Freebies you didn’t know you already had

This blog post is something of a how-to for doing something that may be a little unethical, so proceed duly warned.

For obvious reasons, I won’t divulge exactly which iOS app I’m referring to. Let’s just call it the XYZ Social Sharing Video Editor. Honestly, I hate XYZ Social Sharing Video Editor. It’s a pitiful app. But one single thing it has that I love are several music loops that can be used as background audio for short videos. The free version of the app has a half dozen or so loops. For several dollars, you can unlock more than 100 additional music loops.

Since I despise the actual XYZ editor so much, I wanted to use the loops in iMovie for iOS instead. With a bit of research, I figured out how I could accomplish this. It turns out that iOS app files are really just .ZIP archive wrappers. So here are the steps:

  1. Right click (or control click) the app in your iTunes list of installed apps and select the command to reveal it in Finder.
  2. Make a copy of the app (I cannot stress this step strongly enough, for protection) to a location such as your desktop.
  3. Change the file extension to .zip
  4. Decompress the file as you would any other .ZIP archive.
  5. Open the decompressed files and hunt for the app binary file. It should have the same name as the original app and the icon will probably have a circle-slash can’t-be-launched symbol overlaid.
  6. Use whatever steps you prefer for viewing a file’s Package Contents in the Finder. Once inside, you can dig around for all sorts of assets used to build the app.

This is how I copied out the .m4a audio loops and placed them in my Dropbox for easy access anywhere, including the iOS 8 share sheet function to send a file to an iMovie project.

But there was a huge bonus when I did this. My assumption was that the additional music loops that are unlocked with an in-app purchase would download into the app after the transaction had been completed. Nope. ALL the music loops were already part of the app assets and could be copied out just as easily as the free loops!

Since I didn’t break any form of encryption to perform these steps, I don’t see that anything I did was illegal. Unethical, most likely. But not illegal.

Still, I encourage you to be kind to developers. I’m going to do the in-app purchase anyway because having access to the music loops is worth the few dollars.

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