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Women in Tech

So You Want to Be a Jailbreaker?

By Rob Walch MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Aug 5, 2010 5:00 AM PT

I wrote part of this article while flying with my four-year-old son. I saw something on the flight I thought was funny -- on the package of peanuts it said "Ingredients: Peanuts Roasted in Peanut and/or Canola Oil, Salt." Then the line right below that "Produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts."

So You Want to Be a Jailbreaker?

Really? The peanuts were processed in a facility that processes peanuts? Who would have thunk? I guess that is a product of our overly litigious society, which often leads to dumb rules and overly complicated ways of doing things. That is why I am such a fan of the iOS user interface -- it is just plain easy to use. I am also a fan of jailbreaking, which at times has been anything but easy.

But now there is a new jailbreak technique: All you need to do is point your iOS device's Safari browser to JailbreakMe.com. Then slide the slider, and the jailbreak starts. A couple of minutes later you are all done. That's it, no need for a computer, no need for SHSH blobs (if you don't know what they are, you are better off not knowing).

The Details

The devices this works on are all the iOS devices running iOS 3.2 or later -- that includes the iPad running iOS 3.2 or 3.2.1. It also includes the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4, iPod touch (generations 2 and 3) running iOS 4.0 and iOS 4.0.1. Do not upgrade to any version of the iOS outside of those if you want to keep using this jailbreak method.

This method does not care what version of the boot ROM you have or if you saved SHSH blobs. It does not care what version of iTunes you are using or if you are Mac or PC. The entire jailbreak is done right from the iOS device itself simply by pointing the Safari browser to the site. It is highly recommended when doing so that you have a WiFi connection. Also, make sure you do a backup of your iOS device before attempting the jailbreak, and make sure your device is updated to iOS 4.0.1 or iOS 3.2.1 (iPad) before attempting.

There Can Be Issues

As always, I need to warn that jailbreaking will make your device less stable than if it was not jailbroken, and the more jailbroken apps you download the more likely you are going to have issues. I recommend you only download the apps you need and delete out any you do not like ASAP. Early on with this jailbreak there were reports of Facetime and MMS not working -- those issues have been resolved. Some users have reported issues during the jailbreak process where it gives a server time out issue over and over. To resolve this issue, you need to close out Safari completely (best to restart the device) and then clear the cache and then go back to the JailbreakMe site.

Again, as with any jailbreak, you are opening the iOS device up to new issues, and that can mean the device locks up and needs a full restore. So if you are someone that does not like when things go wrong, this is not for you. Apple states that if you jailbreak, you void the warranty of your iOS device; however third-party warranty vendor Squaretrade states they still honor their warranty if you jailbreak. Full and fair disclosure: Squaretrade is an advertiser on my podcast, but that does not make them any less cool for standing behind their warranty when you jailbreak, whereas Apple goes running for cover -- just sayin'. But if voiding your warranty is the reason you don't want to jailbreak, please note there is a third-party solution for that.

Too Easy

This is without a doubt the easiest jailbreak since the original JailbreakMe.com jailbreak back in 2007. Anyone -- and I mean anyone -- who uses an iPhone can do this. This obviously takes advantage of a major security hole in the iPhone OS, which means Apple WILL patch this on the next update. If you are at all interested in jailbreaking, do not upgrade to the next iOS update. Obviously, if you can do this by just going to a Web page, then someone will come out with an exploit beyond jailbreaking, and you should expect to read a lot of FUD about this until said update comes.

Some Apps to Consider

Here are a few of the important apps to consider once you do jailbreak:

  1. Five Icon Doc: Allows 5 icons in your lower dock
  2. Backgrounder: Real backgrounding of apps
  3. 3G Unrestrictor/My3G: Both trick apps into thinking you have a Wifi connection when on 3G
  4. MyWi: Turns your iPhone/3G iPad into a mobile WiFi hotspot (probably why you are jailbreaking)
  5. Screensplitr: Mirrors your iOS device on a monitor/computer
  6. Multiflow: Scroll left and right through open Apps
  7. Lockdown: Lets you password protect individual apps
  8. Spoofapp: Allows for the recording of phone calls

Its Legal

Back to the beginning and the peanuts -- that was a process of too much legal intervention. However, just last month, the U.S. government chimed in specifically about Jailbreaking, and they said it is legal to jailbreak.

Kudos go out to the EFF for fighting the good fight and also to the U.S. government for doing what was right. This, however, does NOT mean Apple has to honor their warranty if you jailbreak -- but it does mean those providing us with these great jailbreak services are protected a little more from the horde of Apple lawyers. Not that Apple ever went after them in the past, but now at least they are even less likely to try.

One thing is for sure: It has never been easier or more legal to jailbreak your iOS device than it is today.


Rob Walch is host of the Today in iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch podcast.


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Jeff Bezos of Amazon
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook
Sundar Pichai of Google
Tim Cook of Apple
All of them are equally trustworthy to some extent.
None of them are trustworthy whatsoever.