AltStore – IPA Installer for iPhone and iPad

by Jones David

For those of you looking for the ultimate method to play Nintendo console games on your iPhone or iPad, look no further. Thanks to Riley Testut, we now have the AltStore app store, a repository for some of the best emulator apps, and we’re going to tell you all about it.

How Did AltStore Come About?

Riley Testut is one of the most prominent iOS developers and has spent years looking for and exploiting back doors in the iOS devices. One of his specialty areas is emulators, a way of letting iPhones and iPads run games console software. It didn’t take long for him to realize that Apple wasn’t going to allow any console games into the store, but Nintendo was releasing mobile versions of some of their favorite games.

Instead, Riley turned to build the necessary software to let us play those games on the iOS devices, and his first emulator app was the popular GBA4iOS. That did make it to the iOS app store through a loophole, but that was soon closed by Apple and Nintendo. That didn’t put a stop to it, though, and he soon came up with another unofficial emulator called Delta.

Now he has developed AltStore, a repository for distributing his emulation apps in a manner that allows them to be used on iOS forever. Right now, it only has Delta Emulator app in it, with support for SNES, GB, GBA, NES, and Nintendo 64 games,  but he will be adding more shortly.

How Does AltStore Work?

Testut has used a combination of tricks from independent developers, tricks used to test apps before they go to the app store. You need your computer to use AltStore, and you must install a piece of software called AltServer. This uses your Apple ID to get AltStore onto your iOS device, signing it as an official app.

AltStore can allow third-party apps to be installed because it makes the device think that the device user is the app developer, and the app is being tested. Apple allows this via XCode, an Apple tool that lets anyone install and test apps so long as they have a valid Apple ID.

However, like anything, there are some restrictions. Your device and computer must be connected so AltServer can be installed. And, once in every 7-day period, AltStore ahs to be refreshed. However, Testut used iTunes Wi-Fi Sync, so, provided you connect your device once a week to your computer, AltStore will automatically do a background refresh.

AltStore has been released and has shown immediate success. There has been no news from either Apple or Nintendo, and that proves the app cannot be pulled. There is no need to jailbreak to use it, so your warranty is safe, and it doesn’t break into the iOS root, adding another layer of safety from external threats.

So, What is it?

It is a container, a repository if you like, for storing unofficial apps and games. It is simple to use, as simple as using the official app stores, and if Apple were to relax their standards in terms of freedom for the users, it gives us an idea of what the iOS might be like.

It doesn’t matter what Apple may change in the future, but one thing does remain certain – Apple has already shut Riley Testut down in the past, and they could do so again in the future. What we don’t know right now is how they could shut AltStore down, given the methods used in installing it.

Testut says that Apple cannot stop independent developers from signing up and using the Developer Enterprise program for testing their apps; to do so would ensure that schools, organizations, and DIY developers would no longer be able to build apps and software and test them before deployment.

Really, Testut has done nothing more than Apple does, and he thinks that they could interfere in just two ways – shut the entire developer service down or disable Wi-Fi sync. Even if they did the latter, Testut believes that AltStore could survive, so, for now, its just a case of working with what we have and waiting for Riley to add more to it while we keep an eye on what might happen in the future.

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