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Why Jailbreak: iOS 4

July 12, 2010

On July 10, 2007, a very important exploit to the hacker community was invented; it's called an iPhone "Jailbreak". Ever since that day, the term "jailbreaking" has been used so much I wouldn't be surprised if I found it in the next edition of Webster's dictionary.

Jailbreaking has served many purposes since it was first introduced. With the original iPhone and iPod touch, it was used to enable playing the first third-party game (before the App Store was ever even announced). After that, Apple and hackers have been playing a game of cat and mouse. Apple patches up the exploits and the hackers make new ones. With iOS 2 and 3, jailbreaking allowed users to have a fully customizable user interface, install applications that weren't allowed on the App Store, run applications in the background, and tweak the operating system. The two most important reasons for users to jailbreak their iOS devices are most likely the following: Multi-tasking and Home Screen backgrounds. With these two features added into iOS 4, what is the importance of jailbreaking now? Here is a list of reasons why we think jailbreaking can still be valuable to you as an iOS user:

Reason 1: True Multi-tasking

When Apple released "multi-tasking", many users might have thought it would allow an application to literally remain running in the background. Unfortunately, Apple did not allow this. Instead they released seven multi-tasking services. They consist of the following:
  • Background audio
  • Voice over IP
  • Background location
  • Push notifications (introduced in iOS 3)
  • Local notifications
  • Task finishing
  • Fast app switching
As you can see, Apple allows the backgrounding of many services such as audio, location, and even VoIP, but alas, they decided not to allow what I would call “true” multi-tasking. This is where jailbreaking can come in and save the day. The Cydia application “Backgrounder” allows apps to truly run in the background when it's enabled for each app. You can use "Backgrounder" with tweaks that let you switch applications in style such as “Circuitous” and “Kirakae.” Together these apps combine to allow true backgrounding in style, something native iOS 4 desperately needs.

Reason 2: Fully Customizable User Interface and Operating System

Don't get me wrong, the iOS UI is great. But, users want to be able to customize more fully. iOS 4 came with backgrounds, but let's face it, there is always a new feature users want. With jailbreak applications such as Winterboard, users can apply various themes and tweaks. SBSettings (with the help of Activator) also helps improve the user interface by adding a pull down title bar, similar to the one on Android devices. Jailbreaking can help add various tweaks to make your iPhone more personal, as well as easier to use.

Reason 3: Cydia/Rock Applications

The App Store is by far one of the best features of iOS, sporting over 275,000 applications, but not every application submitted is approved. When a developer's app doesn't get approval, they might decide to take it to Cydia (or Rock); jailbreak apps that allows users to download and install tweaks, themes, apps, etc. There are several fantastic Cydia/Rock applications such as GV Mobile (a Google Voice client) and Wi-Fi Sync (an application that allows a device to sync with iTunes wirelessly), but there is one application that makes jailbreaking worth it all by itself. That application, and one I want to tell you about, is: MyWi (4.0). MyWi is outstanding, allowing users to tether their iPhone to another device via Bluetooth or USB, as well as the ability to create a wireless hotspot from the iPhone itself. The best part about this? You don't need the over-priced tethering plan from AT&T or other carriers. Although you have to be careful with how much you tether as to not go over your data limit, this application has come in handy for me on several occasions. To help you avoid going over your limit, the application will show you exactly how much data you have transferred while tethering. The application is only $10, a small price to pay for such a great utility. It is available in the Rock jailbreak store here. These are just three of the main reasons users may want to jailbreak. Overall, jailbreaking is still worth it, though it may not be quite as useful as it was in the past.

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