Installing iOS apps direct without going through the App Store…

One of the features of Android is that you can install anything you want, from any source — such as a developer’s website. Until app stores made all of this obsolete, this was the way all software was distributed. Sure, there were always index sites, such as or, where you could find links to all the installers, but ultimately everything came direct from the developer.

By contrast, Apple’s iOS apps only install through Apple’s App Store. Except that’s never really been true. Even without jailbreaking an iPhone, you have always been able to install an app direct from a developer for testing purposes. The developer had to be registered with Apple, but beyond that there were no barriers. Downloader beware.

I recently came across what I believe is a misuse of this beta test capability… There is a computerized bicycle light I have been researching and it is programmed via an Android or iPhone app. Their app does not appear in Apple’s App Store. Instead, you get a QR code from their website which will take you to a special download website:

I don’t know why they don’t just post the link directly — I have a QR reader app, but most folks I know don’t. For those without a QR reader app, that location goes to:

If you go there, you can download the iPhone app direct to your device, and your device will warn you:   


Do you trust this app? XuanWheel iOS app.


You can see the green app icon in the lower right of that screen shot.

So yes, a developer can do this… But isn’t supposed to. I assume they plan to get their app in the App Store at some point… Until then, I wonder how many are brave enouhg to directly install it?

Not me 🙂


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