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It used to be that if you wanted advanced functionality on your iPhone, you’d jailbreak it. Cydia lets you customize the Control Center, alter the behavior of your browser 4 Cydia Tweaks That Will Make Google Chrome On iOS The Best Browser Around [Cydia, iOS] 4 Cydia Tweaks That Will Make Google Chrome On iOS The Best Browser Around [Cydia, iOS] You were excited when Google Chrome launched on iOS. I was too; but then I remembered that you cannot simply make it your default browser, and this makes it tough for me as I actually... Read More , use the camera from within any app, and much, much more.

But these days Apple regularly introduces many popular tweaks as part of the next version of iOS. The recently discovered KeyRaider malware also proves that jailbreaking makes your phone more vulnerable to data theft.

So should you still jailbreak your iPhone? Is it safe? Is it worth it? Let’s take a look.

The Benefits of Jailbreaking

There are still benefits to jailbreaking — customizing the iOS interface is very appealing to a lot of people. Want your notifications to show up in a different way? You can use Badgomizer. Want a Control Center and app switcher combo? Auxo 3 will do it for you. You can totally change the look (and feel) of your iPhone.

jailbroken-iphone-theme

You can insert your email address anywhere with a quick double-tap of the @ button thanks to DoubleCut. DetailedBatteryUsage lets you see interesting stats on how you use your phone’s power. EqualizerEverywhere adds a universal equalizer to your phone. And you can reduce the amount of sleep disruption due to blue light with F.lux Use F.lux To Sleep Better After Late-Night Computer Activities Use F.lux To Sleep Better After Late-Night Computer Activities Read More .

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These are all pretty benign. There are also more nefarious uses of jailbreaking, like getting paid apps for free How To Get Paid iPhone Apps For Free How To Get Paid iPhone Apps For Free Read More or using an iPhone as a Wi-Fi cracking How Easy Is It to Crack a Wi-Fi Network? How Easy Is It to Crack a Wi-Fi Network? Whether you're a computer novice or a pro-level geek, you probably have some idea about Wifi security. You know that you need to have some kind of password, and you also know that there's a... Read More tool. Of course, not everyone uses their phone to pirate apps or use hacking tools — but those who do require a jailbreak.

Does Cydia Still Make iOS Better?

Cydia, one of the most popular ways to install apps on a jailbroken iPhone, was the go-to way to improve your iPhone experience for a long time. Apple’s “walled garden” approach keeps the App Store — and much of the under-the-hood workings of iOS — very much locked down, and Cydia opens up a lot of options.

However, Apple has been incorporating many of the popular tweaks found in Cydia directly into iOS. For example, iOS 8 introduced interactive notifications, custom keyboards iOS 8 Lets You Replace Your iPhone Or iPad's Keyboard – Here's How iOS 8 Lets You Replace Your iPhone Or iPad's Keyboard – Here's How With iOS 8, you can finally to change your iPhone's keyboard, and you have some awesome options. Read More , wider-ranging Touch ID uses, and the “Hey, Siri” functionality. All of these things had previously been accessed through Cydia apps.

iOS 9 also includes a number of features that have been popular tweaks, like overlaid videos, easier text selection via swiping on the keyboard, a battery-saving mode iOS 5 Battery Drain: Save Some Juice With These Top Tips [iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch] iOS 5 Battery Drain: Save Some Juice With These Top Tips [iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch] By now you’re either in love with iOS 5, Notification Centre and vastly improved page rendering times - or you’re banging your head against a brick wall wondering why your device no longer lasts a... Read More , split-screen multitasking on the iPad, and more versatile Quick Reply notifications.

Apple is definitely taking notice of which Cydia tweaks are the most popular and making efforts to incorporate them into iOS. It’s in their best interests to curb jailbreaking, and if users really like a feature, it only makes sense to add it to iOS to reduce the need for jailbroken tweaks. It’s just good business sense.

Obviously, Cydia offers a lot more tweaks than Apple could ever hope to impement. And there will always be things that jailbreak-only apps will be able to offer (like things Apple is ideologically opposed to). iOS may become more “open” but it will never be as open as Android, and there will always be things that you just can’t do by default.

Cydia and other app repositories let you do those things, but the number of tweaks that they have a monopoly on is getting smaller with each new release of iOS.

With the expected features in iOS 9 What's New in iOS 9? What's New in iOS 9? Want to know what features your iPhone will be getting with the release of iOS 9 in September? Curious as to whether your device will be compatible? You're in the right place. Read More , this grip loosens a little further. Is Cydia still the way to get the best iOS experience? Unless you have very specific needs or wants for your phone, it’s probably just not worth the effort.

Security Concerns with Jailbreaking

As you can’t download updates or security patches without reverting to a non-jailbroken state, you could be opening yourself up to a lot of security threats (yes, even on an iPhone Smartphone Security: Can iPhones Get Malware? Smartphone Security: Can iPhones Get Malware? Malware affecting "thousands" of iPhones can steal App Store credentials, but the majority of iOS users are perfectly safe – so what's the deal with iOS and rogue software? Read More ) by jailbreaking. When a new vulnerability is detected, Apple fixes it and releases a patch, but hackers and data thieves know that not everyone runs their updates when they should and they continue to target that same vulnerability.

keyraider-headline

Earlier this month, a piece of malware called KeyRaider targeted jailbroken iPhones and stole Apple accounts and passwords from over 225,000 users. That’s a lot of stolen data, and there’s potential for a lot of havoc, money lost, and identities stolen because of it. This malware was distributed through third-party Cydia repositories, so only jailbroken iPhones were at risk. According to Palo Alto Networks, this is the largest loss of Apple data due to malware, and it was all because users chose to jailbreak their devices.

Now that KeyRaider has been outed, it’s easy enough to redownload iOS and go back to a non-jailbroken phone, but many people lost their information long before KeyRaider was widely reported. These sorts of things often go undetected for a long time before people become aware of them and take precautions. If your Apple ID has been stolen, it might only be a matter of time before someone can unearth huge amounts of information about you, access email accounts, wipe your devices and other scary worst case scenarios.

Jailbreaking: Just Not Worth It

With Apple’s constant feature innovation and the imminent security threats present to jailbroken iPhones, jailbreaking just isn’t worth the risk 4 Compelling Security Reasons Not To Jailbreak Your iPhone or iPad 4 Compelling Security Reasons Not To Jailbreak Your iPhone or iPad Read More anymore. It used to be that you could add a huge amount of functionality that significantly improved the iPhone experience from third-party apps, but iOS has come a long way, and it’s gotten a lot better. Plus you’ll be able to make additional UI tweaks after the release of iOS 9 with apps like Extensify, which doesn’t require jailbreaking.

Do you think it’s still worth jailbreaking your iPhone? Are the benefits worth the risks? Or do you think iOS has been improved to the point where Cydia just isn’t needed anymore? Share your thoughts below!

Image credits: William Hook via Flickr.com.

  1. James
    March 18, 2016 at 4:14 am

    I jailbroke my phones and was a strong advocate for it for the past few years. I jailbroke friend and family phones all the time until the iPhone 6 came out. As much fun the cool tweaks and jacks were it made my phone unstable and slow. With iOS 9 the need for jailbreakjng has passed. I had a better grip on who was programming the jailbreaks. I use to know the jailbreakers names and now there faceless programers out of China. I just don't trust jailbreakjng now.

    • Dann Albright
      March 22, 2016 at 7:30 pm

      Interesting! Why do you say that jailbreaking isn't needed after iOS 9? It does seem to provide a lot more capabilities, but do you really think you wouldn't benefit from jailbreaking even so? (For what it's worth, I don't jailbreak my phones, but I did used to root my Android phones.)

  2. Zachary Meyer
    September 16, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Hey text of death which only switched to safe mode on jailbroken devices making it easily possible to escape the loop... Some of the zero day attacks which are fixable or even unable to run on a jailbroken with some tweaks... The fact you actual can change the ash to something else than alpine which I guarantee you will some point be hacked rendering every non jailbroken phone at risk but almost any smart jailbroken user safer since they will actually have to guess their ssh password. Yes there Rouge ios native apps that did bad things..
    Top end users actually Could implement better safeguard against data. And there some things you just can't do yet.

    Like figuring out that D**** wifi code you forgot that is saved easily with a simple app.
    Others You can see battery. View console logs... Before 8 actually kill rogue apps... I had this happen on a non jailbroken and apple support told me mobile substrate was running I had to explain to them that doesn't help me since that's a system call she even at level 3 was not allowed to tell me more so I could debug ????????. Now on a non jailbroken I can't know what app has that luck... Jailbroken can run a trace and find out it'd say instagram and kill it. Actually think it was a bad update that had either a wake lock or forgot to release the Web browser
    Oh and Battery temperature.. See network name in carrier logo. Advanced network statistics. There many other nich apps that come d*** useful at times that with apple your just SOL

  3. likefun butnot
    September 15, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    iOS 9 is finally going to respect the basic concept of literacy with the introduction of correct letter case on its on-screen keyboard, but the other huge iOS deal-breaker that keeps me from even touching my work-provided iphone is lack of file system access. I should be able to add, move and organize files in an arbitrary fashion on anything that stores files. Functional full-device file browsing shouldn't require users to void their device warranty.

    • Dann Albright
      September 19, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Yeah, file system access would be really nice. That definitely goes against Apple's walled-garden approach, though, so I wouldn't expect to see it anytime soon. But you never know!

  4. Susie Tracey
    September 15, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I wouldn't give up my jailbreak for anything. There are way too many benefits and the risk is less than what you make it out to be. The Key Raider thing took place mostly in China... there are plenty of trusted repos where that wouldn't happen. It also happens to people who are stealing and using cracked apps... but I don't do that so I feel safe. Until Apple allows us to theme and change our fonts I'll be a jailbreaker for life.

    • Dann Albright
      September 19, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks for chiming in! There are definitely a lot of benefits, but whether or not the risk of jailbreaking is worth it depends very much on what you're doing. If you're not using cracked apps, you'll be a lot safer than if you are, though there's always some risk.

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