Cydia arrives on Android ... sort of
When you jailbreak an iPhone or iPad, your first stop is the legendary jailbreak app store, Cydia. It picks up where the walled garden of Apple’s App Store leaves off. But on Android – where Google Play lets you download apps for both unhacked and hacked devices – Cydia makes a lot less sense. But that didn’t stop its developer from releasing, well, a different kind of Cydia for Android.
Cydia developer Jay Freeman (better known as “Saurik”) today released Cydia Substrate for Android. But if you're expecting the familiar jailbreak app store with a brown icon, that’s not exactly what’s happening here. This is more of a toolbox for developers, and is Cydia in branding only.
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Cydia Substrate is the Android equivalent of “Mobile Substrate,” one of the key components in installing jailbroken iOS apps. It lets developers inject code into apps that they didn’t write. Those devs can then offer tweaks to app and system frameworks.
Cydia Substrate does the same thing for rooted Android devices. No custom ROM required. Pretty cool ... but not quite as exciting as “Cydia for Android,” is it?
Cydia vs. Xposed FrameworkIn fact, Cydia Substrate for Android is strikingly similar to an Android tweak called Xposed Framework, which has been around for over a year. It opens the door to tweaks like running tablet apps on a phone, or changing the appearance of apps on a stock ROM.
There are differences between the two, and Saurik helpfully breaks them down in an FAQ on his site. But Cydia Substrate isn’t a radical new app store for rooted phones. Nope, it’s basically a slightly different version of something that Android rooters have had around for quite some time.
So again – in case it hasn't sunk in yet – this is nothing like the iOS version of Cydia. It’s understandable that Freeman would want to grace his Android crossover with the popular Cydia branding. But it could also lead to some confusion.
Winterboard for AndroidRight now, the only Cydia Substrate tweak available is Winterboard. If you’ve ever messed around with a jailbroken iPhone, you might be familiar with it. It’s a theming app, that lets you change the appearance of just about anything on your iPhone. Ditto for the Android version (though it’s obviously in its earliest stages).
You can check out Cydia Substrate at the source link below. Your Android device will need to be rooted – which is never to be taken lightly. And remember that Cydia Substrate is still in its early stages, and could have some bugs.