Monday, April 16, 2012

Jailbreaking Your Phone

A few years ago one of my students told me he had "jailbroken" his iPhone. This sounded like something dangerous or illegal, so I wasn't really interested. He insisted that it was safe, legal, and amazing, but I was happy with my phone and just wasn't interested in modifying it based upon the advice of a teenager.

Over the next couple of years I began reading more about jailbreaking phones and eventually became convinced that it would be worth trying.

I am glad I did.

Jailbreaking is done for many reasons. Back when iPhones were only available to AT&T customers, many would jailbreak them to enable their use on other networks. Others, like me, do it to access the many amazing apps, tweaks, and themes available through Cydia. Think of Cydia as the jailbreakers' App Store. Instead of being locked into only purchasing apps through Apple, jail breaking allows users customize their phones in many cool ways.

For example, I can change the look of my icons. I now have rows of five apps rather than four. I have purchased apps that allow me to display my screen out to a tv or projector. Another app I purchased allows me to record what is on my screen. There is an app that allows you to download YouTube videos to your phone. My3G allows you to use FaceTime on a 3G network.

None of this may sound interesting to you. If you are perfectly content with your phone, there is no reason to jailbreak it. If you are like me, however, having the ability to customize your phone and make it even more useful is just too enticing.

So are you ready?

Here's what you need to know.

The Good

  1. Jailbreaking is fairly easy.
  2. Jailbreaking is typically reversible. Make sure to backup everything on iTunes before you begin. That way you can restore your phone if you decide you want to go back.
  3. Jailbreaking is legal.
  4. Jailbreaking is free.
  5. Jailbreaking will allow you to do a lot of neat new things with your phone.
The Bad
  1. Jailbreaking voids your warranty
  2. Some of the apps on Cydia may have bugs that will need to worked out. These apps do not go through as rigorous a screening process as those on the App Store.
  3. Some people have experienced problems with jailbroken phones requiring a complete restoration.
  4. Some have security concerns regarding malware. I have never experienced this.
  5. Some people don't take the time to learn how to fully utilize the new features. You will need to take some time to familiarize yourself with Winterboard and be patient with respringing.
  6. If Apple releases an update to the iOS, you will not be able to upgrade without "unjailbreaking" your phone. You will have to wait until they have created a jailbreak for the update. 
If you decide to go ahead with a jailbreak, you will need to make sure you run the correct jailbreak for the iOS version you are currently running. If you have updated to 5.1 there is only a tethered jailbreak available right now. That means that you would have to connect your iPhone to your computer each time you needed to reboot. That is a pain. 

Make sure you read all of the instructions in detail and be prepared to restore your phone if there is a problem.

Ultimately, I feel like it was definitely worth it. I cannot guarantee you will feel the same way or have the same experiences.

With that said, if you are ready go to http://www.jailbreakme.com/

If you have any questions, e-mail me at schollt@cerra.org