The 21st century will go down in history as the era in which phones ceased being phones. The modern smart phone, which makes up an increasingly large share of the world’s top-selling phones, is jam-packed with so many features that to call it a “phone” seems, all irony aside, a reductive move.
Through the major digital stores for phone applications (apps), such as the Android (Windows) and Apple App Store, users can download apps that let them make international calls, manage their finances, order food delivered to their door, and check emails. Somewhere in this process, the “phone” of it all gets lost. Yet in a world where staying connected to everything simultaneously is the norm, the proliferation of smartphone apps is the natural answer to the call of the consumers. Considering the intensity of that demand, it is no surprise that there are many different interfaces through which one can download apps onto her smartphone, all around the world. Amongst this crop of alternative app stores, one will find the Chinese software known as 25PP.
Users in the United States or Western Europe looking to use 25PP on their smartphones will need to know that the standard operating procedure for using 25PP is not so standard. If you type “25PP” into a Google search, lots of scare words will crop up: “piracy,” “illegal,” and “hacking,” among others. The procedure known as “jailbreaking” will also feature prominently in that search. Anyone interested in 25PP needs to be aware of all the potential ramifications of using it to download apps onto their smartphone, and there are potential links between 25PP and piracy, amongst other things. This Digital Recourse guide to downloading, installing, and using 25PP will loop you in to the purpose and utility of the software, in addition to keeping you aware of any potential downfalls that might come about when you use 25PP on your smartphone. This article will focus specifically on the iPhone, which has the most difficulties in terms of downloading third-party app stores.
A Note on Jailbreaking
When it comes to modifying (“modding“) a smartphone, the word “jailbreak” is the mot du jour. Although jailbreaking has come to connote a wide range range of phone hacks, it specifically derives from the software behind Apple’s smartphone, the iPhone. Because Apple exerts control over both the hardware and software of devices like the iPhone, users cannot simply install any app they want on an iPhone, iPad, etc. Any app sold (or made available for free) through Apple’s App Store must go through Apple first; after approval, the app can then be made for Apple users.
The benefits to this process, from Apple’s perspective, are a few. The most obvious of these has to do with virus control. It has long been a word-of-mouth selling point of Apple devices that they “never get viruses.” While these claims are dubious at best — more likely, outright false — it is true that Apple does a lot of work to ensure that its products have a bulletproof-like resistance to viruses. The general strength of Apple devices, when paired with their famed user-friendly interfaces, is what keeps them flying off the shelves at stores around the world, even though their price tags tend to be comparatively high. By requiring all apps to get the Apple seal of approval, Apple does its best to ensure that no trojan horses can make its way into the devices of the millions of Apple users worldwide.
Jailbreaking is the process by which a user can take her iPhone and removes all software limitations that Apple puts on its devices. There are a few reasons why someone might choose to do this: he might prefer to customize his iPhone in a way that is not allowed by the Apple software limitations, or he might want to download some apps that are not approved by Apple to be sold through the App store. This process is somewhat similar, but not identical, to the technique of “rooting” an Android phone. Android phones do not typically have the strict software limitations that come with iPhones — in fact, many phone vendors will notify their customers that they can modify or switch out their Android phone operating system (OS) with a different OS — but through routing an Android user can give himself administrative control that is somewhat parallel to the administrative control attained by an iPhone user who has jailbroken their phone.
From the perspective of the user, jailbreaking is a bit of a dice roll. First, it is important to note that jailbreaking a device will immediately void its warranty. Should your phone suffer any damage, or should some of its software start acting wonky, you will have no means of recourse through the manufacturer, since in the eyes of the manufacturer you have thwarted the design of its product. When Apple designs the iPhone with certain software limitations and sells it to a consumer, in doing so it is effectively saying: “The phone is meant to be this way.” Any deviation from that standard transfers all liability for the device to the consumer, as Apple will discourage its users from jailbreaking their phones.
Now, Digital Recourse is Switzerland when it comes to recommending whether or not you decide to break your phone: that is to say, neutrality is our position. There are many who have jailbroken their phones with no problem at all; generally, these people will be pretty tech-savvy and willing to take risks in modifying or replacing their phone’s OS. While your options will be comparatively limited if you stick to Apple’s software limitations, you can rest assured that you are likely to avoid any major OS pratfalls when you download software from the App store. For those on the fence about jailbreaking, read the directions on 25PP ahead with some caution: given that you are voiding the warranty on your iPhone or iPad, this is not a move to take flippantly. This process is not as simple as downloading any other app through legitimate channels. Do not jailbreak your iPhone if:
- You are unsure you want to void the warranty on your iPhone.
- You are unsure you can manage all that is necessary to upkeep your phone’s software.
How to Download and Install 25PP
Now, despite all the previous qualifiers, there are reports that 25PP can be downloaded without jailbreaking your iPhone. Unlock Boot has an article detailing how you can download the app onto your iPhone or iPad by doing the following:
- Click on this link in your iPhone’s web browser.
- You will be directed to a web page where the language is in Chinese. Don’t fret if you can’t read it: simply scroll down to the blue bar at the bottom of the page, which is a download button. (Note: if you use Google Chrome as your browser, you can automatically translate web pages from another language to English.)
- After downloading the app, it will appear on your screen. To ensure your iPhone allows you to use 25PP, do the following:
- Go to “Settings,” then “General,” then “Device Management.”
- Touch the developer name “Beijing Huifeng Xingye Technology Co. Ltd” to allow your iPhone to “trust” the software made by that company.
From here, there are some slight quirks to this process, which Unlock Boot lays out like so:
Now, despite Unlock Boot’s assurance in this procedure, it is worth noting that Apple could choose to nullify this process with a simple update to iOS. While 25PP and other app stores like it may be able to be downloaded onto current iPhone and iPad OSes, Apple could decide allowing such third-party software is no longer in its interest. Apple has long been criticized for the strictures app developers must go through to have their apps featured on the app store; Android and Windows users much prefer the customizability and openness of non-Apple smartphones. For now, Apple seems to be trying to counteract that perception of its OS, but either for financial or security reasons it could revert to its old security methods with ease.
For those users that have jailbroken their phones, the process is simple. (If you haven’t yet jailbroken your phone — a subject for a whole other article — have a look a guides like this, this, or this.)
- Go to the Cydia store. (This is another third-party app store, like 25PP.)
- Click on “Manage,” then “Sources.”
- Click on “Edit,” then “Add.”
- Enter this URL manually or via copy/paste: http://apt.25pp.com
- Return to “Sources,” then click on the 25PP source to install it onto your jailbroken phone.
A Final Note on 25PP
While to all accounts 25PP is a third-party app store source, it is surprising just how little information there is about it on the web. There are official websites where you can download it, but trying to parse through that information is difficult, especially given the language barrier. In reading the various accounts of 25PP on the web, some interesting comments pop up.
One Reddit user claims that 25PP is used to bypass the strict Internet policies of China. Another Redditor writes that 25PP is primarily used to facilitate piracy. That Redditor also notes that that 25PP is owned by the massive online retailer Alibaba, currently the world’s largest retailer, and further claims that Alibaba uses 25PP to stake out competition in a tense Chinese market. This Redditor writes, “Essentially, in China, jailbroken iOS devices became a battleground on which wars between companies the size of Microsoft and Google are fought.”
That’s a lofty statement, and perhaps the subject of a future cyber-thriller written by Tom Clancy. All of this is to say that 25PP’s future is quite open-ended, and its value as a third-party app store is uncertain in a highly competitive market in China. Those interested in 25PP ought to keep tabs on the app, both to see its likely future and to ensure that they don’t get caught up in a piracy scheme, should the piracy allegations raised by some online users prove true. While we here at Digital Recourse are certainly all for one being creative with their electronic devices, we are certainly not in the business of piracy.