JailbreakMe 3.0: 11 really good reasons to jailbreak your iPhone, iPad
JailbreakMe 3.0 liberates your iOS device in 10 seconds. It's time to take a look at the jailbreak community's recent efforts and see if the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
I've gone in and out of the jailbreak game over the past couple of years: starting with the iPhone 2G, I was tempted by the "dark side" largely thanks to the benefit of unlocking my phone and using another carrier while overseas.
In the end, I simply abanonded jailbreaking as I didn't have the time to regularly check if a jailbreak was available for firmware update X.Y, if it broke anything, if it was tethered or untethered and especially which of the tools (redsn0w, Sn0wBreeze, PwnageTool...) worked flawlessly. Furthermore, about 90% of Cydia's repository (which is the jailbreaking counterpart to Apple's App Store) consisted of trashy UI add-ons, ringtones, games and weird apps that lacked any sort of visual consistency. Still, there was always a set of apps that drew me back...
JailbreakMe 3.0 – The 10-second jailbreak
Once in a while, I like to check up on the jailbreaking community and see what's going on. This is one of these times. JailbreakMe 3.0, released by hacker "comex," is done in seconds and supports all Apple iOS devices running the latest firmware 4.3.3 -- there's no modding the firmware required as it simply uses a vulnerability in the PDF rendering system that Apple hasn't yet patched as of this date (see #3 to fix it yourself, now). It's an easy entrance into the world of jailbeaking.
And despite the fact that Cydia is still cluttered and convoluted, there is that handful of killer applications that will never see the light of day on Apple's App Store and will make you want to jailbreak now.
Obligatory warning: "Hacking" into your iOS device has its pros and cons: Jailbreaking brings its own set of potential risks, such as bricking your device (which I rate as pretty low due to the nature of this jailbreak -- but create a backup nonetheless!) and even voiding warranty (all detailed here), which makes it a no-go for most businesses. Still, there are some very good reasons (for individual users) to jailbreak and make their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch more useful than ever. Curious? Here are my picks and top reasons to jailbreak your Apple device:
1. Native 3G tethering at no charge: MyWi 4.0
This is an essential tool for the mobile road warrior: MyWi turns your iPad into a mobile hotspot and shares its 3G connection with all WiFi capable devices. When I'm on the go, I simply create a hotspot on my iPad 3G and connect my laptop to it. The developer recently raised MyWi's price to $19.99, but I believe it's still worth the trouble if you're traveling a lot (AT&T users beware, though).
2. Wireless syncing: Don't wait for iOS 5
Wi-Fi Sync lets you sync your iOS device over the air -- a great relief for those hating to run up to a computer and hook up a cable to have all their data up-to-date. It requires a (very small) client running in the background and -- of course -- installing the app via Cydia. (Note: Apple plans to deliver this functionality in iOS 5, slated for release in autumn this year. If you absolutely can't wait and don't mind spending $9 for this comfort, Wi-Fi Sync is your solution.)
Also, there's a beta version of Swype. Kind of wonky, but single finger SMSing is still nice.
3. Patching exploits faster
While jailbreaking itself is a risky process, it also has potential security benefits: usually, Cydia users get security fixes much faster, as was the case with the PDF exploit (which made JailbreakMe 3.0 possible in the first place). The Cydia app "PDF Patcher 2" fixes the vulnerability before Apple has the chance to react.
4. Saving attachments on your iPhone: AttachmentSaver
"Mail.app as it was meant to be" says the description of this little hack: AttachmentSaver ($3) lets you save all attachments (PDF files, Word documents, video clips, etc.) on your iPhone or iPad's storage. So how do you access these files once they're on the device? Easy: install "iFile" to get direct access to your device's file system (see #5).
5. Store and access data using a real file system: iFile
It's a pity that iOS hides its file system. Thankfully, iFile corrects that handicap. And it's not just a simple Finder-esque file browser, it's a full-featured viewer that supports non-standard data such as WMV, PDF, ZIP and various other video and audio formats. It also sports bookmarking features for both files and folders and even lets you upload data. By the way: use "iPhone Explorer" to transfer files to and from your iOS device.
6. Download files to your iOS device: Safari Download Manager
As the name suggests: Safari Download Manager allows you to download files on to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. Make sure to install iFile and iPhone Explorer (see #5) to access these files on your device and from your PC or Mac.
7. Android-like customization options
iOS "Settings" app is everything but comprehensive. For users who want to toggle settings more easily, Cydia has PLENTY of options. Two of the most famous are Bossprefs and SBSettings, which add a HUD-like interface to your iPhone and iPad that let you quickly toggle 3G connectivity, Airplane mode, Bluetooth, Brightness, WiFi and various other settings straight from the home screen. You can even add more information to the status bar such as the data or a 3G data counter.
8. Better performance and battery life by turning off multitasking (for older iOS devices)
iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch (third generation) users still complain about the new multitasking introduced in iOS 4: Performance suffers and battery life goes down the drain. If you rarely multitask on your iPhone or iPod Touch, it might be wise to turn this off. Here's a great how-to that only works on jailbroken devices.
9. Enhanced context menu: Action Menu
Action Menu is one of those additions that you don't want to miss: It enhances the regular "Copy & Paste" context menu with features such as calling (a selected number), copy an entire text document, add to favorites and scroll to bottom/top. It simply lets you work just a bit more effectively on the go.
10. Upload 720p videos to YouTube and Facebook: True HD
The free True HD gets around the internal restriction and lets you upload HD videos recorded on your iPhone 4 to Facebook and YouTube.
11. Play good old SCUMM adventure games: ScummVM
I grew up playing Monkey Island and Indiana Jones and Fate of Atlantis. And if you're into old-school gaming too, there's no way around ScummVM for the iPhone, iPod Touch and (especially) the iPad. Check the instructions to learn how to transfer actual SCUMM games onto your iOS device and play them.
So how do you get all these apps? Simply search for the apps title via "Cydia" or -- if you can't find it -- follow the instructions on the linked sources.
So is jailbreaking worth the risk? Obviously, that's up to you -- I personally have never experienced any real trouble jailbreaking my iPad or iPhone. And despite the fact that it's going to be a horrendous process (again), once Apple fixes the PDF exploit in an upcoming iOS release, I think it's worth a try if you know and accept the risks.