The Case for Jailbreaking?

The simplest and most expansive iDevice jailbreak was released last night. In the past, and prior to Spirit, most jailbreak solutions required a computer intermediary running software locally to get the job done. It wasn’t difficult, but it did require research and could be somewhat intimidating to the uninitiated. Whereas the new website offers jailbreaking to anyone who can simply navigate to a URL. But I wonder how big the need or interest in jailbreaking is these days.

When I first jailbroke my original iPhone, it was prior to Apple supporting apps… This was the only way to expand iPhone functionality by loading custom software. At the time, my top “illicit” apps were Fring and Twinkle – an early and fine Twitter client. Later on, I had need to jailbreak once again when restrictive 3G policies prevented Skype and SlingPlayer from running on AT&T’s network. Plus, I needed folders before Steve Jobs decided I needed folders. Fortunately, these issues have since been remedied.

Obviously jailbreaks are community developed hacks – exploiting the iSystem to provide deeper and less restrictive access. Along with that often comes buggy behavior, the potential for data loss, and perhaps the voiding of your warranty. And while there are some useful UI enhancements, most of the amateur skinning can’t compete with Apple’s designers. So, with Apple’s large app marketplace and AT&T’s relaxed 3G policies, who needs to jailbreak?

The only path to an iPhone carrier unlock is via jailbreak. And some days I wake up thinking I’d prefer a 2G-only iPhone running on T-Mobile’s network versus my current AT&T coverage blackout (about 8 hours per weekday) and frequently dropped calls. Also, anyone interested in tethering and/or MiFi-esque hotspot capabilities (without paying AT&T twice for the same data bucket) is a good candidate for jailbreaking. In fact, I took a look at MyWi ($20) and was very impressed (pics below) – despite it crushing my battery. But, aside from those two scenarios, I don’t see a pressing need to go down this path. You?

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16 thoughts on “The Case for Jailbreaking?”

  1. I should add that it’s quite refreshing to visit an app store that allows software trials prior to purchase. But I have faith in Apple developing a better alert system and home screen widgets than most of what’s found in Cydia.

  2. I agree that Apple is likely developing some sort of glanceable alert system, (along with some of the other stuff I’m about to mention) but are we going to have to wait another year for it? I’d rather jailbreak and install LockInfo now.

    I also like being able to customize my text alert, SBSettings’ ability to easily turn functionality like WiFi and Bluetooth on and off, and BiteSMS’ quick reply functionality, which is completely worth the price of admission (or a few ads if you want to go the free route).

  3. In the same inquisitive tone, I ask: With Android at its current state of polish, and 2.2 about to be available from all four carriers …what’s the point of having an iPhone at all?

  4. MyWi is the biggest reason to jailbreak. $20 for tethering and a portable wifi hotspot is a great investment. It’s why I JB.

    Beyond that, lockscreen is pretty neat, and there are various other little apps you can play around with, but apple’s appstore rendered most of them unnecessary.

    And of course there’s the elephant in the room, the reason most people jailbreak, pirating apps.

  5. As an iPdad user still stuck on iOS 3, I JB for one reason…backgrounder.

    Being able to throw apps into the background makes the iPad a much more useful tool.

  6. Rodalpho, I didn’t realize that. Probably because no one in my circle uses jailbreaks for pirated software and it’d never occur to me to steal apps – especially since most are so inexpensive. Ah well, schmucks abound.

    Todd, Android is a solid choice for many. There are several handsets on carriers other than AT&T that tempt me.

    PeteyNice, Good point! I forgot backgrounding doesn’t officially hit the iPad until later this fall.

  7. LockInfo, SBSettings and GV Mobile are reason enough for me.

    Sometimes it just boggles my mind why Apple hasn’t taken some of the UI ideas from JB apps like LockInfo and SBSettings and made them their own. Until they do, I’ll be jailbreakin’.

  8. I really see no reason to jailbreak iOS 4 and haven’t on my iPhone 4. iOS 3x on the other hand…

    I jailbroke my iPad to get Fullforce which is far superior to Apple’s pixel doubling for non-native apps. But again, this seems temporary until developers catch up with native features and apps (seriously facebook, get with it).

  9. I myself have been debating whether I should jailbreak or not this time around… I am quite happy with apples folders and “multitasking” support. Right now the biggest things for me will be Lockscreen Widgets, Custom SMS sounds, and Themes….

    I loved my old Theme (illumine @ but after a week without it on my new iPhone 4… i’ve already adjusted….

    the poor choice of sms tones and waste of space on the lockscreen might be dealbreakers for me… but ill wait a little bit and see how stable this thing is.

  10. Yes, still a need.

    1. 3G Unrestrictor – (FaceTime calling anywhere w/o wifi)
    2. Attachment Saver
    3. Safari Downloader
    4. iFile
    5. MyWi
    6. OpenSSH to get full device access to backup files easier then iTunes.
    7. WiFiSync
    8. ActionMenu

    If you don’t like the idea of #1, note, that FaceTime uses QoS so, it’s not like I’m using that much more bandwidth then streaming YouTube videos for that length of time.

    The bottom line is that JailBroken apps have *lead the way* for iPhone OS features

    Spotlight – Searcher
    Copy & Paste – Clippy, OpenClip
    Multi-tasking – Backgrounder
    FaceTime – Squidge (August 12th, 2007 !!! )
    Folders – Categories / PogoPlank
    Tethering – MANY apps. MyWi, PDA.NET, etc…
    Spell Check – Inspell

    You get the idea. Bottom line, is JailBreak developers set the pace and idea whiteboard for Apple Developers.

  11. don’t any of you travel? Jailbreak is the only way to unlock your phone so you can use it at (normal) rates overseas.

    I have a hard time imagining pirate apps are so big.

    Amazing that someone hasn’t hit apple/att with a class action lawsuit on unlocking 2G/3G devices that are more than 2 years old now.

  12. The only reason I jail broke my iPhone 3GS was to install MyWi to allow my WiFi only iPad to get to the Internet while I am at work. But the amount of crap that was required to load to get MyWi to work was astounding, and actually worried me. Then there was the sudden increase in instability of my phone. When I got my new iPhone 4 I have chosen not to bother with any MyWi.

    I do wish that Apple would allow my iPad to connect to my phone over Bluetooth – then I would pay AT&T for the tethering and be just fine with it. Is it a rip off from AT&T? Of course.

  13. Can someone answer 2 questions for me, I have a Iphone 4 and I want to jailbreak it with Jailbreakme. However I want to know:

    Will I still be able to purchase apps from the app store with no issues (ie. not be blocked from my account)

    And will my iphone still sync properly with Itunes

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