Five Reasons to Jailbreak Your iPhone (if you haven’t already)

10 10 2008

By Spencer at 11:17 AM CST

Since the days of Installer and for iPhones version 1.1.1 (remember this?), I have maintained a jailbroken state on my iPhone. For those of you who don’t already know, jailbreaking is modifying the software on your iPhone to allow for custom apps and hacks. Jailbreaking, to me, is one of the most important features of the iPhone – it allows the end user to create a truly customizable experience that Apple just can’t (and won’t) top. Read on for my personal five reasons as to why you should jailbreak your iPhone.

1. Personalizing the interface for YOU.

If you’re like me, you may think that Apple’s icon and coloring scheme lacks a little something. It’s nice looking but certainly not as nice as it could be. However, there is a way to change all of that. Alongside jailbreaking comes the ability to change your active background, icons, status bar, dock, and everything else in between. In my example on the right, you see that I have customized it using the awesome “Why So Serious?” theme, which aligns perfectly with my love for Heath Ledger’s Joker. He not only changed the background to fit the full screen – he also modified the icons to go along with the color scheme, which gives us an attractive theme for everyday use of the iPhone. Using saurik’s open source Winterboard, a powerful iPhone graphics manipulator, you can change not only icons but the status bar (see my custom AT&T logo?), the look of the dock, sliders, and even have backgrounds transition in and out of different wallpapers, depending on the time of day. And speaking of the dock…

2. Can anyone say “Five Icon Dock?”

Only jailbreaking allows you to give your dock five icons, which alone is worth the (minimal) time and effort it takes to jailbreak your iPhone. Personally, I like putting Cydia – today’s Installer replacement, which is the source of custom apps and themes – down there, but many others’ favorites include the Text app and Calendar.

3. Tethering your iPhone to your laptop.

Did you own a Windows phone before and miss the ease in which you could tether your phone to your computer – either via Bluetooth or USB or whatever? The iPhone has had this ability to for a long time – it’s just gotten 10 times easier. Before, you needed to set up a SOCKS proxy in order to connect to the Internet on your computer through your iPhone – it took several steps and it wasn’t always completely reliable. RiP Dev’s Netshare, one of these SOCKS proxies, was available through the App Store for a spell but was eventually pulled by Apple, and even though other SOCKS proxies were available for free when you jailbroke your iPhone, it still was quite a fiddly, complicated process. Now, however, you have an app that allows you to do it easily: PdaNet. Created by June Fabrics, this new release of the iPhone allows you to connect to the Internet through your phone quickly and easily – simply set up an ad-hoc wireless connection and PdaNet does the rest! Unlike other SOCKS proxies, you don’t even need to keep the screen on. The only drawback? Heavily reduced battery life due to the use of the EDGE/3G network AND WiFi, but that’s what you have your Mophie Juicepack for. (Or you can just, you know, plug it into your computer.)

4. Two words: Taskbar Notifier.

When I first jailbroke my iPhone, back in the days before 2.x firmwares, I discovered an app known as Taskbar Notifier that showed me when I had an email, text, or missed call on the top right of my taskbar. When I bought my iPhone 3G and eventually jailbroke it, I missed this app dearly – I knew the transition would be hard. Instead of just pulling out my iPhone and quickly hitting the Wake Up button to check for those all important emails, I had to unlock the screen and search my screen to see if I had an email/missed call/whatever. Now, however, we have an even more powerful version of the app known as just Notifier. It was created by a different author, but it is even more improved over the old version because it doesn’t use a daemon (an application that runs in the background) to continuously poll for updates (which doesn’t show icons immediately after getting a text/email and also reduces battery life.) Why Apple doesn’t add this little feature to the firmware is beyond me, but at least it’s available to those who choose to jailbreak.

5. Root file system manipulation and terminal access.

The final and most important reasons are access to a command prompt and the entire iPhone file system. Without these things, we would not have the apps that we hold so dear to us. File system manipulation allows us to change, delete, add, and edit ANY file in the iPhone (but careful, we’re not liable for damages if you mess your iPhone up permanently!) and the terminal allows us to run command line instructions and programs. For normal users, this isn’t anything to write home about but for developers and hardcore Unix/Linux users, this is their bread and butter. After all, the iPhone is a Unix device at heart, so why shouldn’t we treat it as such?

There are countless other reasons to jailbreak your iPhone, including an expanded array of free games, unlocking your phone for use on other carriers, and Cycorder, a free video recorder, just to name a few. Your reasons for doing it are your own. However, I personally love having a device whose potential has been (almost) completely unlocked. And if you are afraid because you think big bad Apple will make a fuss and void your warranty, the process is easily reversible.  A simple restore will set your iPhone back to the way it was, and no one would be the wiser. So the real question becomes: what are you waiting for? Get to it! (For information on how to jailbreak your iPhone, you can visit this website, or simply type “jailbreak iPhone” into your favorite search engine.)




One response

9 11 2008

Unlock Apple iPhone ®
1.1.1 + 1.1.2 + 1.1.3 + 1.1.4 + 2.0
2.0.1 + 2.0.2 + 2.1 + 3g Version

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