One of the big concerns about iOS 9 is that Apple is rumored to have made jailbreaking a lot more difficult with its upcoming OS update. While the verdict is still out on “Rootless” and what impact it may or may not have on jailbreaking in general, it’s time to start thinking outside of the box.
Two developers have done just that. Majd Alfhaily and Kevin Ko, better known around jailbreak circles as @freemanrepo and @uhelios, have created something pretty special. It’s called Extensify, and it’s a tweak store that allows you to modify and add new features to App Store apps without needing to jailbreak.
When Alfhaily first approached me with word of this, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical. Tweaks without a jailbreak? Huh? But then I actually tried Extensify and saw that it was legit.
Read my hands-on walkthrough of the exciting new app, and be sure to watch our video breakdown inside as well.
What it’s not
To be clear, Extensify isn’t a replacement for Cydia, and it won’t supplant jailbreaking. It will, however, complement jailbreaking, especially during those lull periods when we’re without a jailbreak. Coincidence, Apple just killed the latest jailbreak today with iOS 8.4.1’s release.
Speaking of iOS 9, I tested out Extensify on my iPhone 6 Plus running the iOS 9 beta. Using a few of the available tweaks—called Exos in Extensify language—I was able to do things like add saving ability to Vine and Instagram, and add new features to the stock Twitter app.
How it works
So how does all of this work? Well, I was asked not to go too deep into the logistics behind Extensify right now. To be clear, though, everything takes place directly on device, no computer required.
It basically works like this:
- Download the Extensify app
- Search for your favorite Exos (tweaks) on the store and queue up the ones you wish to install
- Perform a build and install
Once you build your app, a new version of the application will be downloaded from the iTunes store with the appropriate tweaks applied to it.
Just like Cydia and the App Store, users are provided with a description of the tweak, including details about what it does, a change log, screenshots, number of downloads, version number, size, etc. Users will even be able to leave comments on the various tweaks in order to facilitate a dialogue regarding its quality or lack thereof.
Apps that have been modified with Exos contain a ‘+’ sign after them for easy identification. So, for instance, if I modify Twitter with the Twitter Plus Exo, a new version of Twitter will be deployed to my SpringBoard called Twitter+. It’s totally possible to have two of the same apps installed at once—one stock and one ‘+’ version. Of course, you aren’t forced to keep the stock app, but it is a nice side benefit to be able to run two versions of the same app.
The benefits of having an app like Extensify are multi-faceted, but the biggest and most obvious benefit is that it does not require a jailbroken device. You can basically have Cydia Substrate-esque tweaks for App Store apps without needing a jailbreak.
Extensify has limitations that Cydia tweaks don’t have. For one, you can only modify App Store apps with Extensify. You can’t mess around with the SpringBoard or the general iOS interface. It also doesn’t work with stock apps. Third party apps and apps that you can download for the App Store are all fair game.
With that said, Extensify is not a jailbreak replacement or a Cydia replacement for that matter. Both are meant to coexist. Obviously, Extensify will be most beneficial when there is no jailbreak available, but both can work in harmony together.
One of the best things about Extensify is its user interface; it’s simply superb. Seriously, you can tell that a whole bunch of work went into perfecting the UI. Everything from the app icon to the various tabs, install pages, tweak details, and installation animations are top notch.
The main Extensify tab lists all of the top Exos currently available, ranked by popularity. There’s even a swipable header image that showcases popular Exos, similar to how the App Store highlights important apps of the moment.
The Catalog tabs lists all of the available Exos by app, which makes it easy to find all of tweaks associated with a particular application. Along with that, you can use the search option to search for a specific tweak by name.
The My Exos tab lists all of the installed or downloaded Exos on your device. From there, you can see which apps are affected by the tweaks, and delete or install selected tweaks.
Lastly, there’s the Profile tab, which allows you to login, logout, and manage preferences. Preferences include the ability to enable auto login and auto install.
Extensify will allow users on non-jailbroken devices to apply tweaks to their favorite apps. That in and of itself makes the app highly desirable. Developers will be able to easily port their existing Cydia Substrate tweaks over to Extensify, but remember, this only applies to tweaks that modify App Store apps.
You can look forward to trying Extensify right around the time that iOS 9 launches, which will likely be around mid September. Since it’s highly likely that no jailbreak will be available for iOS 9 at launch, Extensify will be a great way to tweak your favorite apps on stock iOS 9 firmware.
We’ll have more details over the next month as Extensify gets closer to launch. In the meantime, be sure to check out our video above, follow the Extensify team on Twitter, and check out the official Extensify website.
What do you think about Extensify? Are you excited? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts.