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Jailbreak: A New Column

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There are many aspects of the iPhone that I wish were more developed. Better usability. Time-saver shortcuts. Visual enhancements. Missing functionality. We each have our own list of what is missing, what we would love to have, and what we would love to see in a future iPhone OS update. While I am confident Apple will meet expectations eventually, I, along with thousands of other like-minded individuals, am not going to sit around and wait.

So I have a confession to make: I jailbroke my iPhone 3G the day I got my hands on it, and I’m liking it so much I’m never going back.

The thing is this, I form a bond with every gadget I own. For a device such as a cell phone, something you have on you almost 24/7, it seems only natural that you will grow into both the way it works and its various quirks. For the latter, you either learn to live with it or find a workaround for it. The casual user will most likely live with what is offered out of the box, while the power user and the adventurous will pursue new and novel ways to suit their devices to their ever-increasing needs.

On the Mac, it is very easy to go out and look for the right application that will do exactly what the OS does not. On the iPhone, where the platform is fragile and hence rightfully closed, the hard part is waiting for Apple to figure things out. In the meantime, there are the hundreds of clever workarounds that independent developers — iPhone owners and enthusiasts themselves — have devised. The catch is that you will have to jailbreak, which Apple certainly does not endorse.

I was inspired to write about jailbreaking after having several casual conversations I had with other iPhone owners. I was surprised at the amount of fear, uncertainty and doubt some of them had regarding jailbreaking. Some didn’t know what it was, while others had heard of it, but had dismissed it due to what they perceived as black art, complex and mysterious. But really, just as it has always been, is, and will be on any other computing platform, with enhancements and new functionality come certain caveats. Just do your homework, follow the instructions and you’ll be fine.

This post is an introduction to a regular iPhone jailbreaking column I will be penning, one that will include everything from reviews of applications to tips and techniques. Regardless of whether you are an iPhone owner who has yet — but is looking to — jailbreak your iPhone, or an enthusiast who’s already hacked your iPhone, I hope there will be something for everyone. And if there is anything you would like to see in a future post, do drop me a line.

Coming up next: Five Things You Need to Know About Jailbreaking. Stay tuned!

13 Responses to “Jailbreak: A New Column”

  1. Robert Soakes (#10), why Jailbreak?

    Because when my home internet service goes down, I can use an app to wirelessly use my iPhone’s 3G connection to get internet access on my laptop.

    Because if I’m in the mood, I can change the look and feel of my iPhone, its apps, wallpaper, dock, etc.

    I can “stack” my docked icons and have them spring up when I touch them!

    So I can use a free GPS app which offers voice turn-by-turn directions.

    So I can create categories for my apps, complete with folders, to help clean up all of these freakin apps!

    MMS is nice.

    NES emulator with just about every Nintendo game ever made. ’nuff said.

    Landscape-mode SMS with Quick Reply, for when I’m on a call or in another app.

    A Contact List with photos next to the names.

    These are reasons just off the top of my head. I might turn on my iPhone and see what I’ve missed…

  2. robertsoakes

    Interesting idea for a column. I look forward to future entries. But as you do so, please expound on why jailbreaking is the &%#$. I jailbroke my iPod touch about six months ago, spent a day looking at some of the utilities, had a big “meh” moment and went back to using the blessed and “official” programs from the App store. What’s cool, what’s not? I jailbroke the iPod touch for the most important of dork reasons: because I could. I’d actually like to know why everyone raves about their jailbroken gidgets. Please, illuminate me!

  3. I jailbroke my original iPhone 2G before the App Store and it made a huge difference. Since the App Store, I haven’t had the same interest. Last weekend I jail broke my iPhone 3G and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve added the 5 row keyboard, with cursor keys!, and the 5 icon Dock, and, of course, the local terminal and command line tools. It makes a great phone even better.

  4. The Digital Alchemist

    I jailbroke my two iPhones about a month ago… well, OK, I had a guy that actually knew what he was doing jailbreak my phones about a month ago. Up until then I had had a real love/hate thing going on with my iPhones. I really hated not having access to full web sites and always getting shunted to mobile useless versions (I’m looking straight at you and!). Jailbreaking fixed that problem handily. After all wasn’t that what apple promised in their commercial – “just the internet”? Other than adding a couple of must have type programs, like Winterboard and the holy grail for iPhones: Copy/Paste, thanks to hClipboard, I have had to really resist loading other JB apps because of stability concerns. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t read a lot about jailbreaking and the great apps that JB affords me.

    I look forward to reading your future articles. It might be timely to see your thoughts about the new Cydia Store that was just announced today – kind of a karma thing, no?

    On a semi-related note, I am looking to hire an experienced developer to write a small app for my jailbroken iPhones if you happen to know any. I will pay them well.

    Thank you and good luck! :)

    P.S. I would have used an emoji smiley face but apple says that isn’t legal for me to do either.


  5. Couldn’t be a more perfect time. I’m a power user on my XP machine and my Macbook Pro. I am about to buy my first iPhone and am very interested in all these powerful and interesting things people do… but have been put-off precisely because it sounds like voodoo to jailbreak a phone. I’m exactly the kind of person who is very interested but leary of the whole process and any ramifications. I eagerly await these articles!

  6. fifth gear

    @prasoon – yes & yes

    @david B – there are 2 simple workarounds to get your iphone into dfu on the new unibody macbooks. see the dev team blog takes 3mins. or get a powered usb adapter. easy.

  7. Good idea for a series. I’ve jailbroken my iPhone 3G in the past, but after I bought a uni MacBook, I’ve had no way to jailbreak again. It seems like I could still jailbreak on my Windoze BootCamp partition, then continue syncing on my OS X side; an article explaining the feasibility of such a venture would be greatly appreciated!

  8. Prasoon

    Just two questions – (Assuming you have an iPhone 3G)
    1. Can it be brought back to original state after jailbreak?
    2. Can it brought back to original state after beng unlocked? (iPhone Dev team yellowsnow in picture here)

    Is it as simple as burning the original Apple Firmware to bring it back?

  9. HobbesDoo

    Looking forward to the next articles. I’m always thinking of jailbreaking my phone, but I’m always concerned about stability. Right now if something goes wrong I can go straight to Apple for help, but if I jailbreak the phone and something happens, what then? These and other things would be interesting to see in a future article.

  10. BlackSmp

    Can only agree. Almost a perfect phone/tool out of the box but jailbreaking adds a few tweaks that enhances it closer to perfection.

    Also looking forward to the follow-up articles

  11. WOO HOO!! Great post.

    I was one of those who waited forever. Not sure why though. Maybe fear of the unknown. Lack of mobile OS knowledge. Either way, I made the jump and it was as easy as tying my own shoes. A few clicks and it’s done. Couldn’t have been easier and the results couldn’t be more awesome.

    I have no idea how I even enjoyed my iPhone 3G before Jailbreaking it. I mean, it’s a great phone out of the box. But it’s almost perfect once Jailbreaked (Jailbroken?)

    Highly, HIGHLY recommended.

    Looking forward to the follow-up articles.