I couldn’t ever find a site that told me, all at one go, what it means to Jailbreak a phone. The answer is simple in concept (not necessarily in execution). First there is an exploit, a way to get the iPhone to let you load random software to it. This exploit is encapsulated in some sort of software, like the one I used Redsn0w.
Then there has to be something to load with the exploit. So in addition to housing the exploit, Redsn0w takes a stock version of the iPhone restore file and patches the kernel it contains so that it will make the phone behave differently than the original software Apple installs. Then Redsn0w uses the exploit to load the patched kernel and a program loader, like Cydia or Icy.
These software loaders are no more or less than iPhone versions of Debian’s apt-get. These connect to various repositories and load the additional software Apple doesn’t want you to load, like software to run programs in the background and ways to pimp your phone’s appearance.
So, as you can see from the screenshot, you can do some interesting things, like put five icons in your dock and have a background picture on your “desktop”. Here are some of the useful features I have found.
- Adblock for Mobile Safari – This is shareware software by Cocoamug and by far the most useful aspect of the Jailbreak. In fact this one aspect probably justifies jailbreaking. You’ve got limited bandwidth and screen real estate, why give up any of that to ads?
- Backgrounder – A free app that lets you run any application in the background. This is helpful with apps like Pandora. You can set it to play in the background and read with Kindle while the music plays.
- Winterboard – A replacement for the iPhone app Springboard which is responsible for displaying the desktop and icons. This lets you full theme/skin the phone and do other things like the 5 apps in the dock.
I also tried Categories which purports to let you put icons in categories, which it does, but it is a very poorly done app. Not yet tried are the app that lets you turn an iPhone into a WiFi hot spot, an ssh server, and a file manager.
The question I have is what about these apps is so horrible, especially the three I am actually using, that Apple won’t let them in the App Store?