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Op-Ed: Preserve Your iDevice's Jailbreak, Turn A Blind Eye To iOS 7

Apple's anticipated iOS 7 is set to be released on Wednesday, Sept. 18, however this situation presents jailbreakers with a difficult decision: either they update to the new operating system and sacrifice their iDevice's precious jailbreak, or they hold off on updating until a new, iOS 7-compatible jailbreak solution becomes available. Though some jailbreakers may be tempted to grab the seventh iteration of Apple's iOS as soon as it's available for public consumption, in this article AppAdvice considers the alternative, and investigates why many users will instead turn a blind eye to iOS 7 until it can be complemented with the one feature Apple won't ever willingly add to its iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch: the Cydia Store app.

Apple's iOS 7 borrows a lot from the jailbreak community ...

[caption id="attachment_462115" align="aligncenter" width="642"] Apple's iOS 7 takes aim at a number of jailbreak apps and tweaks.[/caption] It's no secret that Apple's iOS 7 is something a serial software killer. Already, the mobile OS has taken aim at a number of third-party iOS applications, and pulled the trigger. These include Onavo, Bump, Mailbox, Pandora, and a whole load of flashlight and calculator apps, all of which face an uncertain future now iOS 7 is in the pipeline. But that's not all. After speaking with iOS developers and digging around iOS 7's beta software releases, a subsequent article of ours demonstrated how iOS app killing is merely collateral damage: Apple's taking aim alright, but its real target is the jailbreak scene, and the countless jailbreak apps, tweaks, and themes which persuade iDevice users to hack their smartphones and tablets each and every year. [caption id="attachment_462130" align="alignleft" width="238"] Apple is aiming to suppress the desire to jailbreak itself.[/caption] During the course of our research we discovered that a huge 16 jailbreak tweaks have been incorporated within Apple's iOS 7. These include Clockify, which has been replaced by the on-board "live clock" in Apple's mobile OS, and both Auxo and Dash, which seem redundant now Apple's iOS 7 has enhanced multitasking. Changes to the way Apple's mobile operating system handles iOS app folders means FolderEnhancer and InfiniFolders, two popular jailbreak tweaks, are no longer needed; at the same time, UnlockFX, vWallpaper 2, DeepEnd, and many more packages have had their core functionality incorporated within iOS 7. In fact, so much from the Cydia Store has found its way into iOS 7 that certain iDevice owners have even gone so far as to ask whether the need for new jailbreak solutions is as important as it used to be. In essence, the question goes: With so many popular jailbreak tweaks incorporated within the forthcoming software, is there even a need for an iOS 7 jailbreak?

... but the jailbreak community still has a lot to offer

The answer to that question, unequivocally, is: yes. Of course, certain jailbreak tweaks have clearly been made redundant by iOS 7. But the Cydia Store still offers countless impressive and rich pieces of software which are entirely unparalleled in Apple's forthcoming mobile OS. In the wake of iOS 7, then, it's important to remember exactly what the jailbreak community can still offer iDevice owners, before jailbreakers are faced with the crucial decision outlined at the beginning of this article.


Developed by Ryan Petrich (@rpetrich), Activator is arguably one of the most popular jailbreak tweaks available in the Cydia Store, and so far, it's proved to be something Apple's iOS can't touch. [caption id="attachment_462160" align="alignleft" width="180"] Activator.[/caption] Activator allows iDevice users to assign functions to "actions" performed on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. An action, for example, can be a double-press of the Home button, a double-tap of the status bar, or a long-press on an iDevice's screen, and functions can include application launches, iDevice toggles, and more. Not only does Activator make using an iDevice a whole lot easier, but additional jailbreak tweaks often launch with Activator functionality added right in. Activate Link, for example, supports Activator, and allows iDevice users to launch particular Web pages through preassigned actions. Activator is a must-have jailbreak tweak for any jailbroken iDevice user, and it's something Apple most certainly hasn't killed off with iOS 7.


Like Activator, biteSMS is a hugely popular jailbreak application. [caption id="attachment_462185" align="alignright" width="160"] biteSMS.[/caption] However, instead of adding a brand new feature to Apple's iOS, biteSMS instead sets out to radically improve one aspect of Apple's mobile OS that hasn't seen much in the way of innovation these past few years: the Messages app. After installing the jailbreak application, users can enjoy taking advantage of a number of new messaging features on an iPhone handset. These include "Quick Compose" and "Quick Reply," which provide users with a pop-up box for incoming and outgoing messages. This in turn allows iPhone users to send and receive SMS messages, MMS messages, and iMessages without having to launch the built-in Messages app. Further features include scheduled messaging, delivery reports for SMS messages, and a passcode lock, all of which are included in biteSMS.


[caption id="attachment_462144" align="alignright" width="184"] DreamBoard.[/caption] Apple's iOS 7 might add a fancy new design to our iDevices, but jailbreakers have long been able to enjoy something far better: theming. DreamBoard, WinterBoard, and jailbreak theming applications most generally allow iDevice owners to cater the appearance of Apple's mobile OS to their own unique taste. There are DreamBoard and WinterBoard jailbreak themes which can make iOS 6 look like iOS 7, like a paint-doodle, or even like an Android smartphone. It's easy to switch between different themes, meaning jailbreakers can radically alter the appearance of their iDevice depending on their present mood, and additional DreamBoard- and WinterBoard-compatible jailbreak themes are being released in the Cydia Store all the time - most of which are free to download.


One feature you can bet Apple will never add to its iOS is access to the operating system's file system. However, this is precisely what one jailbreak application - iFile - grants users. [caption id="attachment_462195" align="alignleft" width="160"] iFile.[/caption] Once downloaded and installed, iDevice users will be able to browse through their smartphone or tablet's file system while on the go. Though iFile isn't recommended for those with little knowledge of how the iPhone's root directory works, the possibilities of what one can achieve with the jailbreak application are indeed vast. For example, with iFile it's possible for users to copy, edit, and rename files on their iDevice, to install software packages, and even to turn their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch into a flash drive.


MapsOpener is the kind of simple (but nevertheless essential) jailbreak tweak that alters one specific, preexisting aspect of Apple's mobile OS. [caption id="attachment_462202" align="alignleft" width="144"] Google Maps.[/caption] In this case, once MapsOpener is downloaded and installed, Google Maps is established as the default maps application. This means that launching maps links in Safari for iOS, for example, will open them in Google Maps, not Apple's own Maps app. Given the amount of hassle some iDevice users had with Apple's in-house Maps software, this is clearly a useful jailbreak tweak - albeit one Apple would never consider officially incorporating within its iOS.


[caption id="attachment_462170" align="alignright" width="200"] NoNewsIsGoodNews.[/caption] Sure, it's possible to hide Newsstand away in a folder in iOS 7. But for some, that's not enough. For some, Newsstand - which iDevice users seem either to love or hate - has to go, and there's only one way to achieve this: NoNewsIsGoodNews. Once downloaded and installed, NoNewsIsGoodNews will make the Newsstand icon disappear on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. It's as simple as that. There are no additional settings to configure, and the jailbreak tweak won't affect the iOS in any other way. Jailbreaking really is the only way iDevice owners can get rid of the Newsstand icon: it's still there in iOS 7, even if it's had a minimalistic makeover.


Though Apple has attempted to borrow from SBSettings with its pop-up Control Center toggle, there is one major downside to Control Center that renders it inferior to its jailbreak counterpart: a lack of customization. [caption id="attachment_462199" align="alignleft" width="204"] SBSettings.[/caption] You'll notice that a trend is beginning to emerge here, and that trend is that the jailbreak community is largely based, in some form or other, around removing the barriers Apple places between free developer innovation and its iOS. This particularly centers around modes of customization, which encompass custom actions (Activator), theming (DreamBoard and WinterBoard), iOS app hiding and removal (NoNewsIsGoodNews), and more. As such, while SBSettings provided users with toggles for Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and flashlight years before Apple added Control Center in iOS 7, the jailbreak tweak also allows users to add additional toggles using the Cydia Store. Developers can create SBSettings toggles of their own, add them to a Cydia repository, and iDevice users can download and install them to SBSettings on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Given Apple's track record, it's highly unlikely that users will be able to customize Control Center anytime soon, rendering SBSettings another "invincible" jailbreak tweak.

Is your decision made?

It's clear, then, that the jailbreak community offers iDevice users a whole lot more than the features Apple "borrowed" and added in iOS 7. But are they reason enough to hold off on updating to iOS 7 in order to preserve an iDevice's jailbreak? [caption id="attachment_462218" align="alignright" width="192"] Can it be done?[/caption]

Jailbreaking iOS 7

The good news for jailbreakers in this situation, however, is that a jailbreak solution for iOS 7 might not even be that far away. It's common knowledge that iOS 7 can indeed be jailbroken: acclaimed jailbreak developer Ryan Petrich (of Activator fame, as mentioned above) posted the image of a jailbroken iOS 7-powered iPhone running his Activator jailbreak tweak not long ago. Though there's a big difference between jailbreaking a single iDevice and creating a usable jailbreak tool for the masses, following the release of iOS 7 Gold Master (GM) the team of iOS hackers known as "evad3rs" announced that the hunt for exploits in Apple's forthcoming mobile OS had begun. Soon after, one team member confirmed that promising progress had so far been made, which is obviously good news for jailbroken iDevice users. Finally, prominent iOS hacker @pod2g announced in a Twitter update that he's feeling "confident about an iOS 7 public jailbreak," but added that this doesn't mean such a jailbreak solution will be available soon.

Here's hoping ...

Here's hoping, then, that an iOS 7 jailbreak doesn't take too long to develop. Though of course, putting together a next-generation jailbreak tool is easier said than done. In the meantime, iDevice users will either have to abandon their jailbreak for the attractive shores of iOS 7, or be patient. [caption id="attachment_462243" align="aligncenter" width="300"] It might look greener, but does it taste sweeter?[/caption] So, which side of the fence are you occupying? For our recent iOS 7 related news, see: Developer Updates Puffin Web Browser With An Important Message For iOS 7 UsersHigh Profile iOS 7-Ready Apps Include Facebook, Twitter, Path And PayPal, and Here's How Twitter Reacted To The iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c And More. For recent news concerning the jailbreak community, see: Promising Progress Made On iOS 7 Gold Master Jailbreak, Hacker ClaimsHackers Now Investigating iOS 7 Gold Master For Potential Jailbreak Exploits, and Cydia Tweak: Anemo May Be The Quick Reply Tweak That You've Been Waiting For.
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