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Cydia is an alternative app store for iOS devices that enables users to download and install software that's unavailable through Apple's official App Store. Cydia was initially released for iPhone 2G users by Jay Freeman (also known as Saurik), and since has become an increasingly popular way for individuals to customize their iOS devices beyond what's possible through official channels.
Cydia is an iOS package manager for jailbroken devices. Jailbreaking involves bypassing Apple restrictions and gaining root access and installing software not endorsed by them; to use Cydia on such a device, it must first be jailbroken before Cydia will become accessible.
Cydia takes its name from the scientific name for the wormwood plant used to make absinthe alcoholic beverage, reflecting how its used primarily by users who wish to "intoxicate" their devices with customizations and third-party apps.
Cydia has become synonymous with jailbreaking and has played an instrumental role in its history. When first jailbreaking was introduced, Cydia provided users with access to third-party software; later as more people jailbroke, so did Cydia itself, with developers creating thousands of packages and tweaks available for download and installation by users.
As Apple tightens iOS security, jailbreaking has become increasingly difficult and Cydia has experienced declining popularity. Recently, however, Cydia has faced competition from alternative app stores such as Sileo and Zebra that aim to provide a more user-friendly experience than Cydia itself.
Cydia remains an integral part of the iOS customization community despite these challenges and continues to offer users who wish to personalize their devices beyond what can be accomplished through official channels an avenue to do so.
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