iPad Hosts file affecting game w/ no ads?

Discussion in 'Jailbreaks and iOS Hacks' started by IrishVixen, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. IrishVixen macrumors 68020

    IrishVixen

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    #1
    Is there any way to determine what sites a particular app is trying to reach on startup?

    Recently took my iPad 1 from 4.3.3 to 5.1.1 and re-jailbroke it on a clean restore, no backups. Overall, it's running well. But I ran into an interesting problem today that has me stumped.

    One game that pushes this elderly device to its memory limits started crashing at the end of its startup after I installed the same ad-blocking hosts file that's running fine on my iPhone 5. Put the old file back, game loads fully. The weird thing is, the same game loads fine on the iPhone with the exact same hosts file--and the game has no ads.

    Crash Reporter shows absolutely nothing. It isn't catching these crashes. And before anyone asks--nothing cracked, no sketchy repos, etc.

    I really want to use the altered hosts file, as the iPad 1 runs much more smoothly without the ads, ESPECIALLY Safari. But with literally hundreds of sites on that blacklist, I honestly have no idea what is keeping this app from opening. Is there any way to see what site(s) the app might be trying to reach?

    (And why would this be a problem on one device, but not the other? Device speed/RAM? 5.1.1 versus 6.1?)

    ANY ideas are welcome. It's definitely related to the hosts file somehow--tested Mobile Substrate add-ons & tried the app in Safe Mode with no change. Renamed the new hosts file & put the old one back, it magically works again.
     
  2. BumpyFlatline macrumors 68030

    BumpyFlatline

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2012
    #2
    I believe FirewallIP can tell you what sites the app is trying to connect to but its a paid tweak. I feel like there's another tweak that does this too but the name escapes me at the moment. If I find it ill post it.

    As an aside, modified hosts files can have unintended issues. Mainly when you are following a link from one site (or an app like twitter) to an app in the App Store. Many times that redirect is pushed through an ad server so they can generate some ad revenue. There are also a handful of sites (like adfly for example) that I'm aware of that just won't work if their ad server(s) is/are being blocked by a modified hosts file. Just some food for thought.
     
  3. IrishVixen thread starter macrumors 68020

    IrishVixen

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    #3
    Thanks, Bumpy. I'm reading up on hosts overall right now. I was just thinking it would be nice if I had a way to disable redirects for just certain apps. Might be best off using AdBlocker in this case as I can choose not to include this particular app. It's been awfully nice not having apps showing in Cydia though. ;)

    Edit--I forgot about Firewall IP. I actually own it, just don't have it installed on either device at the moment. That's probably my next step then. Thanks!!!
     
  4. BumpyFlatline macrumors 68030

    BumpyFlatline

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2012
    #4
    You're welcome. If you ever figure it out please post your findings.
     
  5. IrishVixen thread starter macrumors 68020

    IrishVixen

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    #5
    Well, I went with the faster, but less perfect solution of buying AdBlocker.

    Explanation: Since I bought Firewall IP a long time back, I went ahead and installed it. It's a terrific app in many ways. The new UI is gorgeous, yet functional. I was able to capture a list of activity for that problem app, then exclude the app from Firewall IP's supervision. With the altered hosts file disabled, and FIP set to ignore the app, all worked fine.

    The problem? FIP is intrusive as hell in the early stages of use. (This was a major reason I stopped using it three years ago.) It starts out blocking absolutely nothing, and you have to build your list yourself. The pop ups requiring action are CONSTANT, with typically little information to go on as to whether an app needs access to that site or not. And maybe I've missed something in the manual or my experimentation, but it seems there's no way to do a straightforward add of a hosts list; it apparently only reads a .plist format, which would require adding <strings></strings> around every single site on a list--and that's time consuming for hundreds and hundreds of sites. So your options are to a) block them as they pop up, b) add them manually one at a time by typing them in, or c) edit an existing hosts file to a plist structure. Ugh.

    Or pay the $2 for AdBlocker instead, which not only taps into existing lists to start with, but then allows you to add others via URL or manual input. For me, being able to exclude certain apps is a pretty big advantage over using just an altered hosts file. I'm all for not adding additional tweaks, especially on an older device, but there comes a point where time=money comes into play and I ran into my limit last night.

    Once set up, I'm sure Firewall IP is terrific in use. It allows a level of fine tuning of access permissions that's very granular, which for privacy concerns is huge. If there was an easy way to drop a massive hosts text file into it, it would be perfect. But without that, I'd just as soon pay my $2 and go the simpler route that still allows for easy general exceptions for problem apps.
     

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