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Friday, August 6, 2010

10 Reasons Why You Should Jailbreak Your iOS Device Today



The cat and mouse game between Apple and the iOS hacker community took an interesting turn this week, with the return of a simple, one-click jailbreak that hasn’t been seen since the early days of the iPhone’s existence (iPhone OS 1.1.1, to be exact). Now that it’s so easy to do--and so easy to undo with a simple restore--we have a list of the top ten reasons you should go jailbreak your device, right now. Or, you know, right after you read this article first.

So what exactly is jailbreaking? At its core, it’s a hack that allows you to install most anything you want on your iOS device, which include mods to change its appearance (such as “themes,” which make iOS look like other operating systems or show off your particular pop culture tastes), apps that have been kicked out of the App Store such as GV Mobile and even a carrier unlock to free your device from AT&T, or to use it with local SIM cards when traveling to another country.

If you’re not quite sure why you would want to do such a thing, keep reading and see if any of our suggestions might sway your opinion.

Jon Stewart "appholes"Give Apple the One-Finger Salute

It probably goes without saying that Apple doesn’t want you to jailbreak your iOS device. They claim it’s a security risk (jailbreaks generally take advantage of bugs in the operating system to do their magic in the first place) and that your device is less stable. Despite how insanely easy it is to do now thanks to Sunday’s release of (more on that later), there is some merit to Apple’s claims, which even the hackers probably couldn’t deny.

But isn’t that a good reason to do it anyway? Like a spoiled kid who defies their parents at every turn, we iOS device owners have the ability to defy CEO Steve Jobs and the whole Apple corporation, just by hacking our device to do things the folks in Cupertino simply won’t allow. After all, Apple themselves used to sell their computers with the "Think different" mantra, and even go so far as to claim that Macs were the computers for the rest of us. So we say: Why shouldn’t our iOS devices have the same free-thinking, independent spirit? Jailbreaking your device tells Apple that you’re not just one of the crowd anymore.

Reclaim Those Banned Apps

It seems like an eternity since Google’s own Google Voice app had the App Store door slammed in its face, which also caused a few third-party variations to also be shown the door at the same time. Apple’s official stance is that they’re still “evaluating” such apps--as usual, AT&T got the finger of blame pointed in their direction as well, but here we are, more than a year later and still no dedicated Google Voice app for the iOS.

GV Mobile+ dialerWhile many users have since moved on to Riverturn’s VoiceCentral Black Swan (a feature-laden web app that requires no hackery), it does have limitations, including the inability to directly access your device’s address book. After his full-featured GV Mobile app was kicked out of the App Store, developer Sean Kovacs headed to Cydia, the jailbreaker’s equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys. And he’s certainly not the only App Store outcast to do the same.

Back in May, we told you about an ingenious new app called Wi-Fi Sync from developer Greg Hughes, which wirelessly syncs your iOS device with iTunes. Not surprisingly, Apple denied the app access to the App Store, so Greg also hightailed it over to Cydia and for a mere $9.99, it can now be yours. Of course, most developers would still prefer to get into the App Store “holy grail” since that’s where the real money is, but it’s nice to know that we have another way to access choice apps that the folks in Cupertino would rather you not.

App Store, Cydia or Rock: Freedom of Choice

The best news is that Cydia is not your only choice for jailbroken fun (although it’s the most popular one, and included with most jailbreaks, including Search for “RockApp” inside Cydia and you’ll be able to install Rock Your Phone, another jailbreak-only marketplace which is home to a number of popular apps, including My3G (just updated to allow FaceTime calls over 3G on a jailbroken iPhone 4) and MyWi, which allows your 3G-equipped iOS device to become a wireless hotspot, sharing your connection with up to five other devices at once.

Both Cydia and Rock offer paid apps as well as plenty of free extensions, tweaks and mods. Certainly there is plenty of duplication on their virtual shelves, but it’s worth having both apps installed on your jailbroken device, particularly when Rock offers free trials for its most popular apps so you can try before you buy. It’s also worth noting that Rock has the ability to save a backup of your jailbroken apps and restore them easily, which is important if you want to restore your device and jailbreak it again later, particularly if you use a lot of jailbreak-only apps.

Get Unshackled from AT&T

While many of us are perfectly content with signing a two-year commitment to AT&T and their often-troubled service, anyone who has ventured outside of the United States has seen the beauty of how other countries handle their cell phone service. Prepaid SIM cards are commonplace in Europe and many other countries, but since your iPhone is locked to AT&T, you can’t take advantage of bringing your handset with you when you go. If you travel overseas and use your iPhone, you'll pay exorbitant calling and data rates for international roaming.

ultrasn0w 1.0That is, unless you have jailbroken your handset. Head to Cydia or Rock and download ultrasn0w, then restart your iPhone and experience what freedom from AT&T truly tastes like (you’ll have to trim down a full-sized prepaid SIM to fit in your micro-SIM sized iPhone 4). You can grab a T-Mobile SIM card and use it to your heart’s content (although their 3G service is not compatible with the iPhone, so you’ll be stuck with EDGE service for now), or head to your local Best Buy and pick up prepaid SIM cards from the likes of O2 for a mere $9.99, which gives you 50 free minutes and additional minutes as low as four cents per minute, plus free international calls to more than 50 countries.

The Best User Experience

Some of the iOS features we take for granted now were actually available to jailbreakers well before Apple officially blessed them and did their own. Copy & paste, multitasking, streaming audio & video over 3G--you name it, the jailbreakers did it first (and some would argue, still do it the best).

Because jailbreaking your iOS device often gives you the best user experience while Apple is slow to play catch up, you can expect to enjoy such amenities as wi-fi syncing with iTunes well before the cooks in Cupertino add it to the iOS menu.

Make It Your Own

Head to Cydia’s Sections tab, scroll down to Themes and be amazed and astounded by how many new choices you’ll have for dressing up your iOS device. At press time, there are nearly 2,000 themes in Cydia alone, which allow your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad look like most anything you want it to just by applying a simple theme which uses an app called Winterboard.

Themes include screen dressing from popular movies such as Star Wars and Harry Potter, video games or even celebrity images such as Megan Fox, Scarlett Johanssen, Cameron Diaz and many more -- and yes, that includes even adult celebrities that Apple CEO Steve Jobs would likely frown upon seeing on an iOS device. The Winterboard app required to use the themes is donation-ware and comes courtesy of Cydia founder Jay Freeman (better known to jailbreakers as “Saurik”).

Holy Cow, Thousands of Free Ringtones!

Remember the dark early days when you couldn’t even have a custom ringtone on your iPhone? Apple finally plugged that glaring omission by offering 99-cent ringtones you could make yourself on iTunes, but most iPhone owners wanted complete freedom to create their own for free, using the music library they already owned (Apple’s selection was limited to tracks where music labels and rights holders would allow ringtones).

Rock app ringtonesIf you’re not the resourceful type, or maybe you’re just too lazy and unmotivated to create your own ringtones, chances are you’ll find something to love from the selection of nearly 3,000 free ringtones featured in Cydia or Rock. A few clicks and your iPhone could be spewing Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” the next time somebody calls. Seriously, who wouldn’t get excited about that?

Because It’s Legal Now

Jailbreaking has been going on since the debut of the original iPhone in 2007, and while it wasn’t exactly the kind of lawless, illicit activity that might land you in prison, it was definitely frowned upon by Apple, including being a clear violation of your warranty with them.

Apple’s hardline warranty stance remains the same three and a half years later, but a recent ruling by the Library of Congress makes one thing very clear: Users are legally permitted to jailbreak and/or unlock their devices here in the United States, whether Apple and AT&T likes it or not. Obviously, that didn’t stop jailbreakers prior to the ruling and should the laws change in the future, it’s unlikely to deter them from continuing to do so--but at least we have a clear legal precedent, knowing that the U.S. government gives the practice a thumbs up.

Support the Hacking Community

Largely a community effort, most of the folks involved with creating jailbreaking tools do it simply out of love, rather than for profit. While some of the hackers who work on iOS devices do accept donations, the policy of some of the better-known groups like the Dev Team (who is responsible for the aforementioned ultrasn0w, as well as popular tools such as redsn0w and Pwnage Tool), do not.

While Apple may be in a “cat and mouse game” with the hackers, frowning with disapproval at each new jailbreaking attempt, let’s not forget that Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak also started their own illustrious careers by doing such things for both fun and profit. In fact, one of their earliest efforts was a “phone phreaker,” a box that attached to the telephone and allowed you to make free long-distance calls. Ironically, the enterprising Steves were also quite happy to rail against “The Man”--in this case, telco giant AT&T. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Do It Now, Before Apple Plugs the Hole

Perhaps the best reason to jailbreak your iOS device is the simplest one: Because you can. Open Mobile Safari on your device, head to and you’re one step away from having a jailbroken device. That’s a far cry from some of the gyrations that jailbreakers have had to endure over the years, worrying about certain versions of iOS being incompatible or fretting that their modem firmware wasn’t capable of being unlocked.

Thanks to the hacker known as Comex and his unruly team of jailbreak wizards, you can throw just about any device (the original iPhone isn’t supported, but it’s freely jailbroken using Pwnage Tool or redsn0w), recent operating system version (3.1.2 or higher for iOS SDKmost devices, including iOS 4.0.1) and firmware at and still enjoy the fruits of freedom. The full list of devices compatible with

iPod 1G on 3.1.2
iPod 1G on 3.1.3
iPod 2G on 3.1.2
iPod 2G on 3.1.3
iPod 2G on 4.0
iPod 3G on 3.1.2
iPod 3G on 3.1.3
iPod 3G on 4.0
iPad on 3.2
iPad on 3.2.1
iPhone 3G on 3.1.2
iPhone 3G on 3.1.3
iPhone 3G on 4.0
iPhone 3G on 4.0.1
iPhone 3G[S] on 3.1.2
iPhone 3G[S] on 3.1.3
iPhone 3G[S] on 4.0
iPhone 3G[S] on 4.0.1
iPhone 4 on 4.0
iPhone 4 on 4.0.1

Of course, Apple is sure to plug the exploit used by with an iOS 4.0.2 or maybe 4.1 update, but one thing that the last few years have taught us: Nothing is impossible when it comes to jailbreaking, and the hackers will always find a way, eventually.

Perhaps Apple should see the light and offer Cydia and/or Rock as “alternative” app stores someday -- but for now, it’s fun and (mostly) free to enjoy the spoils of the jailbreak warriors who keep thwarting the iOS guardians in Cupertino just the same.


Donald Pempershyker August 6, 2010 at 12:42 PM  

all devices that require a CVO chip replacement when jailbreaking a device (iphones excluded obviously) will never work right. Any berthing plate without a positron distribution coil (located in a smart phone's element feed) won't relay any code unless there's an upgrade module compatible with standard CVO technologies. My new blackberry has the same problem.