• RockApp Launches 2.0

    We wrote about Rock Your Phone back in March when they launched, as an alternative/jailbroken AppStore. Yesterday they launched 2.0, and it comes packed with a host of new features and improvements. They're positioning themselves as a complete jailbroken package management solution, from paid to free packages. They actually list all packages from all default Cydia sources now (with depiction pages intact, which is something Icy never did which ticked off Cydia repo maintainers like us and BigBoss).

    Opening up the main screen of RockApp shows (among other things) a "Rock compared to Cydia/Icy" screen, which lists some of its big differences with the two other players in the jailbreak package management arena. Speed-wise, RockApp has done some interesting things to increase performance. One such item you'll see is their Rock Central tech.

    Rock Central basically means the Rock servers watch the default repositories Packages files (those repos being ModMyi, BigBoss, Saurik, Ste, ZodTTD, and iSpazio), and keep a current combined list at all times. Then, when you open RockApp to check for updates, instead of querying each repo's Packages file for updates, Rock Central is checked to see what updates are new since the last time you updated, and only those changes are downloaded to your device. This results in faster load times for updates. You can of course add custom repo’s which are not listed by default. Initially the RockApp will query that repo directly but if enough users add it to their list it will be added to Rock Central to improve performance.

    They put together a comparison of performance for some of the major functions. Their numbers seem a tad off, I will admit - "Updates Loading" for Icy shows at 5.7 seconds, but it takes me over a minute. It's also important to point out Cydia is searching names, descriptions, and ID's (as does RockApp)- Icy only searches names.

    One thing I like (now don’t get me wrong I love my themes) is the ability to customize the view a bit. One of the most common places to go in Cydia is the What’s New tab to see what new apps and updates have been released. The problem is there are so many themes the apps get lost in the list. In settings for RockApp you have 3 options, show Apps Only, All Packages or add a toggle to the bottom of the What’s New window so you can choose on the fly. Along those lines you can also “edit” the Categories tab and hide categories you don’t care to see, similar to Cydia. Additionally, the RockApp sorts the lists by sections, Apps, Themes, Ringtones, Apps AddOns, Repositories, and Other. As this could get confusing when trying to find a specific category, you can “pull” down the categories list (like in the Mail App) to discover the search bar. Finally there is a “Compact Cells” mode (the default) which lists many more packages per screen. If you like the descriptions larger than just turn it off in Settings. In all, the RockApp presents the apps in a pretty logical way according to typical use for installers.

    Another welcome feature coming to Rock Your Phone in 2.0 is Rock Backups. This only works if you have an actual Rock ID (not required to use RockApp, but required for purchasing - like Cydia requires either PayPal or Amazon info). The service essentially takes a snapshot of all the apps you've installed, and associates it with your Rock ID. Then, if you get a new device, or have to restore your iDevice, etc - you reinstall Rock, put in your Rock ID, and simply restore from Backup - it will download all the packages you had before, with the option to deselect packages you'd not like reinstalled. You can keep up to 5 separate backups, and lock them if you'd like one to not be overwritten (default is new backups overwrite old ones on the same day, and after backups have reached 5 total).

    Because RockApp is connecting to the default Cydia sources (the major sources of jailbroken packages), you'll see a wide variety of apps/themes in RockApp now, mostly what you're seeing now in Cydia, with the addition of a little over a dozen apps which are unique to RockApp. Presented a bit differently, the name, rating, and "Install" button (uninstall/update/reinstall if its already installed on your device) are always on top, and the packages depiction is below and scrollable. Interestingly, Cydia Store packages ARE included, but of course don't work - they bring up a clever error message asking you to email the author of the package and ask them to put it in the Rock Store.

    A nice thing - when you install a package, you can simply minimize the installation window (which itself is "prettier" than the Cydia installation screen - you can also see the log output like Cydia normally shows in this screen’s “Log Detail”). Additionally, when installing apps that require a restart, the Rock App will prompt you for a restart. If you choose not to, it’ll restart on exit (allowing you to install and uninstall multiple apps without having to keep respringing – this really cuts down on time managing your apps).

    The package display is nice - a little more AppStore-esque than Cydia's light-weight Googleish results, with ratings being a noticeable difference. RockApp is missing the repository source in the package listings as well. Reviews are also tied to your Rock ID, so users cannot easily spam the service. You're allowed to also sort by Top Rated, which will be more useful as the user base grows.

    Cydia has been slated to get a comments/ratings system for a while now, but is on hold while saurik designs a solid and secure identification method - anonymous comments and ratings are nothing but trouble. Rock solves this issue with their Rock ID, unique per iDevice.

    All in all, RockApp is getting a healthy dose of TLC from its developers, and the results are impressive.

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