline” system. Cydia needs to have, locally on the phone, a database of all of the information from all of the repositories it is using, that will be used when it is displaying and searching for packages. Honestly, I prefer the App Store way of building systems: they are easier to build, and often easier to understand. However, that’s not our community.

      Once you accept that Cydia has the constraint that it needs to be decentralized, and that it needs to be able to handle even small repositories with low latency, you are forced to build the system offline (which, btw, is exactly how APT works, the technology Cydia is built on that all of the major ecosystem developers generally like). At this point, you have to do updates, and you only have two legitimate choices: you can update a couple times a day as a daemon, or when it starts.

      The former option sounds great, until you realize that people read about things on Twitter, open Cydia, and expect them to be there. The mechanisms regarding updates in Cydia, thereby, have slowly evolved as they have to specifically deal with this incredibly common use case in a way that doesn’t involve trying to educate users that they need to manually do these Refresh steps in order to see new content (which is frankly fighting an uphill battle). These refresh cycles are non-blocking, so it isn’t a big deal.

      5) So, to discuss this, we have to put it in the context of what Cydia’s feature is: it is called a “queue”, but it is more of “what the device will look like when you are done installing these packages”. This is critical to realize, because unlike with the App Store, packages not only can but often and even usually do… when you install WinterBoard, it causes a number of other packages and libraries from other developers to be installed: libhide, pincrush, mobilesubstrate, and preferenceloader.

      You can thereby end up in situations where, as you select packages, you end up in “world states” that no longer make sense, or where you find out that the ramifications of installing something are “too large”. You thereby may need to go around and change the selections you’ve made to see different outcomes, or to fix conflicts or broken dependencies that have come up while you made your initial decisions. This is what the “queue” represents, and it is due to this dependency feature.

      Now, I say all of this, and I fully expect (based on the responses I always seem to get from these kinds of replies) I’m now going to get blasted (maybe not by the person I’ve responded to, but by someone else, maybe not even today but in some new comment or article tomorrow ;P) for “well, Cydia still sucks, and there are things you should do, and all of your excuses are just that: lame excuses”. I will thereby preemptively state to anyone wishing to make such a reply that there are many things I /do/ say should be done to Cydia (and even things that over the years have gotten done, although a vast majority of which are in things people don’t give me much credit for).

      That does not, however, mean that any specific set of complaints is something Cydia should do: just because some people get together to say “Cydia should do X” doesn’t by itself indicate that those exact changes would be positive. I thereby find myself having to disproportionately respond to things that people insist should be done that are either 1) known to be bad due to Cydia having “been there, done that, moved on”, 2) against the grain of the concept of jailbreaking, or 3) impossible given the constraints (whether technical, financial, legal, or political). I realize that this means that I come off as making “lame excuses”, but I always provide the rational and arguments, not just make assertions.

      • At least… I generally Like cydia… a lot… Don’t have to go to the forums to download a specific file, unload it to my device and the use the explorer and install it… or use something like CWM and flash it… its much simpler cleaner and everything is in One place….

      • Vic

        About 3): we jailbreak because we “think different” – just like Apple used to back in the days. No offence, no judgment, just feeling good about hacking, that is: look inside, tweak, play.
        (And it’s funny how whatever the discussion is about people comment saying “But please add an App Store” … Looks like 1984 happened after all. 🙂

      • Scott Graham

        Good perspective: I’m of the same mind – that hacking should be exploratory and fun, and especially not so “point-and-click” as so much else in this iAge.

        When tweaks crash your system, causing a deeper examination of what’s under the hood, we, as users, earn a deeper appreciation of the complexities we’re messing with.

        And in a world of immediacy and convenience, jailbreakers should value the educational merits of hacking our way through the jungle of gems that is Cydia.

      • EpicFacepalm

        Off-topic, and gotta say what you have done is just beyond the great APT client/browser Cydia. It’s much more greater than this (especially for MobileSubstrate and porting GNU libraries). So thank you very much 🙂

        Can I ask why still we need buggy libhide? iOS natively supports hiding of apps with simple Info.plist trick. Why don’t we do that? Libhide often fails and puts hidden System-Maintenance apps (known as White Icons) to the SpringBoard.

  • What happend to Lima ? The browserbased Jailbreak Store were they finally been able to release a public version ?

    • BrawlBro1

      It dead… like the other 8 Cydia alternatives.

      • Naw just checked its not dead they’re actually about to release a major update haha

  • wow i didnt realise how ungrateful everyone is towards saurik, at the end of the day its something we take for granted us “jailbreakers” yeh so what when you first load it up it loads all packages plus other minor issues. get the fuck over it its not a big deal. i bet hardly any of you donate to the guys which put their blood n sweat into making our ios experience enjoyable. negativity is for bigots

    • Kurt

      He makes a lot of money off us. Why are they not allowed to push him to implement features? Frankly, I don’t believe him when he says how much he does. He should show a list of what gets updated with-in cydia. This is a very normal task done elsewhere.

      • Why don’t you ask him for one instead of wasting your time with a rant that’s clearly asking to
        be flamed?

        Edit: he doesn’t make very much from Cydia either. Do some googling and you’ll realize this.

  • a couple months back we didnt even think we was goin to receive a jailbreak and now everyones piping up about how poorly organised cydia is, people ay we are a funny bunch!

  • bloodshed

    i dunno how this even has got all this heat..just cut the slack people, and be grateful of what you have!..these minor issues of yours will never end, and everyone wants a feature for his own!..how funny!

  • Control, control, control…. It sounds like Apple

  • In hopes i get Saurik’s attention:

    Cydia needs a new interface, i have heard for almost two years (i believe) that it has been ‘in the works’. Understanding that there are repos to work with, But the main repos rely on Cydia, not the other way around. And if they are pushed they will do what you ask to change and better for the ‘next Cydia’

    I believe Cydia needs to become ‘easier’ for NEW users. We complain at apple that things dont change, so we ‘tweak’ them. Well the overall Cydia interface has not really changed either, and it needs to.

    With the correct motivation all repos will follow. While you have little control, you supply them, you control what repos are ‘pre-installed’ You can make the much needed change happen. And at this point, its whats needed.

    Help make the ‘Cydia experience’ BETTER for everyone who wants to make the device they own BETTER!

    • I had absolutely no idea how to use Cydia when I first opened it 3 years ago

      The current design does its job, but it’s incredibly frustrating from a productive and aesthetic standpoint. It can be vastly improved on. If you set the guidelines, the repos and developers will follow.

      But firstly, get rid of the godawful pinstripe background in the homepage. What other app that you see has this?? I am hoping in iOS 7, Jony Ive will put an end to the pinstripes anyway.

      • Kurt

        Enough with the light gray tones to everything. Go darker, or add color. The pin stripes were nice in 2007. That was a long time ago.

    • Osorio11

      Reading several comments asking for another, improved interface for Cydia I can’t help but wondering: there must be one available already:I am not new to the scene and before Saurik bought them out we had a very nicely interfaced alternative called Rock That interface could in my opinion be used as a starting point to make a brand new Cydia experience, as I always found it much easier to use than Cydia as it is now.
      I would understand if it is not possible because I can imagine that the way another Cydia-like installer, actually called Installer worked very differently, that too was more user friendly than Cydia is.I think the whole UI is on sale because Ripdev has shut Installer down years ago.
      These are my thoughts with no disrespect intended whatsoever towards Cydia as it is today. It must be hard enough to keep it up and running with improvements which you may not see at first glance but are definately there:)..

  • Cydia needs a redesign

  • We need a Cydia 2.0 with a refreshing and intuitive interface

  • Sentry

    Cydia needs a UI makeover, even if it isn’t a priority at the moment.

    • Why don’t you work with Saurik on this one? Your interfaces and tweak implementations of concepts are great! On that note, are you coming along with the quick reply iOS 7 concept as a tweak? I saw something on twitter and absolutely loved it, will that also work for Whatsapp and Tweetbot?

  • czbird

    Add searching within the whole name, not just its beginning. It’s so frustrating…

    Add keywords (maintained list) and searching by their combinations – e.g. search all “wi-fi” & “lock screen” tweaks.

    Add better handling of situations when some repos are down.

    • In Cydia, If you tap the Search icon in the toolbar, then start typing the letters of the word you are looking for, it will “live search” (ie: filter) based on the beginning of the available package’s names.

      However, if you tap the Search button on the bottom right of the keyboard at this point, it will perform a search within the whole name.

      Hopefully that helps. Your other suggestions are good as well.

      • czbird

        Wow. Thanks.
        Just wondering how come I did not find this myself over all the years… 🙂

  • i6ix

    Just wanted to say first, thank goodness for Saurik and the Cydia store, and Envasi0n for making it all possible again.

    Now, as for the Cydia store, I too would love to see it cleaned up a little, and have it run in the background/multitask a little better.

    however, I read the responses here and understand why things are the way they are.

    It has come a long way from the first time I jailbroke my original iphone (good old rusty edge).

    Keep up the great work! And thanks,

    -i6ix

  • I just don’t like the whole it can’t be done attitude of Saurik.
    Honestly it all comes down to money because they get paid threw advertisements
    and hosting repos that use the cydia payment method. It really seems as if what Saurik is trying to prevent is pissing off the repo community. If you take away the advertisements there would be a smaller revenue stream. Considering the cost to host the new cydia store would off balance things. I would even consider changing the name to something like Open Store. In the end something needs to be done because it’s time. I hope someone out there decides to invest. Can we possibiliy
    make this a KickStarter Project?

  • Tikimaker

    Personally I’m just happy to have Cydia. Once my i5 finally got taken out of the box and had that beautiful icon on it “Cydia” life felt complete again. Any updates to Cydia are always nice but aside from that I don’t have any justifiable complaints after all it is free to install and there are plenty of free tweaks. I don’t understand how people can complain about something they didn’t pay for, these are the same people who win a prize but complain there free gift sucks.

    As it was mentioned by Saurik that it was out of his hands is the tweaks you tap on then you become directed to some sales link now that I can’t stand. Redmond pie started doing that where if you are trying to browse there pages and in the corner there is a book page flip that directs you to some sales link. Well I stopped going to Redmond pie and iDownloadblog has become my new home. I understand banners are necessary to generate revenue but I don’t care to have it forced on me in the form of a soft core pop up.