Recently, I was made aware of an app called AppSwitch, which would purportedly let you view advanced details like processes, memory and device information. Based on the people who were talking about it, my initial reaction was that this was an app only for jailbroken devices, and was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to check it out as my phone is currently not jailbroken. Then, I looked into it a bit more, and found out that this was actually an app released on the App Store. Intrigued by the premise and concerned that this might only be available while Apple doens’t realize what they have seemingly inaverdently approved, like the HandyLight app that secretly had tethering, I jumped on this right away. However, what I found was interesting: this may actually be a legitimate app consciously approved by Apple.
AppSwitch comes with several features accessible from the app’s tab bar at the bottom of the screen. Processes lets you view which processes are currently running on your device, as well as some basic information on them, including which apps are currently using multitasking on your device for those with iOS4 multitasking devices. From this menu, you cannot kill any of these processes, but you can switch to supported apps from this menu if they have a URL scheme registered with the device. As well, some apps that support advanced commands with their URL scheme and are recognized by AppSwitch can be used to switch to certain points in the app, like Twitter for iPhone allowing you to open up directly to mentions or to populate a tweet in the tweet field when you open up the app. The System tab lets you see your device model, OS, and UDID; view your IP and MAC addresses, including for your cellular connection; view your load averarge and uptime; and finally, view your device’s free storage space out of its current total. Developers and journalists will appreciate that you can easily send all this info in an email, or just copy their MAC address and UDID to the clipboard.
The Memory tab lets you view the portions of your RAM that are currently Wired, Active, Inactive, and Free, but without being able to alter these values in any way. Finally, the Console tab lets you see what processes are doing and changing on your system, and search the list for what specific processes are doing. This information is largely incomprehensible to end users, and is view-only. Finally, the Settings tab lets you view the app’s manual, change settings, and install app packs that will include icons and specific information for processes, including more commands for switching to specific elements of apps.
While this feels off the bat like this is a case of the App Store submission crew falling asleep on the job, there are reasons to believe that this app actually was consciously approved for release by Apple. Everything the app does is non-destructive; while you have the ability to view all kinds of processes and other information about running apps, and can do things like switch to apps with specific parameters, you can’t actually kill those apps or processes, or damage your device in anyway. The app switching only uses an app’s URL registration protocols to switch, much like how Boxcar works to open up other apps when you get a notification. Information like MAC addresses, IP addresses, and device UDIDs are all information that is easily viewable by the user in other methods, it’s just easily viewed on one screen or copied to the clipboard in this app.
Memory usage information has been seen in other apps currently on the App Store, and it too is non-destructive, it just lets you view the RAM information. The Console of process information, while supremely in-depth and allowing you to see what specifically your device is doing in a way few if any other apps have let you view, is also non-destructive; you can’t start or stop any new processes from here, you can just see what’s going on in specific detail. Other apps like the memory freeing apps were destructive in the way that they killed processes, and that is why they were rejected or eventually pulled by Apple.
Given that AppSwitch does not seem to violate any rules, and just provides an in-depth view at your device and what it’s doing, AppSwitch appears to be in the clear with Apple, and available on the App Store for $0.99…but perhaps only while it lasts.