What is jailbreaking? If you are a regular reader of Jaxov, you will know that a considerable chunk of topics we cover here concerns the matter of jailbreaking your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. But what exactly is iOS jailbreaking? What are the advantages of jailbreaking your iOS device? What are the disadvantages to keep in mind with regards to jailbreak? At the end of the day, is it worth it to jailbreak your iDevice? In this post, we will try at the best of our abilities to explain What is Jailbreaking, its Benefits, Risks & its Legality.
What is Jailbreaking?
Jailbreaking is basically the process of freeing your device (thus the term jailbreak) from the limitations that are imposed by Apple. While the iOS is one of the most stable and secure mobile operating systems around, it can become too restrictive due to Apple's "closed" mantra. Jailbreaking will allow the user to have read/write access to the iOS operating system which allows them to download and install additional apps, extensions and themes that are all unauthorized by Apple and not available officially in the App Store. And this brings us to the next important topic which is Cydia.
Of course, you can't discuss about jailbreaking without mentioning Cydia. This is essentially the ultimate reason why you jailbreak your device. One can say that there is no point to jailbreaking your device if you don't even want to install Cydia. Jailbreaking your device will install Cydia into it which is a third-party digital distribution platform. To keep it simple, think of it as the "other" App Store or the "black market" version of the App Store because in a sense, all unauthorized apps and tweaks usually end up here. Much like the App Store, there are both free and paid apps (referred to as packages) available in Cydia.
Who's Who of Jailbreaking
Of course, you can't talk about jailbreaking without going over some prominent personalities that made the very concept possible in the first place.
Jay Freeman also known as Saurik is the father of Cydia. Saurik is almost synonymous to the word jailbreaking these days. Not only is he responsible for the development of Cydia, he has also single-handedly fostered the jailbreak community and made it strong over the years. There are instances as well that Saurik lent a helping hand in developing untethered jailbreaks. (@saurik)
Another world famous hacker who currently plays an important to world of jailbreaking. MuscleNerd is well-known as one of the core members of the iPhone Dev Team and acts as the frontman of the group. The iPhone Dev Team is known for releasing some of the most notable jailbreak tools available like Redsn0w, PwnageTool and Ultrasn0w. (@MuscleNerd)
Also known as Joshua Hill in real life, the infamous hacker with his team Chronic Dev is responsible for jailbreak tools such as GreenPois0n and the crash data recovery tool, C-Dev Reporter. P0sixninja is considered to be the leader of Chronic Dev Team which has developed a good deal of software and found several exploits that pave the way for the creation of many jailbreak tools. (@p0sixninja)
His real name is Nicholas Allegra and is certainly one of the most popular jailbreak hackers around. Comex has the distinction as the hacker who got features in Forbes magazine. His fame is quite well-deserved though as he is the one responsible for JailbreakMe 2.0 (Star) and JailbreakMe 3.0 (Saffron). Both of which are untethered jailbreak solutions and have been noted as some of the easiest jailbreak tools to use. Comex is now working for Apple but the nature of his work remains a mystery. (@comex)
Pod2g is a hacker from France who is known for his ability to find jailbreak exploits within the iOS. Pod2g rose to fame when he was able to locate the exploit that enabled the creation of the very first untethered jailbreak for the iOS 5. He also have made significant contribution to the development of the A5 untethered jailbreak which finally jailbroken iOS 5 into iPhone 4S and iPad 2. (@pod2g)
iH8sn0w is a young hacker who is responsible for some of the most useful jailbreak tools available. Perhaps his most popular tool is Sn0wbreeze, an alternative jailbreak tool for users of Windows. He also created the first ever SHSH blob dumper called iFaith, which enables users to save their SHSH blobs which comes in handy when downgrading. Most of his tools are geared towards Windows. (@iH8sn0w)
Also known as Stefan Esser in real life, i0n1c is widely known for developing the iOS 4.3.x untethered exploit which certainly catapulted him into jailbreak stardom. The exploit was then handed down to the iPhone Dev Team in order to be released in the form of a tool. He has the tendency to troll his Twitter followers at times though. (@i0n1c)
Definitely one of the most controversial personas in the jailbreak community, Geohot or George Hotz in real life is the first person to release a software unlock for the original iPhone. Some of his notable tools are purplera1n, blackra1n and limera1n. Geohot also succeeded in jailbreaking the Playstation 3 which eventually got him into a legal battle with Sony. Geohot used to work for Facebook but has recently quit due to unknown reasons.
What are the Benefits of Jailbreaking?
Third-party Jailbreak Apps and Tweaks. Probably one of the best reasons why you should jailbreak your device is the plethora of jailbreak tweaks and apps that are available to you through Cydia. Most of the apps and tweaks that are found in Cydia can't be availed through the App Store. Some of these applications can tweak certain aspects of your device while there are those that completely changes the look and feel of your device. Some of the most awesome jailbreak apps that you can download are SBSettings, 3G Unrestrictor, Springtomize, BiteSMS, Infinifolders, IntelliScreenX and more.
Unlock Your iPhone. Some folks buy their iPhones from another country and then bring it into their own. But since the phone is usually tied down to a carrier, one would need to unlock it first so it can be used for any carrier. If you jailbreak your device, you will be able to install a jailbreak app called Ultrasn0w and unlock your iPhone so you can use the carrier of your choice. Although there is another unlock method that requires you to purchase an interposer SIM and it doesn't require a jailbreak.
Full Customization. By jailbreaking your device, you will be able to fully customize your iOS device. iOS simply isn't known for its customizability. There is a jailbreak app called Winterboard that allows you to completely change the theme of iOS or for a more advanced solution, you can try Dreamboard. You can also customize the look of your lockscreen, Springboard, music player, slide to unlock bar, Notification Center and so on. With a jailbreak, you will be able to customize your device to a degree where you can really call it your own.
The Process is Quick, Easy and Reversible. As the years went by, jailbreak developers have working hard to provide the easiest jailbreak solutions. These days, it will only take a few clicks before you can jailbreak your device. The only tricky part is placing your device in DFU mode and even that is not that hard to perform. Even complete newbies can jailbreak their devices with ease. After jailbreaking, should you decide that it is not for you, you can always reverse the process by restoring your iDevice through iTunes.
Installous. Now this is a rather sensitive subject and is often a subject for intense debate. But I feel that this is rather an unavoidable issue and it should be safe to assume that some people might treat this as their sole reason for jailbreaking. With jailbreaking, it will allow you install an app called Installous which basically lets you download cracked apps for free. Not so sure if that $4.99 app from the App Store is worth your money or not? Well, you can sort of give it a free spin and see if you like the app or not. Unfortunately, this is also vulnerable to piracy.
Disadvantages? Risks of Jailbreaking?
Bricking. The term suggests a software error that rendered the device completely unrecoverable without some hardware replacement. Now with regards to iOS devices, I feel that this is a rather loose term. In my experience, I haven't heard of a device that has been legitimately bricked. A device that was deemed to be bricked can be recovered through DFU mode and iTunes restore. If there is indeed a chance for bricking, the percentage is very, very low.
Warranty Void. Jailbreaking is a perfectly legal act but the folks over at Cupertino thinks otherwise. Any attempt to jailbreak an iDevice will void your warranty. So with that said, Apple has the right to deny you with any service repairs in case your device is damaged or malfunctions. So just a little tip: you might want to restore your device prior to taking it to Apple for repairs since they won't be able to detect it.
Bugs and Glitches. While the iOS is a fairly bug-free experience, the same doesn't apply to jailbroken devices. Jailbreaking itself will make your device less stable. So you will experience issues like some apps will crash or stop working altogether, faster battery consumption, noticeable slowdowns, freezing, loss of data and other errors. Simply put, don't expect your device to work as smooth and stable as a non-jailbroken device.
Updates Will Break Your Jailbreak. Apple and the jailbreaking community is on a continuous cat and mouse game. If a certain firmware version has been jailbroken, you can trust that the exploit will be plugged in the next update. If you update, you will surely lose your jailbreak and all your jailbreak tweaks and apps will stop working. As a rule of thumb for jailbreakers, do not ever update your firmware version unless there is an available jailbreak solution for it.
May Compromise Security. The iOS's closed nature enables it to be one of the most secure mobile OS available. While jailbreaking does open your device for a new world of possibilities, it does render it susceptible to malicious content such as viruses and malware that can steal personal information or damage your device.
The Legality of Jailbreaking
As of July 2010, the act of jailbreaking and unlocking iPhones has been ruled by the U.S. government to be legal. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation or EFF, "reverse engineering is a fair use when done for purposes of fostering interoperability with independently created software". So no, you won't get yourself in trouble with the law if you jailbreak your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. But as stated earlier, Apple isn't exactly a fan of jailbreaking which explains why the company is so vocal with regards to opposing it. Apple may use technical countermeasures that will stop jailbreaking or prevent jailbroken devices from working but they will not be able to sue users over it. And as stated previously, your device warranty is void once it is found that has been jailbroken.
As you can see, jailbreaking does have its pros and cons. So before you jailbreak your device, you need to weigh in the advantages and benefits. Do you want to maximize the potential of your iOS device through jailbreaking? Or are you perfectly happy with what Apple has to offer? Hope we were able to answer your questions with regards to what is jailbreaking.Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback