Blog Post

Jailbreak: What iPhone OS 3.0 Means for Jailbreaking


iPhone OS, from its very first version to the current 2.2.1, lacks certain features that many users typically expect in a smartphone. Jailbreaking arose largely to address those shortcomings. With iPhone OS 3.0, Apple (s aapl) has made the first of what will surely be many waves to come that will rock the jailbreak boat.

Having used beta developer builds of iPhone OS 3.0 for a few weeks now, I believe that the release of iPhone OS 3.0 will eliminate a large number of reasons for which users have jailbroken their iPhones.

Of the hundreds of enhancements jailbreaking can bring, the popular ones are, arguably, unlocking the iPhone to accept SIM cards worldwide, SMS management, MMS, Internet tethering, the built-in camera, the Lock Screen, UI theming, and cut, copy and paste. So how do the new features in iPhone OS 3.0 stack up against their jailbreak counterparts? Let’s take a look.

Unlocking the iPhone

For those of you whose iPhones are locked to your respective carrier, sorry, you’ll still have to jailbreak 3.0 in order to unlock your device.



With iPhone OS 3.0, you can finally forward text messages, delete individual text messages, and read and compose text messages in landscape mode, functionality that would otherwise require third-party apps such as BiteSMS, iRealSMS or MySMS. But there is one feature, available in both BiteSMS and MySMS, that I miss in 3.0: Quick Reply.


When a text message comes in, BiteSMS pops up a floating alert dialog box that lets you send a reply to that message without quitting whichever application is currently running. It’s a huge convenience, and elegant, to boot.



Some swear by it, while others think its absence is a non-issue. Personally, I stand somewhere in the middle. If I am on a shoot somewhere out on location, and I need to get a photo across to someone quickly, MMS can be really useful. While some might argue that emailing would serve the same purpose, many recipients would much prefer receiving an MMS for the simple fact that not all cell phones have e-mail clients as capable as that of the iPhone. And you’d be surprised at how many cell phone users still do not have a data plan for push e-email and the such.

Internet Tethering

Remember the days when you would tether your cell phone to your laptop via a data cable, Bluetooth, or, horror of horrors, infrared? My old 2G Nokia cell phone did it, even if it was a measly 14.4K connection, so it was quite an inconvenience not being able to use my iPhone as a modem.


Internet tethering via USB or Bluetooth is built into 3.0. I’m happy to report that it just works (for now). I no longer require apps such as PdaNet or iPhoneModem, some of which cost quite a fair bit to purchase. But, as built-in HSPDA connectivity becomes increasingly ubiquitous in laptops, Internet tethering in the iPhone will eventually become irrelevant.


This is the one area that has not been improved upon in 3.0. The native Camera app still does not offer manual controls such as burst mode, slow shutter, or EV override, things that I, as a photographer, would like to have. On the hardware side, I would love to have auto-focus, something my other cell phone, an old Sony Ericsson, does very well. A full-featured camera app such as Snapture is, hence, still a very attractive incentive for jailbreaking.


Then, there is video recording. Cycorder is what I miss in my now-stock iPhone 3G. I do believe it is inevitable that video recording will make its way into the iPhone. Rumors floating around the Internet seem to strongly indicate that it could be as soon as the next hardware revision of the iPhone we’ll see this June. When that happens, the last of what I feel are the three key ‘jailbreak-worthy’ aspects of iPhone OS — video, Bluetooth file transfers, and cut/copy/paste — will be solved, as far as I’m concerned.

Lock Screen

All that screen real estate and nothing to show for it. Being a convert from Windows Mobile, which has a Today Screen that displays upcoming appointments and system notifications, the Lock Screen of iPhone OS is one area I really wish Apple would devote some attention to next. Of all the goodness I can get with jailbreaking, apps that enhance the Lock Screen are what I treasure most.


When I take a quick glance at the Lock Screen, I want to see information and not just album cover artwork or wallpaper. There is so much potential in what can go onto the Lock Screen. Calendar events, quick-dial for favorite contacts, detailed notifications for missed calls or incoming text messages, or even a preview of new mail — all of these are possible today on the jailbroken iPhone, courtesy of apps such as IntelliScreen and LockCalendar.


And, speaking of what I should see on the Lock Screen at a glance, I sorely miss Notifier, a Mobile Substrate hack that displays in the Date Bar notification icons for new mail, new messages, new IM messages, missed calls, and, especially useful, one for ringer mute.

UI Theming

The user interface plays such an important role in user experience that it is an area Apple will never relinquish control of. This is not a big deal for me, especially more so if it is at the expense of system responsiveness. But the sheer number of ugly themes created by users for WinterBoard, let alone those for other mobile platforms that freely allow theming, should be proof enough that it matters to some. On the iPhone, though, changing the wallpaper is still about as far as it goes…or Snow Leopard’s rumored ‘Marble’ interface at some point in 3.x. But full theming? Don’t hold your breath.

Cut, Copy and Paste

This is a big one. I still do not understand how some users can claim that the lack of cut, copy and paste is not a big deal to them. As someone who likes to write while commuting, the anemic ways in which iPhone OS 2.x lets me move bits of text around drove me to near insanity. Move a paragraph? Sorry, can’t do that. OK, how about something really simple, such as copying the name of a location from one Calendar event to another? Nope, no dice.


As I had stated in a previous post, cut, copy and paste in iPhone OS 3.0 addresses one of the biggest reasons I jailbroke my iPhone (and later, my iPod touch). Despite the best intentions behind jailbreak solutions such as hClipboard and Clippy, cut, copy and paste is really a low-level problem that only Apple can address satisfactorily, which it has in iPhone OS 3.0.


Going forward, I would love to see even more of what can be achieved only by jailbreaking in future versions of iPhone OS, namely enhancements to the Camera app and the Lockscreen. Even if there are no unannounced features hidden up Apple’s sleeve, and what we are seeing in the beta builds now is all there is, 3.x is clearly shaping up to be the first version of iPhone OS feature-rich enough that many users may no longer have a reason to continue jailbreaking their devices.

Will I jailbreak 3.0? I’m still on the fence. But, in using iPhone OS 3.0, the thought of sticking with a stock iPhone crossed my mind for the very first time, a thought that was simply unfathomable in the days of 2.x.

27 Responses to “Jailbreak: What iPhone OS 3.0 Means for Jailbreaking”

  1. tsukasatiger

    I’ll admit, I’m prolly still going to jailbreak, just for simple things like ikey extentions(I like the emote keys, notifier, and themeing. teathering is possible? how do you turn it on?

    if the spec leak from resent posts are true 600mhz!? among other thins is true, I will also be going for that phone but no intention of going to 3.1 whenthe time comes till jailbreak has been done.

  2. Tomas

    Is somebody here who can tell me how to jailbreak my iPhone? I am currently using the iPhone 3G 3.0 OS beta 4 (I think is 4).

    Thank you

  3. Clayton Lai


    I am the author of this post. You commented that “…. the author of this piece knows less about things and did far LESS research than even I did….”

    If you had actually done the research you claimed you did, you’d have known that there is currently no API for the Lock screen.

  4. Danveld

    I will no longer jailbreak.

    I will certainly miss Cycorder. But else my main reason for jailbreak was tethering. I don’t need 5 icons dock, nor custom background, nor any other eye candy change.

    I’m bit disappointed with the jailbreak community though. When I jailbreaked my phone, I was hoping for “Linux like community”. Free software made by users for users. I was very disappointed to see the many payed applications for jailbreaked phone (like for tethering, SMS etc. etc.). Basically any good one I wanted (except Cycorder!) was payed anyway. Thats what kills the very idea of jailbreaking for me. I don’t wish to participate on community which breaks Apple terms just to make $ from me….

    So actually few days I back I reverted to normal 2.2.1 and Im awating 3.0 with great expectations. I’m not going to jailbreak anymore as long as the situation described up in text remains.

  5. To log50: Apple’s MobileMe service is exactly what you’re talking about. If you don’t mind paying the annual fee of $100, you can sync contacts, emails (mobile me mail only), and calendar events over the air.

  6. Gazoobee

    Hey all, …

    Didn’t know about the lock screen prohibition and I used the word “illegal” euphemistically so as to say it easier than saying “un-approved jail-broken applications” or some such convoluted nonsense as that.

    My point is that the jailbreak community is shrinking fast, that the author of this piece knows less about things and did far LESS research than even I did (and you guys picked apart what I said), and that Apple seems to be specifically targeting the various “missing features” with each new firmware release.

    And no, I don’t work for Apple just because I don’t buy every mindless blog about jailbreaking. Most jailbreakers are kiddies, and most of them do it so they can steal stuff instead of paying for it.

    You can hate on me all you want but we all know it’s true.

  7. BloodCoveredSaint, if Gazoobee worked for Apple, he would be aware of the fact that there is, in fact, a prohibition on legitimite and approved apps making use of the lock screen.

    As for the rest of his comment, he’s right in that 3.0 will in fact eliminate many (but not all) of the reasons that people jailbreak today. Will it eliminate jailbreaking entirely? No. But it may shrink the jailbreak community just a bit.

    Maybe next time you make a comment, you’ll actually have something worthwhile to contribute.

  8. Allister

    Ben, you do know you can easily get into “half airplane mode” on a stock iPhone don’t you? Admittedly it’s not as convenient as being at the top of the screen at all times, but it’s not a feature unique to jailbreaking.

    • @Allister: Please share how you get into “half airplane mode” on a stock iPhone without jailbreaking. The only ways I know of are to remove the sim card or jailbreak.

      Just to be clear what we’re talking about, wifi on and functional while the cellular network radios (edge and 3g) are off.

    • Allister

      I’ve been doing this since I got my iPhone 3G on launch day. I’m pretty sure the 2G could do it too.

      1) Turn on Airplane mode (turns off all radios)
      2) Turn on Wi-Fi

      Kicking yourself yet? ;-)

  9. ServerNinja

    As long as Apple keeps such tight control on the public API and App Store submission process, developers will be making great software available through other means.

  10. José Puig

    Hello Clayton:
    I bought the very first version of the 8G iPhone and I unlocked it (but this allow me to used it only with AT&T – I couldn´t used it with other companies).

    I never connected to itunes o even my computer, fearing to lock or block the iPhone again.

    Right now, I want to install a lot of applications that are availables, but I want to ask you to orient me, please.

    -Could you tell me what I have to do and the order in which I should do it?
    -Do I have to upgrade the firmware – to which one (If I have the 1.0 version, do I have to install de 3G 2.2.1)?
    -How or where can I donwload applications?

  11. I’m stunned that sync’ed to-do’s don’t feature in 3.0 or that people don’t jump and down about it’s absence. I had the feature on my Palm Pilot frickin years ago. I don’t want a 3rd party app, I want OS level to-do sync from my desktop. I want to say it’s not much to ask, but I can’t believe it’s even an “ask” feature! Should just be there! p.s the phone is light years ahead in all other aspects.

  12. unless i’m mistaken, just because an app was denied access to apple’s app store doesn’t make it illegal. now, admittedly, i don’t have an iphone yet, i’m waiting for the new hardware, so, i haven’t done a ton of research into the legalities of apps not in the app store. i know the main reason i’d jailbreak is specifically to get access to those apps that aren’t allowed into the apple app store.

    once again, if i read the word “illegal” out of context here, then forgive me.

    anyway, i can’t wait to get my iphone, been a s60 and windows mobile user for years, so this’ll be quite a change. :D

  13. Gazoobee

    I have never jailbroken my iPhone, but as an “outsider” I have paid close attention to all the whining and the features that people think are “missing” from the iPhone that (supposedly) leads them to do it.

    It seems to me that by far the majority of the things in that category will be addressed by the iPhone 3.0 update and hardware in June/July. I would think that anyone with an objective thought about it would realise that the desire to jailbreak will go down rather dramatically after that.

    Also, some of the things in this article are a bit misleading.

    First, there are a couple of dozen *legal* camera apps for the iPhone and most of them do the things that the author mentioned his jail-broken one does.

    Secondly, the new 3.0 OS will allow for developers to link into the main programs on the iPhone like Address Book, Email, iPod, etc. so a lot of the apps that people think of as requiring jailbreaking are not going to require it anymore. Someone could easily write a “Today” app for instance that works exactly like the jailbreak one described. I’m not personally aware of any prohibition on using the log-on screen for anything but wallpaper. The reason that app had to be a jailbreak app is only because it (illegally at the time), hacks into the databases isn’t it?

    I know it’s just a blog, but you guys could do a little more thinking and a bit more research before you post too.

  14. I’ll continue to jailbreak until a feasible apple-approved app like SBSettings comes out. In any application, with a swipe of the top bar, I can adjust the brightness, toggle on or off the phone, the 3G, the wireless, and/or the bluetooth. That’s right, I can put the phone in “half-airplane” mode, and not receive calls but still join wireless networks, etc. Absolutely key for anyone who actually plans on using the Keynote remote for a professional presentation. Now I can’t be interrupted by a phone call.

    Another reason I’ll jailbreak is to keep Categories, which gives me a 2-page springboard (home screen) and files the apps into categories (games, productivity, fun, etc)

  15. Jennifer

    Soctty, no one really knows if there is new iPhone hardware coming out, but a refresh is expected in June, along with 3.0. Apple never really overtly announces these things until they actually come out.

  16. I will still jailbreak as long as there isn’t an option for Intelliscreen and QuickReply for SMS. Those two options save me SO much time on my phone that I can’t stand to not have them.

  17. Nice article! On the SMS front, a function of Nokias we all like here in Kenya is the “Delivery Reports”, which iPhone doesn’t offer (is there a app after jailbreak that does??)

    Our cell networks here are dodgy at best, so it’s nice to know the recipient received the text.