The iPhone is one of the most advanced smartphones in the world, but it’s still being held back from its true potential.
That’s because Apple is strict about regulating what apps can and cannot be sold for its mobile phone. There are severe restrictions against running certain apps, including those with nudity, those that change the operations of the phone, even apps that criticize a public figure.
So that’s why millions of iPhone owners “jailbreak” their phones. “Jailbreaking” is the process of hacking an iPhone or iPad so it can run unauthorized third-party apps that Apple doesn’t allow. (There’s also a form of hacking for Android phones called “rooting,” but there’s less of a need to do that because Android phones have a more open system for app development.)
Two weeks ago, a cunning group of hackers named “evad3rs” finally released software to jailbreak the iPhone 5 and the latest version of its operating system, iOS 6.1. In the first four days, iPhone owners used the software “evasi0n” to jailbreak 7 million iOS devices, including iPhones, iPads and iPad minis. These users can now download and run third-party apps that perform functions Apple and the carriers otherwise won’t allow.
Jailbreaking is easy, but I won’t go into the step-by-step instructions here. Those you can find on Google and specifically by going to iPhone-specific blogs such as RedmondPie.com, which has detailed instructions. Once you jailbreak your phone, it creates an icon called “Cydia” that is the app store for jailbroken apps. Launch the store, and you have access to tens of thousands of apps that will greatly improve your phone.
But be warned: There is a slim chance that jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad can render it inoperable. The U.S. Copyright Office ruled last year that jailbreaking is legal, but jailbreaking a device probably will void Apple’s warranty and could violate your contract with your carrier. So proceed with caution.
If you do it, however, here are the first apps to get that will make the effort worthwhile.
MyWi • Used to be that turning your iPhone into a Wi-Fi hotspot cost an extra $20 per month, an unreasonable add-on fee if there ever was one. Carriers have eased up on that, but AT&T users who have unlimited data plans still cannot get this feature without moving to a data plan that is not unlimited. MyWi easily turns your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot without any added fees.
3G Unrestrictor/My3G • Apple and some carriers often restrict certain apps from using 3G connections or 4G connections, such as the iTunes App store (apps larger than 50 megabytes cannot be downloaded with a 3G connection or 4G connection) or the FaceTime video conferencing feature (in some cases, you can use FaceTime only with a Wi-Fi connection). My3G and 3G Unrestrictor are two apps that trick those restricted apps into thinking they’re using a Wi-Fi connection when in fact they’re using 3G or 4G. Now you’ll be able to FaceTime with someone without using Wi-Fi.
Springtomize • One of the big advantages to jailbreaking is the ability to change the look of the iPhone or iPad’s interface. With Springtomize, users can perform a boatload of changes in the way the phone looks and operates, including the notification screen or how many app icons can fit in a folder. Users can even make the icons semi-transparent so more of the wallpaper can be seen.
Winterboard/Dreamboard • These apps allow users to completely change the wallpaper and the look of the icons, as well as the folders. Many developers have created “themes” that make the phone’s interface one coherent design. They also can change the sound effects the device makes.
Auxo • When you close an app on an iPhone or iPad, it doesn’t really close the app but puts it into a “freeze” state. To re-access it quickly, you can call up the the phone’s auto-switcher by double-pressing the “Home” button. That brings up the list of recently-used apps. Auxo is a great jailbreak app that not only calls up past apps, but shows the screenshot of the app’s last state before it was closed. Also, if you swipe the app switcher to the left, it instantly accesses phone features that can be turned on and off, including the Wi-Fi antenna, the Bluetooth function and the screen’s orientation lock.
MapsOpener • We all know how bad Apple’s Maps application is. So when Google finally put out its own native maps app, many users installed it. Problem is that when users click on an address in Safari or another app, Apple Maps comes up by default. MapsOpener changes that default to Google Maps.
PandoraSkip • Do you love Pandora, the online music station, but hate the ads and the fact that you can’t skip more than six songs per hour? This wonderful app tweaks Pandora so it eliminates the annoying ads and the skip restriction.
Google+: +Vincent Horiuchi