...the new version, 4.0, is in the final stages of development. We expect it to stay the premier tool for installing applications that do not present in the App Store, giving you best of both worlds - as it will peacefully co-exist with the existing App Store. I will publish short facts about whats new in the Installer 4 - and, to predict some questions as to "when will it be available", I will say - immediately or shortly after the iPhone Dev Team releases new PWNAGE.
Today's focus is on the repository format. As you know, for Installer.app to work, it has to contact one or more repository servers - most of which are maintained by third parties. The format of the repository didnt change since version 1.0 of Installer, and we have decided to take the opportunity and change that (since none of the software created for 1.1.4 will work on 2.0 anyway). There was two main issues for the 'old' repositories: bandwidth and troubles with the compatibility. Let me elaborate.
Bandwidth usage. Whenever Installer.app on your iPhone (or iPod touch) was refreshing a source, it was fetching the whole repository listing, which can be quite large (for example, for Ste packaging it's currently around 700 Kb). Of course, this consumed bandwidth on your end, as well as repository owner's end - and multiplied by the number of the iPhones around, this could easily be hundreds of gigabytes of data per day.
Second issue was compatibility. You never was sure whether the package you're downloading was going to work under your particular firmware version. Many package authors have worked around this by presenting the alert sheet to the user after the package was downloaded - which is not the optimal solution.
The new repository format solves both issues. First, it downloads much more compact packages listing from the server, resulting in over than 3 times less bandwidth. And second, the script behind the repository is smart enough to filter the packages based on the firmware version youre using and only give you the packages that can be installed there. Nice, isn't it?