It’s been a long time since we’ve heard Comex’s name be associated with jailbreaking, but he’s back, and in a fairly large and controversial way. The creator of JailbreakMe is working with the team behind iMods—a Cydia alternative—to develop a Mobile (Cydia) Substrate replacement called Substitute. On the surface, it may not sound like much, but this could have far-reaching consequences on jailbreaking as we currently know it.

The iMods team released a trailer late last year highlighting the UI of their Cydia alternative. Visually, it looks appealing, but like so many of these so-called Cydia alternatives, shipping something that works for a massive number of users is a whole different ballgame.

But having Comex on their side is definitely a step in the right direction. There’s no question that he has the aptitude and ability to pull of a Cydia Substrate replacement given adequate time to work on it.

Cydia Substrate

Why is having a Substrate alternative so important for an alternate Cydia Store? Cydia Substrate is the code injection platform used to hook functionality into existing apps. Jailbreak tweaks use Cydia Substrate to hook into apps to make them do things that they weren’t originally designed to do. Since Cydia Substrate is closed source, an alternative needed to be made for anyone serious about supplanting Cydia. Substrate also provides important safety features like Safe Mode, though Comex’s alternative doesn’t yet include a working safe mode.

Why is he doing it? Comex listed three reasons for his work on Substitute via Substitute’s GitHub page. The first two reasons were more technical, but the third reason contains what I believe is his primary motivation behind this project:

The way I see it, jailbreaking is fundamentally about taking something closed and fixed and opening it up to hacking and modification: perhaps allowing a mess to be made, but quite possibly ending up with something unique and different. This ideal of openness is very similar to that of free software, and I therefore believe that it’s in the spirit of jailbreaking to make as much low-level stuff open as possible, both for inspection and modification by curious users

At the end of the day, Comex isn’t naive about the different layers of complexity that make up this community. He outright acknowledges that his work will inevitably cause some drama.

Me and Saurik

In the past, Saurik himself wrote a lengthy response to iMods’ interest in becoming a Cydia competitor or at the very least, a Cydia alternative. In a piece called Competition vs Community, Saurik spells out his reasoning behind his decision making. He then suggests that competition is the exact opposite of community, and alludes to the idea that he could do something else if a major Cydia competitor began to encroach on his territory.

Personally, I can see it both ways. Yes, jailbreaking has always been about opening up the walled-garden that Apple subjects its software to. Yes, there is a strong sense of community within the jailbreak circles, and people like to help each other, break things, build things, learn, etc. I don’t blame Comex for wanting to get his hands dirty so to speak, but I can see Saurik’s point of view as well.

One point from Saurik’s 5,000+ word essay really struck me, though:

I am not “just a storefront”. However, if you compete with me on the storefront, you not only indirectly affect my interest to keep working in the community, but you directly affect my ability to spend time doing so… Because if you are, you aren’t just picking a fight, you are walking into one you can’t win: where on the one side is losing quickly, and the other side is still losing, it’s just losing a little bit later, after the infrastructure you are relying on crumbles and key parts of the developer and support community (first- and third- party) disappear.

That sounds like mutually assured destruction to me, albeit, it’s not something that will happen immediately. The question is, if Saurik decides that one day enough is enough, who will step up and take his place? Who would be able to fill those shoes? It’s an interesting thought to ponder.

At any rate, Comex’s code isn’t in the alpha stages yet, and it remains to be seen if iMods can pull of something that’s even within the realm of Cydia from a stability, speed, and functionality standpoint. It’ll be a while before everyday users will be able to get their hands on a workable build of iMods with Substitute in tow. If and when that day arrives, we’ll be sure to bring you an overview of it.

What do you think about the prospect of having a true Cydia alternative? Share your thoughts down below.

  • Merman123

    I’m ready for an alternative. Competition will always be good. Anyone trying to convince you otherwise is nuts. Sorry Saurik. I’ve been alive long enough to know better.

    • 9to5Slavery

      Did you read the article

      • Merman123

        Of course I’ve read it. I read it 7 months ago when it was written, and have skimmed through it from time to time when this topic comes up. I strongly stand by my position on it. I’m not saying iMods is better or that it will kill Cydia. Actually, I’m not even saying it will even be remotely successful. All I’m saying is that Saurik’s attitude about the situation, his essay on it, and his cheap blackmail, is of very poor taste. People glorify Saurik and forget that Cydia is ultimately a business. Like every business, you must protect it, but not by threatening to leave if something better comes along to steal the show. You protect your business by bettering it in every way, listening to feedback, and being open about change. I don’t care how many times Saurik says he doesn’t do it for a money or that it is hardly any source of income. That’s BS. No one works for fun. Ask the staff at iDB if they will close their site if we stop visiting it because of another site. Of course not. Cydia is 100% a business, and there is absolutely nothing wrong about it. Everyone has to eat. It’s masking it and trying to brainwash you into a monopoly. That’s what pisses me off.

      • I may be interpreting it wrongly but my intepretation of Sauriks Competions VS Community post is that Saurik seems to think that if we compete instead of working together in the spirit of community and Open Source we’ll instead tear eachother to pieces. People forget Cydia is open source (at least I think it is). Instead of working to destroy Cydia developers should be looking to commit code that improves Cydia…

        If you want a specific feature and are a developer then fork Cydia and impliment the feature and if it’s good it might get pushed to everybody…

      • Merman123

        I really wish that was Saurik’s angle. But it is not, unfortunately. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but this actually resulted in a back and forth “discussion” between Saurik and iMods. In iMods response to Saurik, they propose partnership, and ensured that their vision is not to destroy Cydia, rather for it to be an alternative. To that , Saurik pretty much squashed any possibility of partnership, due to the fact that iMods “are not part of the jailbreak community”. That’s straight from his response. At the end of the day , Saurik can do with Cydia whatever he wishes to, but he can’t expect people to not wonder about with alternatives. Something about a business man coming out saying “don’t try alternatives or I’ll leave” is very off putting to me. Btw, Cydia is not the type of “open source” you are thinking of.

      • Damian

        Despite jailbreak being so open to all us, Saurik seems to be guarded by invisible walls and he does not let anyone touch Cydia. At the same time he does not try to implement new features because it would cost to much time and work.

      • Anyone can touch Cydia. It’s Open Source with the sourcecode freely available at git[.]saurik[.]com

      • Damian

        anyone can make it look like iMods? if so then Saurik should advertise better, and find people to do some volunteer work

      • Pretty much. The changes might not get merged into Cydia but anyone can fork the code and create an application that’s compatible with the Cydia store…

      • Damian

        hell yeah, what are we waiting for….young developers get your keyboards ready….so we wish

      • Daniel

        If that’s the case, then why doesn’t imods and Saurik work on improving the jailbreak experience together and finally bring Cydia out of 2009 and into 2015. And I’m not just talking about changing the background to match I will say or I was seven although some of the recent changes have been very welcomed. I know, I know, much easier said than done but if you combine several people, you will always get farther than just depending on person.

      • Because it’s about the moneys. iMods wants some. It’s not about collaboration they don’t want to improve Cydia. It’s competition. They might speak of merely being an alternative to Cydia but deep down they want to destroy Cydia…

      • 9to5Slavery

        Freeman stated facts from both sides. the pros and cons as well. Isn’t any start up 100% business? Unless you don’t want it to work you can be a follower, but it’s suppose to run. He didn’t even put down the competitor.

      • Christopher Robin Hernandez

        A standing ovation for what you just said. I was thinking the exact same thing.

      • Mike Colacone Saal

        To add to “hardly any source of income”, i’m pretty sure Saurik LLC takes a 30% cut of all paid tweaks in Cydia, just like Apple. Yes there are tons of folks that get cracked tweaks, but a LOT of people still purchase and he’s getting a cut every time.

      • coLin

        and don’t forget about the advertisements on Cydia which bring a lot of revenue for Saurik

      • Daniel

        Damn did you nail it bro! Competition is a good thing not a bad thing. It’s what inspires innovation! Just because me and you feel this way doesn’t mean that everybody has to feel this way but let us have our own opinion too.

    • XZavier

      What about competition over nuclear warheads?

    • Chris Wagers

      I agree! I mean thanks Saurik for doing what you’ve done but I wrote you one if not two emails over the years with no response. I own about 35 paid tweaks if not more. I’m sure there are people that own way more than me and they probably get no response as well. Maybe not all but I know over the years I’ve seen people say that support is lacking. You have time to publish pieces telling everyone if you compete with me I’ll close the doors and no one will be able to jailbreak possibly anymore. But no time to support users…. Smh I hope substitute works great and if Saurik wants to abandon users that’s up to him but let’s hope he waits till financially it’s not possible not just because he’s afraid of competition.

      • smtp25

        Lol 1 or 2 emails and no reply, shock horror!?!?! Ahh how many jb devices are there again, millions . and you didn’t get a personal reply?

      • Chris Wagers

        just because there are millions of jail broken devices doesn’t mean he’s getting millions of email lol how many people buy cars or razors or shoes but over I don’t know email most any of those companies I’ll get a reply. Maybe not tomorrow but within a week or two. I’ve sent apple emails before and they responded back in only a day or two. Next your going to say that’s different they are a big company. Saurik makes money and also I’m sure could either pay or get someone to help with support emails. So yea I still expected an email even if it’s a month or two late.

      • Mogli NV

        I wrote Steve Jobs once and got a personal reply. It’s not out of the question.

      • coLin

        true. I’ve sent him last week an email and he replayed 🙂

      • Mogli NV

        Get in touch with Houdini while you’re at it. Obviously mine was prior to his death.

    • Frank Anthony

      I think we Jailbreakers should look at his situation critically and differently without quick conclusion or passing a straight forward judgment. I have read all Saurik’s comment on reddit and even his long articles/essay concerning this matter. Maybe the way he put it makes everyone conclude or think he’s guarding his business. Yes, I thought of that too but then I say to myself, What if? what if this is something that may cost the community more than just what Saurik is saying(threats/wants bla bla) As an economist, I love competition and no one will tell me otherwise but on the hand this is just not business as usual, It involves lot of technicalities and skills, even devotion. I remember back in the time of Pod2G and other great guys. The jailbreak community was interesting and so exciting for me that I barely do anything without checking my twitter for latest news/twitts on JB, but as of recent everything changed, the new guys came into picture. They were great and hot and quick(This is good, i loved it) but my interest in Jailbreak start to go down(Maybe because of iOS8 features or maybe just no interesting guys I used to know). I barely check iDownloadblog that i used to visit and refresh page every 6minutes for news on JB & Tweaks. I welcome new features, new improvement and new UI on Cydia and even new people are good but NEW stuff can also be really bad. My final opinion and thought is that, this may not be about Saurik, the JB community is going down and more people are loosing interest, If Saurik lose interest and walk away, the new guys (iMods) may do better which is not my worried(I will love it hopefully), but “What if” it flops and Saurik also gone. People be careful, something new can also be a bad thing( I did not see just competition in this case, there’s more). Sometimes having no option or alternative can lead to a better choice/decision. I’m not supporting anyone or party! Just my thought.

  • Sleaka J

    If those are the faces of jailbreaking… I’m glad I don’t.

    • XZavier

      That’s just plain rude…

      • Sleaka J

        Advertising isn’t about how good your product is, it’s about showing off at least half-good looking people in order to get you to watch it.

      • You are making yourself out to look like the sheople that I despise.

        So why get an iPhone when all those Droid commercials are so convincing that their product is better?
        Why are you even on this blog anyway actually?

      • Sleaka J

        I’m bored. Shits and giggles really.

      • So just a troll then? Sounds like a fun life…

      • Sleaka J

        The truth hurts, don’t it?

    • Carlos Gomes

      Their literal faces?

    • Dan

      Who’s putting himself on a pedestal now eh? Hypocrisy at it’s finest.
      Don’t forget your oxygen, I’ve heard that the air is thin up there.

      • Sleaka J

        “Who’s putting himself on a pedestal now eh” implies that you were “before”. Thanks for admitting that, but you said you weren’t going to reply to me. More lies coming from you I see.

      • Kurt

        You’re idiotic comment makes no sense. Also the one about the picture makes you look arrogant. I bet you’re ugly and trying to put them down to make yourself feel better.

      • Sleaka J

        Oh no. You’ve got me. You’re completely right. I feel bad now… No wait… I don’t.

    • AnArcticMonkey

      Mate if you think jailbreaking changes your appearance I have some news for you. Going to the gym, taking care of yourself, and dressing well does, downloading something on your phone does not.

      And I’m not jailbroken, I just found your comment hilarious lol

      • Sleaka J

        If jailbreaking changed your appearance…

        Don’t give me nightmares. If they started off like that, how bad could it get?

  • Martin

    ohboyohboyohboyohboy COMPETITION

  • Bugs Bunnay

    Still ain’t gonna cut it.

  • AngryDingo

    This is not good. Freeman has shown dedication to cydia. Anyone with the technical knowledge can build a Cydia alternative but will they stay with it?

    • XZavier

      At least give them a chance…

  • Will Mason Moses

    If it’s faster than Cydia when it comes to reloading sources and comes with a search that actually is worth a damn, then Ill go for it

  • 9to5Slavery

    We need to bring back ROCK!

    • XZavier


      • Rock was a Cydia alternative that was back in the days of iOS 3 & 4. Maybe even before or after that, but that is when I first got into jailbreaking.
        It eventually was absorbed by Cydia and was for the best. Competition is great sometimes but when it is something like this, I think competition is bad.
        This is also coming from someone that doesn’t have a very high opinion of Saurik at all. I think the guy is a tool and his 5000+ word essay is proof. He is like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, thinks he is smarted and better than everyone else around him. Not really a guy I would ever want to associate myself with but I do use his product and it has been proven to work for the masses.

      • 9to5Slavery

        a place far long ago, there was Cydia, then Rock appeared. If you wanted to Rock your phone you use Rock. Then Cydia bought them out. Rock had the best GUI alternative since then.

  • iNeedANameHere

    Unless iMods transfers my Cydia purchases over, like when Rock got shut down by Cydia, I’m going to be staying put with Cydia.

  • Kurt

    The notion of Freeman giving up on cydia to do something else if there was competition is nonsense. He likes his monopoly and wants to keep it that way. I don’t mind it either as he isn’t abusing his “power”. But if there was competition you know we would have a ratings system in for tweaks/apps and a comment section too. He has way to much to lose to just walk away. In other words he’s full of poop. He’s a good guy and I understand him and his fear mongering. But don’t be naive and believe it.

  • M L

    Wow, Saurik’s response sounded like a blatant threat and is not in what I know the ‘spirit’ of opensource to be. He sounds like a pouty child that basically says, stay out of my sandbox or I will just take every toy and leave. Then fill the box with cement so nobody can play, unless of course you would like to keep paying me to use my sandbox.
    Which to me means, I want all the money, step on that and I pull the whole thing for 100,000’s of jailbreakers. Then you will have to deal with them.
    Great Don Corleone move.

    • I could be wrong, but didn’t he make similar threats when devs that weren’t his buddies started releasing jailbreaks? I am thinking of evasion but I could be wrong about that.

      • M L

        I wasn’t around then, I don’t think. I got involved when the jailbreak mentioned in the article, JailbreakMe, came out.

  • Zzyzxd

    It looks nice but I don’t think I will need it. Cydia is nothing but a browser and I check updates and new tweaks twice a week at most.

    • smtp25

      Over simplify much?? Its a browser, search ,installer,updater, marketplace(centralized). Plus thr fundamenals like substrate and other core comps all very mature releases not pre alphas

  • Chang in Charge

    Until this thing comes out I don’t care who is developing it, they been talking about this for a minute and we haven’t seen anything except for a teaser so I’m assuming this will be dead before you know it. But good luck to them because competition is great. Communities can still thrive with competition despite Saurik’s essay saying they are the opposite of each other. The opposite of a competitive market is a monopolistic one.

  • Dan

    Only time will tell, at least a bit of friendly competition will get the ball rolling.

  • Damian

    Saurik should let people start developing Cydia. If he can’t commit full time doing it, then he could probably find bunch of young developers who would love to volunteer and work on the project of improving Cydia. We can see that there are plenty of developers making tweaks for free, they could as well start working together with Saurik. Only if saurik lets anyone into Cydia realms

  • MrE23

    Anyone notice BiteSMS in the video, which has been conspicuously absent from iOS 8?

  • Mark Kramer

    We don’t need an alternative. We need Americans who can figure out how to write a jailbreak and work together doing it. Too much ME ME ME with the American coders. We don’t need a split in resources, we need community. I think comex, et al should worry about writing jailbreak programs. We already have a jailbreak store infrastructure.

  • Mike Colacone Saal

    They would HAVE to have modmyi and bigboss as repos and my purchases from those repos in cydia would have to be honored. But even that wouldnt make me switch. i dont mind cydia, what would make me switch would be ratings for apps / tweaks with comments from users. “x tweak conflicts with y tweak” etc.

  • QuarterSwede

    Everyone is replaceable.

  • Benjamin J Schwartz

    When Saurik purchased and shuttered Rock, he claimed that the backup features available in Rock (which were awesome!) would be implemented. It’s been many years and since then Cydia has added virtually no new user-facing updates. I, for one, think a quality competitor is exactly what this scene needs.

  • xmassacrex

    Cydia. the easiest, safest, best way to manage anything ‘Jailbreak’

  • Joey_Z

    Let’s face it, Saurik has just enough time to update his core tweaks to keep up with major ios updates, let alone bringing in new features. Sorry I can’t agree with him about competition because competition has always been good for the end users, especially it’s now a established market that can actually make money. If Comex doesn’t do it, some teams in China will.

  • 空白

    So is Saurik saying that he has to be the only source and if anyone tries to compete he’ll quit? Kinda cry baby. Right now Cydia is broken for me and his ‘FAQ’ is about as helpful to fix it as this sentence is. Not trying to be a jerk but his statement runs by me as pretty elitist and douchy.

  • FrankensteinBlack

    One word; R-O-C-K!

  • Dante Arellano

    apple needs cydia in like app stock that will be the last shot than will kill androide for forever

  • Saurik has always been a cry baby and will remain a cry baby. I agree with the coments stating that Cydia is a business. Hell yes its a business why do you think Saurik remains working. I also agree with others that Saurik needs to stop the “will work for food” attitude. He has gotten RICH FROM CYDIA.
    On a different note, can someone tell me if I am wrong. I thought Apple hired Comex several months ago?

    Saurik, Man up an start taking better care of your business. Such as keeping it updated. We are sick of looking at that UI. You can do better. I Hope. LOL If you need diapers let us know.

  • Meerkat Mick

    Cydia is Saurik’s baby and just like an over protective mother, he is protecting his child.