Reasons to Jailbreak your iPhone or iPad I never would have guessed I'd become such a fan of the iPhone, I never saw myself as much of a mobile phone user anyway. I originally bought an iPhone because I work in Apple IT Support and only needed one to stay up to speed with my clients who all seemed to own them. After having one for about three months I realised I was, to be frank, bored with it. It served its purpose okay as an phone and organiser and sure there were some cool apps available but I really wanted it to do more. I felt that this device had the potential to provide a service more akin to that of my computer. On a lazy Saturday afternoon I decided to take the plunge and downloaded a popular Jailbreak software to run on my iPhone 3G. Since then, from my point of view, the device truly began to live and breath. I should quickly explain that after the jailbreak is complete the user is left with their iPhone behaving and looking exactly as it did beforehand, the only difference being the addition of one new app called Cydia. Cydia, sometimes referred to as the alternative AppStore, is a repository for all the apps and tweaks that have been rejected by Apple for inclusion within it's own ofﬁcial outlet. Cydia, the app loaded with the Jailbreak, includes a program called APT the open source package manager familiar to all users of unix operating systems like GNU/Linux. APT downloads and installs all your unofﬁcial (unapproved by Apple) software onto your device. In no particular order I have listed below the most obvious reasons why I would recommend iPhone users to go against Apple's scare mongering and "Jailbreak" their iPhones. 1. Root Access - In a nutshell, jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad gives the user complete access and control over the ﬁle structure of their device, just as one would expect to have with a regular PC or Mac. Generally speaking, most users won't require all this power but it is there should it ever be needed. Having this amount of control could have negative consequences in the hands of somebody who doesn't understand what they're doing, however if the worst were to happen, they would simply be faced with restoring their device to its factory settings using iTunes. Just like on a regular PC, users who don't understand the operating system will rarely, if ever, venture into these unfamiliar areas. 2. Email Flexibility - What interests most people about jailbreaking is the possibility of adding extra features that Apple might never be include in an update. Take for instance restrictions on what you can or can't send via email from your iPhone. Apple only makes it possible to send images and text via email. You cannot send any other type of ﬁle as you would with your computer. Nor can you attach a group of different ﬁle types to your email. Apple only make it possible to send multiple attachments in the case of images within the photo album app. Using iFile, an application that provides your iPhone with a complete ﬁle browser, like the Finder or Windows Explorer, you can attach what you like and send what you like. 3. Wireless Networking - With a jailbreak you can transfer data to and fro between an iPhone and a computer by using secure FTP. Additionally, on Apple computers you can connect using the local network using Netatalk, an open source version of Apple's network protocol AFP, whereby the iPhone will be displayed in the ﬁnder as a shared computer. 4. Catagories - Before iOS 4 there were no folders in which to group your apps. Apps were merely spread across the iPhone's Home screen pages. "Catagories" changed this situation and provided the user with folders. Although this tweak is unnecessary for users of iOS 4, it is still very useful for owners of 3G and 3GS models who do not wish to upgrade to the new system which can slow down the performance of the device, the 3G iPhone in particular. 5. Browser Changer - Although there are several alternative browsers available from the AppStore, such as Mercury or Opera, you cannot conﬁgure your iPhone or iPad to use them as the default. Safari will remain the dominant browser, always being the one to launch whenever you click on a web address within any other application, such as Mail. Browser Changer adds a preference to the System Settings where the default can be changed to any other browser of your choosing. 6. biteSMS is an alternative SMS messaging app available from Cydia, which knocks the spots off the iPhone's in-built SMS program. biteSMS will let you continue you to use your regular service if messages are free of charge but it will automatically switch to the bite service for international messages when it becomes the cheaper option. Texting to foreign locations using my O2 service here in the UK costs 20p per text compared to 7p from the bite service. The biteSMS app is packed with extra features including smileys, Quick Reply & Compose, privacy, scheduled SMS, passcode lock, delivery reports and signatures. The Quick Reply and compose feature allows you to reply or send text messages directly from the Lock Screen without actually entering the SMS app. BiteSMS also allows you to deﬁne custom text alert sounds and allocate them to speciﬁc contacts. 7. Custom Text Tones - Following directly on the heels of biteSMS's ability to manage text tones I am reminded of another restriction easily overcome by Jailbreaking - adding custom text tones! Although you can add your own custom ringtones, Apple decided you cannot choose a custom text tone. Up until iOS 4.2.1 you had a choice of only six text sounds. Although that's been improved on with seventeen new ones, there's no provision for people like me who want to produce their own sounds? 8. Rotation Inhibitor - The ability to lock the rotation of the iPhone's screen has only just been included with iOS 4, however this feature has been available to jailbreakers for much longer. Reading emails lying in bed early in the morning is a pain when the page keeps ﬂipping onto it's side. Apple's method to lock and unlock the screen requires double clicking the home button, which is ﬁddly and inconvenient to employ. On the other hand, the rotation inhibitor toggle in the jailbreak tweak control "SB Settings", is almost perfect. 9. SB Settings from the BigBoss is a fabulously elegant solution to control many of the iPhone's background processes without the need to exit the app you're using to open the System Settings. With a swipe across the menu bar the SB Settings panel drops down like a roller blind displaying an array of toggle switches. Now, in seconds, you can switch on or off Wi-ﬁ, 3G, Edge, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, SSH, Screen Rotation and adjust screen brightness, all from within the app you're using. You can even quickly kill background process and free up your iPhone's memory, particularly useful for owners of earlier models with more limited memory. SB Settings doesn't stop there, it gives access to further tweaks such as hiding application icons on the Home Screen, it allows you to see your battery percentage and other information in your status bar and also provides a little dock onto which you can place speciﬁc apps you would rather weren't visible on the main pages. I don't want to go on further about SB Settings other than to say, there's more. 10. Music Controls Pro is a tweak that enhances the user experience when using a variety of music players available for the iPhone, whether it be the standard iPod app or another like Spotify. "Music Controls Pro" allows the user to engage with the player working in the background from within any other process being used or directly from the Lockscreen. Simply tap the screen or double click the home button and the music controls will appear onscreen and allow you to make changes with ease. Obviously this tweak is of most use to those who use the music player feature a lot. I, on the other hand, despite seeing the advantages, rarely use my iPhone for listening to music while travelling or a walking in the street, so I'm less likely to install this modiﬁcation especially as it costs $5.99. 11. Winterboard. Frankly I'm not really that mad about theming my iPhone but I can certainly appreciate why this is popular. To be completely honest I do run a small personalised theme on my iPhone but it's not dramatically different from the stock look. I started theming my iPhone before iOS 4, when there was practically no choice for personalisation. iOS 4 now provides separate user backgrounds for lock screen and home screen, which may be adequate for some people. However if you want say, a different icon set, lock screen slider or alternative system sounds then you're stuffed. The Winterboard app written by Jay Freeman, elegantly provides the means for you to make your iPhone look and feel just how you want it to. 12. Icon control - Of course there are some tweaks that I dislike or don't see a need for, like having ﬁve rows of icons on the Home Screen, it's just so ugly. However there is something to be said for having ﬁve icons in the dock or maybe the ability to have the dock itself scroll to include more icons. Inﬁnidock and Inﬁniboard are a couple of tweaks from a developer called Grant Paul otherwise known as 'chpwn'. Check out his selection of apps at the Cydia Store and see how they add an extra twist to your user interface. 13. Fullscreen Safari. If you like using Safari and don't want to move to another browser you can enhance it with this worthwhile tweak. As I've said before you could always download Mercury, a more sophisticated browser by far and then deﬁne that as your default. You really can't get the best out of Mercury until you're jailbroken. 14. Safari Download Manager. Does the average iPhone user realise that apart from the means to save images to your camera roll when using Safari, you cannot download anything else. With this tweak you can download whatever you want - music, computer programs, anything. Save items to your iPhone's ﬂash drive when you're out and about, then transfer them to your computer later on. This way you don't need to make a note to download something later on, when you get back home. You know you'll forget. 15. MxTube - On the subject of downloading, another thing that springs to mind is YouTube. As far as I know there is no app available on the App Store which allows you to download movies from YouTube which are saved on your iPhone. MxTube provides this ability and like many useful apps of this sort it's free. Mind you, you can donate via PayPal if you choose. 16. Freedom - another important point that shouldn't go without mention is that I do this because I enjoy having control over my own equipment. I understand the argument that states that while manufacturers lock down their OSs there is no risk their products will be compromised by malware but on the other hand while users are restricted in the way I see Apple doing, genuine technological innovation is stiﬂed. When I hand over my hard earned money in exchange for a device, I consider it to be mine, to do with as I please. The jailbreaking scene is fascinating and fun it takes me back to how I remember the days when I began to use my ﬁrst computer. I am amazed at the guys who do the work, who're often kids. They're dedicated to the challenge and want to produce the smartest tools possible for the job. They run the same software on their own devices, so logic suggest they wouldn't want to damage their own iPhones any more than I would. Some might think that these extra abilities don't really add up to anything signiﬁcant but I would challenge anybody who has lived with a jailbroken iPhone for even a short time to return to the basic unit. I don't think they would last long. All the Best, Charlie Footnote - Many articles appearing in the press or in the media, paint a picture of jailbreak enthusiasts as evil software pirates, only interested in stealing the bread from the mouths of struggling developers. I must make it clear that so called 'software piracy' is something I do not endorse or encourage, nor does any of the hard core of Jailbreakers. Although it is possible to use your Jailbreak to acquire cracked apps and run them on your iPhone, that is not the purpose of jailbreaking. There has always been and always will be a mind set that gets a thrill from cracking and redistributing licensed software. These activities cannot be stopped by imposing stupid laws that restrict everybody else's rights. The software industry always claim they're losing millions of dollars every year on account of software piracy but it is a mere fantasy to speculate that without piracy the manufacturers would have sold any more units than they already have. I don't see any reason to imagine that the people responsible for uploading and downloading cracked apps would automatically agree to buy expensive software titles if suddenly torrent and ﬁle sharing sites were closed down. Those minds will always ﬁnd a way to do what they do. People who understand that work needs to be paid for sometimes are usually willing to pay.
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