You’ve probably heard the term before: “jailbroken iPhone” or seen people discussing it in other forums. However, if you don’t know what it is but you do own either an iPhone or iPod Touch then you should at least familiarize youself with what it is or does. This post will not show you how to do it, rather my intentions here are to educate people about it and the ins and outs of jailbreaking.
The iPhone and iPod Touch are closed platforms, meaning they are not open for you to do whatever you want with them. When you activated your device, you agreed to abide by Apple’s rules, by only using your device in a manner that is approved by it’s manufacturer. In short, jailbreaking your device is the antithesis of this agreement, breaking it out of Apple’s “jail.”
Apple continues to make news with their App Store as they approve some pretty crazy apps while denying others into the app store. In fact, recently all Google Voice apps were pulled from the app store even after they had been allowed for multiple months. The whole purpose behind the jailbreak movement is to free your device from Apples tight, controlling grip and allow you to do things with it that are not approved or sanctioned by Apple. One classic example of this is installing apps that are not part of the Apple App Store. Another very common practice for jailbreaking is the process of unlocking your iPhone to use it on another carrier. In order to perform the unlock, the device must first be jailbroken.
There are various groups of hackers out there that pride themselves in continuing to defeat Apple’s efforts to thwart the jailbreaking and unlocking communities. After all, Apple has a vested interest in keeping the device closed and operating solely within their guidelines. Some of these interests would include the revenue from apps that would only be distributed on the App Store but also the ability to ensure that apps that you are installed have at least passed Apple’s sniff test for quality. They also want to make sure that the iPhone, which is locked to AT&T here in the U.S. stays on the AT&T network, since they would likely earn more money from the AT&T exclusivity agreement. There are also countless other reasons why Apple would want the devices closed, but I wont get into any further reasons on this post since this is more of an introduction to Jailbreaking.
Jailbreaking is in no way supported by, endorsed by or even sanctioned by Apple. In fact, when you activated your device you agreed to the End User License Agreement and in that agreement, you agreed not to modify the device or software installed on it. You also agreed that in the event that you do decide to modify either that your warranty is null and void at that moment. The reason for this is that Apple doesn’t want to be responsible for you messing up your device through unauthorized modifications. So if your jailbreak or unlock “bricks” your device it’s you who’s responsible, not Apple. You can’t come crying to them for a warranty replacement.
The other significant drawback to jailbreaking your device is software upgrades. Apple releases frequent iPhone and iPod Touch software upgrades. In nearly every software upgrade thus far, Apple has taken steps to close the hole in which the jailbreaking community gains access to the device. So, whenever there’s a new firmware update, you’re device will be set back to Apple’s closed platform and you’ll have to wait until the hackers out there release a new version of the jailbreak. This can be somewhat overcome if you wait to upgrade your device until the new jailbreak is released. However, the cat and mouse game can be tiresome and tedious to follow and keep up with.
We should also remember that jailbreaking and upgrading are not bullet proof. Shortly after the release of the original iPhone in 2007 the jailbreaking and unlocking community were having a field day with the iPhone. Unlocked iPhones were being sold on eBay at significantly higher prices to markets around the world that did not yet have the device. In Octover of 2007 Apple released a firmware update and with it, a stern warning to unlockers that their precious iPhones would become inoperable if the update was applied to an unlocked device. As you can well imagine, many people’s iPhone’s were turned into “i-bricks” by the update. Apple later relented and released another update that reversed the bricking and restored the phone to a locked status, but this is clear evidence that playing in the jailbreak world can be risky.
The pros of jailbreaking are pretty enticing. One of the Google Voice apps that was recently pulled from Apple’s App Store showed up on Cydia (the app installer used to install apps on jailbroken iPhones and iPods) today, just a day after Apple pulled it from their App Store it showed up on the “underground” app store. Also via Cydia can you get true, run in the background applications – a feature that Apple has thus far refused to open to “legit” developers. Jailbreak developers are not bound by Apple’s terms, hence you can find some pretty decent apps in the “grey” market.
A word of caution. If you are contemplating jailbreaking your iPhone or iPod Touch then we would caution you in doing so. While the jailbreaking community has tried to make the process easy and seamless it is not without it’s risks and problems. If you are not technically savvy then we’d recommend you just stay away altogether. However, if the warnings of jailbreaking don’t have you scared away then Google is your friend in finding more information.
Note: Here at AppChatter.com we do not support nor endorse the practice of Jailbreaking your iPhone or iPod Touch (none of our devices are or have been jailbroken) and issue this warning: Jailbreak at your own risk! If you render your device inoperable it is your responsibility and nobody else’s.