Welcome to Geek Squad, where you’ll receive your own personal guide through the wonderful world of technology and video games. This week I’d like to take a look at something that falls into that latter half: “jailbreaking” your iPhone.
Are you tired of Apple telling you what apps you can and can’t download through their app store? If so, then jailbreaking may be for you! For those not in the know, jailbreaking is the term used to describe the act of unlocking your iPhone’s operating system and allowing root access. This means once your phone is jailbroken, you have the ability to manipulate your phone in any way, provided you have the proper knowledge and tools. The primary reason that people jailbreak their iPhones is to gain the ability to install apps not found in Apple’s app store.
“But wait,” you may be saying, “Isn’t jailbreaking your iPhone illegal?” If you asked this question a month ago you would have been correct. At the end of July, the Library of Congress added an exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allowed the act of jailbreaking or rooting (the non-iPhone equivalent to jailbreaking) your phone. To quote it directly, this exception allows “computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset”. Of course pirating apps (something that’s possible with a jailbroken iPhone) is still illegal, but now Apple has no authority to take legal action against jailbreaking.
“But wait,” you may be saying a second time, “Isn’t jailbreaking your iPhone difficult and dangerous?” Au contraire, mon frère! When done properly, jailbreaking your iPhone poses minimal risks and is absurdly simple. In fact, it’s so simple that I’m going to tell you how to do it right now!
The current method used to jailbreak your iPhone, JailbreakMe 2.0, accommodates well for hardware and software differences. For hardware, you can use this method to jailbreak your iPhone on a device as new as the iPhone 4 or as old as the iPhone 3G. As for software (or firmware), the requirements vary a little bit. You can consult the chart on JailbreakMe’s Wikipedia page to find out if your specific device’s firmware is compatible with the jailbreak. For the sake of this article, let’s assume you have an iPhone 4. The oldest firmware you can use this method with is 4.0 and the newest is the first update Apple put out, 4.0.1. The most recent update, 4.0.2, fixes the exploit that JailbreakMe uses, so if you’re on firmware 4.0.2 or later you are out of luck until a new exploit is discovered. If your hardware and firmware fall within the parameters to use JailbreakMe and you’ve got a burning desire to jailbreak your iPhone, then hold on tight and read carefully! Oh yeah, and we hold no responsibility for any damage inflicted upon your phone by following these instructions, yadda yadda yadda, you know the drill.
BACK UP YOUR IPHONE! I cannot stress this enough. Although it is true enough that jailbreaking is a safe process, there is always that possibility of something going wrong. In the event that disaster strikes, you can revive and restore it through iTunes. Not only that, but if you’ve had your fun with jailbreaking and want to revert your iPhone back to its original self, restoring will do that, too. To create a backup, just hook up your iPhone to your computer, go into iTunes, right click on your iPhone’s icon, and hit “Back Up.”
With your iPhone, open up Safari and navigate to http://www.jailbreakme.com. You will be presented with a screen that has a slider at the bottom saying “slide to jailbreak.”
Slide it! Once your slide the button over, the jailbreak will begin to download and install itself automatically. After a few minutes, your iPhone will have been freshly jailbroken! If something goes wrong at this point and it doesn’t work, try restarting your iPhone and running the jailbreak again.
And that’s it! Once you jailbreak your iPhone, you’ll notice that a new app has been added to your springboard: Cydia. Think of this as the jailbroken equivalent to the app store,
where you can discover a multitude of apps that increase your iPhone’s functionality. Here’s a few of my favorites:
Winterboard (free): Customize the look of your iPhone’s springboard, lock screen, and more.
Infinifolders ($2): Get past iOS’s ridiculous “12 apps per folder” limit.
Frash (free): Tired of Apple telling you that Flash has no future? Show them what’s what and enable Flash content just by touching it!
Five-Column Springboard (free): Take advantage of all that extra real estate on your springboard by squeezing an extra column of apps onto it! You can do the same thing to your dock with Five Icon Dock.
SBSettings (free): A customizable settings window that you can open up in any app for changing your settings on the fly.
MyWi ($10): Turn your iPhone into a WiFi hotspot!
So if you’ve got an iPhone and 10 minutes to spare, free yourself from Apple’s hold and use your phone the way you want to.
Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain