If you are an iOS owner frustrated by Apple’s design decisions, Cydia has offered solutions since its release since 2008. The software allows users to install software on jailbroken devices that alter or extend upon existing functionality. If you don’t like a way iOS or an application did something, Cydia offers you the ability to change it. Now, the software – Cydia Substrate, has made its way over to Android.
What Does Cydia Do?
Cydia was developed by Jay Freeman, who is also known as saurik, and millions have since installed his software on iOS. Like Cydia, Cydia Substrate for Android doesn’t do anything special on its own, but it allows developers to modify Android software without needing access to the source code. They can then use Cydia Substrate to distribute these extensions and modifications to users.
Last month, IGN ran a piece highlighting what they consider to be the best apps available from the Cydia store: Dreamboard makes it easy for iOS users to change themes, Stride increases an iPhone’s security by improving upon its lock screen, Intelliscreen X ads widgets and other controls to the iOS lock screen, and CameraTweak gives the iOS camera more options.
Can’t I Already Do This On Android?
Yes, much of this functionality is already available for Android. Users who don’t like the default experience can radically alter their phones simply by switching the stock launcher out for one that is more extensible, such as Nova, Apex, or Action Launcher. The Play Store is filled with camera apps that can replace the camera that comes with most Android phones. Widgets are supported by default, and the vast majority can be installed without having to first root a device. Even the ability to modify apps without flashing new ROMs can be done using the Xposed Framework.
Nevertheless, Cydia Substrate for Android brings with it a welcome community and the potential for even more innovation. It can be downloaded directly from the Play Store, but your device must be rooted before you can take advantage of any of its features. Right now WinterBoard is the only Cydia app available for Android. WinterBoard, which went on to become Dreamboard on iOS, allows Android users to change their themes from the ones shipped on their devices. Themes can change backgrounds, icons, animations, and nearly every aspect of an Android phone’s visual experience.
What’s Cydia Substrate’s advantage?
Android users have long had the ability to customize any part of their experience that they dislike, but doing so generally requires flashing new ROMs to replace those that manufacturers ship. This process requires users to back up their apps and data each time, because flashing wipes a phone clean. The process can be daunting for first-timers, and even regulars can occasionally slip and lose priceless files. Using Cydia Substrate is easier than firing up the ClockworkMod ROM Manager, especially for those who just want to change a few icons or alter a lock screen.
Cydia Substrate allows tinkerers to use their devices as they wish without having to take extensive risks. Once a community develops around the Android version and more software becomes available, users who aren’t that technical but still want to modify their devices will be able to do so with a significantly lower chance of bricking their phones. Cydia already has a sizable collection of software available for iOS, and just porting those apps over would make for a welcome addition to the Android ecosystem.
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