Let’s start with a couple of mantras. Repeat after me: Jailbreak is not Unlock is not Activate. Next; Baseband is not Bootloader is not Firmware. I read this somewhere a couple of years ago and laughed at first but found it really helpful afterwards. Many experienced iPhone users will agree that this very moment marks the initiation of a exciting cat-and-mouse chase which you’ll always need to be aware of.
Jailbreaking an iPhone, iPod Touch or an iPad is a rather simple procedure although it can be confusing for a new user to understand. What exactly is jailbreaking and why do you need it? Is it an application? Where can you download it? All of these questions and more will be answered in this very article.
Before we begin, let me elaborate on the whole ‘cat-and-mouse chase’ reference. Simply put, the reason we are able to jailbreak or unlock our iPhones is due to the fact that hackers found a way or “exploits” to customise and bypass any restrictions in the iPhone’s operating system. Whenever these exploits are made public, Apple will quickly respond by releasing a patch to fix the exploit, in the form of a firmware update — the notifications that you receive in iTunes, telling you that a new update is available. The hackers, collectively, are the mouse and Apple is the cat; always trying to catch its prey in our particular analogy.
Why is this important to you? Well, mainly because this is a perpetual movement and you need to be aware of who’s ahead of whom — the hackers or Apple. And since we love jailbreaking, we’re rooting for the hackers. Now, we may begin understanding the entire jailbreaking process and what you’ll need to know in order to stay jailbroken.
Let’s start with the basics and define the term ‘jailbreak’. Actually, it pretty much explains itself — to break out of jail. By default, you are confined to using the applications available only in the iTunes App Store. You’re not allowed to customise your device aside from re-arranging the position of the applications and changing your wallpaper. It’s like being in jail. You have no freedom to modify your iPhone’s settings, tweak the theme, edit the carrier’s name, change the default message tone or add third party applications. But by jailbreaking, you’re set free from Apple’s restrictions.
Jailbreaking is a process which will enable full write access on all partitions of your device. By doing so, you will be able to modify the operating system to allow visual customisation, third party apps, system modifications, replace the default audio files, and other goodies like unlocking and activating your iPhone. Jailbreaking is always the first and most important step to freedom.
To allow this article to be an evergreen source of reference, I won’t be stating which devices can or cannot be jailbroken. Instead, I will forward you to this wiki — locate your device type, figure out which firmware version it’s running (by going to Settings on your device, tap on General, then About and scroll down to Version) and whether or not it can be jailbroken. If your device cannot be jailbroken, then you’ll have to play the waiting game until the hackers release a solution. If your device can be jailbroken, iClarified will show you how — click for tutorials related to the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
How do I know if I’m jailbroken?
It’s easy. If you have successfully jailbroken your device, there will be evidence of a third-party installer application. At the time of writing, Cydia is the standard installer application found on most jailbroken devices. It will allow you to browse through a repository of third party applications, tweaks, utilities and modifications; and helps you to install them onto your device. Another installer is Icy, and an even older one is Installer.app — both of which have been discontinued.
If you have somehow managed to pluck up the courage to jailbreak your device after reading this article, be sure to find the right method for the right device for the right firmware. Inappropriate jailbreaking may render your device into a “brick”. Taking the term literally, that means your device will be as useful as piece of brick — it won’t turn on. Jailbreaking will also void your warranty, so I reiterate — make sure that you know what you’re doing.
If you have successfully managed to jailbreak your device, congratulations! Breathe the fresh, free air. You’re now released from Apple’s deadly grasp. A couple of things to note. Remember when I told you that this is perpetual ‘cat-and-mouse’ chase? I wasn’t kidding. Every time Apple releases an update, you must resist the temptation. Do some research and make sure that the firmware that you’re updating to can be jailbroken. Find out if a jailbreaking tutorial exists. If not, find out roughly when it will be released and wait for it.
I hope that this article proves to be helpful for those who still find it too scary to jailbreak their devices. It’s not that nerve-wrecking once you get the hang of it. And trust me, the benefits of jailbreaking definitely outweigh being tied to a confining operating system.
Questions? Please direct them to the comments section below.