Where does iPad keep IPA installation files?

Discussion in 'iPad Hacking' started by Commodore, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. Commodore
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    When I sync the iPad with a computer, the installation IPA files are also copied to iTunes\Mobile Applications. Out of plain curiosity -- where does iPad keep these installation files within its file-system structure in the first place? I know for sure they're not being (re)downloaded when the sync is in progress.
  2. f4780y
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    f4780y Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The ipa files are not stored on the device as you assume. That would be a complete duplication of storage for every installed app.

    An ipa is a compressed archive file, with the app binary itself being protected with DRM tying it to you personally. In technical terms ipa is not much more than a ZIP file.

    When ipa's are installed, the go to var/mobile/Applications/ are are appropriately decompressed by IOS.

    When transferring purchases from the device to iTunes, the ipa archive is reconstituted by IOS and sent upstream...
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013
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  3. Commodore
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    If I get it right, it's basically sort of like "portable apps" in "Windows terminology" (which have no "setup.exe" equivalent, and everything the app needs is contained within its own folder, ready to run, and the only thing that changes in there are user settings if they're stored)?
    So the IPA archive that gets (re)generated while transferring purchases from iPad to computer's iTunes is basically the same as the "installation version" (and it just leaves the additional files for user settings and user content from the apps' folders out, I assume)?
  4. f4780y
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    f4780y Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, nothing "variable" will go into the archive. That's one of the "benefits" of the sandbox process and the way IOS apps are designed to work.
  5. Commodore
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    Shouldn't there be two versions of the same app in case you sync both iPhone and iPad - at least in some cases? Or is it because one IPA contains both versions of an app? For instance, I only see Facebook 6.0.2.ipa in there, although I'm pretty sure that iPhone iPad versions are not the same. Or do developers *always* put both versions into one IPA?
  6. willerz2
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    IPA is universal. What differentiates the iPad from iPhone version is the identifier check built into the app and/or how it's built
  7. Commodore
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    And by "how it's built" you mean the parts that make an app look "HD version" or iPhone version depending on where you install and use it (except those that are iPhone only and can only be 2x-scaled when on iPad)?
  8. willerz2
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    In XCode, there's a portion of the initial project setup screen that asks what device family you want the device to specifically target, which would differentiates iPhone and iPad apps from one another, or have a "2-in-1" app.
  9. Commodore
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    So... on a related matter...
    if I get me an app via AppsGoneFree on my iPhone, and its label says "Universal" (as opposed to "iPhone" or "iPad")... will that "purchase" allow me to install (from my purchased / not on this iPad list) the iPad version days/weeks later on the iPad (or will it be the iPhone one, since the first purchase was done on iPhone)?
    (That is, will it contain both versions, so it doesn't matter on which iDevice you make the purchase? I remember some apps have separate versions/purchases.)
  10. Mickey330
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    Correct. If its a "universal" app - you can download it on the other device. Again, it's all about coding and the app "knows" to which device it's being installed; it doesn't matter, either, which device you used to make the purchase. It also doesn't matter time wise - you can install or re-install an app to either device at any time (again, as long as they are listed as universal or compatible with a certain device).

    Hope that clarifies.

    Marilyn

    ADDED: I take advantage of this feature a lot when I'm reading tech articles on my iPad). If I see an app that's on sale (or being offered free), I'll use my phone to get it right away before the price changes. This way, I don't have to close my article/reader to go to the AppStore on my iPad. Then, when I'm done reading the news on the iPad, I go to the AppStore and get the app I just bought to put on my iPad. This cross-downloading works great...
    Last edited: May 22, 2013
  11. Commodore
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    Exactly. :) Although it would be great if it were possible just to purchase an app into the cloud, without installing (hoarding...). I presume this isn't available yet?

    But there are some apps that are separate for some reason, right? I can't think of any specific right now (and too lazy to wade thru the devices), but I do remember they were usually called "SomeAppName HD" for iPad and "SomeAppName" for iPhone. Maybe even different prices, or one version free, another not. I suppose pricing policy is the only reason for this separation; or it's because the HD version was added later on and was not integrated yet into "universal" package.
  12. Mickey330
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    Well, you could always buy the app via iTunes. Then, you'd have it but you won't have to put it on any iDevice until you wished to.

    A lot of apps are designed specifically for the iPad (usually, to take advantage of the [much] larger screen. The naming convention was to call,these apps HA, which was usually shorthand for an iPad app. Now, especially with the advent of the iPhone 5, this naming convention doesn't strictly mean the iPad. IOW - it's a confusing mess! :)

    But, it's really not pricing that makes the apps different. It's the way they are designed to run on the particular device. Some developers just make the decision to design specifically for the iPad or for the iPhone; they don't make a universal app.

    Marilyn
  13. Commodore
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    I meant without the need for a "3rd device". Guess this is also something we could wish for in the next iOS release (or maybe just Store update). ;)

    EDIT:
    Just checking what's on the freebies menu today, and got that example of separate apps (Angry Birds Space vs. Angry Birds Space HD; different price otherwise (except today, both 0 :) ); other than that, guess I'll just have to get both).
    Last edited: May 23, 2013

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