Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Is it worth jailbreaking my iPhone?

I’ve been an iPhone owner for almost two and a half years now, but in that time I’ve never bothered to ‘jailbreak‘ my phone. Mainly because it generally does what I want it to, and I’ve been worried about the potential security risks of jailbreaking.

But now ReadWriteWeb has published an article called 12 Really Good Reasons To Jailbreak iOS 6 Right Now, to coincide with the release of the first successful ‘untethered’ jailbreak for iOS 6, and, in turn, the iPhone 5 and the latest iPad and iPod Touch. An untethered jailbreak means that you can turn the device off and on again without removing the jailbreak; a tethered jailbreak requires you to boot the phone up whilst connected to a computer over a USB cable to maintain the jailbreak.

So, seeing as I could now jailbreak my phone, should I bother? I will go through the 12 reasons in turn and whether they’re relevant to me.

1. Rename And Reorganize Apps

I’m not too bothered about being able to rename my apps; I don’t bother renaming desktop apps so I wouldn’t see the point doing so on my phone. I tend to look at the icons rather than the application names anyway. Jailbreaking would, however, let me fit more icons on to each screen, and get rid of the Newsstand folder that I never use.

2. Make Chrome (Or Anything Else) Your Default Browser

Google Chrome is my preferred browser on iOS. Whilst I prefer Firefox on the desktop, I also use Chrome from time to time whereas I never use Safari, so Chrome has more of my data. Having it as default, and therefore opening instead of Safari would be nice, I suppose, although an increasing number of apps are supporting third party browsers. Pocket has done for a while, and TweetBot added this as a feature last week too.

3. Change Your Default Email App

Again, I don’t use the built-in Mail app much on iOS as it’s a bit ugly. Instead, I use Sparrow, which, although development of it has essentially ceased, is much more capable in my opinion. Jailbreaking my iPhone would let me make it the default mail app, and allow me to get push notifications for it.

4. Tether Your Data Connection To Your Laptop

I can do this without jailbreaking. As it happens, it’s been almost two years since I last used tethering and that was just after we’d moved and our fixed-line ADSL broadband hadn’t yet been activated.

5. Customize the Look And Feel Of iOS

Jailbreaking would allow me to change the appearance of icons, the bootup screen, or, well anything. But considering I haven’t even changed my wallpaper in over a year I’m unlikely to do this. The current look and feel is pretty much okay with me.

6. Make The Most Of Siri

Siri is a bit of a gimmick. When I first got my iPhone 5 (since the 4S doesn’t support it), I tried Siri quite a bit. It’s only about 90% accurate in my experience and the novelty of talking to my phone wore off quickly. Since then I’ve barely used it and I’m not sure if I’d use it more even if it had extra functionality.

7. Play Classic Video Games

With a jailbroken phone, you can run various emulators for old game ROMs. This isn’t something I tend to do though, even on my desktop.

8. Beef Up Security

The article claims that you can make your phone more secure with various tweaks from Cydia, the app store for jailbroken phones; however, by jailbreaking you are also permitting the installation of apps that haven’t been digitally signed by Apple, potentially making it easier to accidentally install malware. I suppose if you’re careful you can make your phone more secure though.

9. Get A Taste Of GoogleNow

Actually all this does is make it easier to access the Google Search app that is available on all iPhones, which has quite a good voice search function.

10. Rid Your Life Of Apple Maps Forever

Honestly, Apple’s new Maps app isn’t that bad. I’ve not had any major problems with it lately. Foursquare is one app that now lets you open either Apple Maps or Google Maps and I’m sure others will follow suit. Also, Google Maps isn’t designed for the iPad.

11. Multiple Users

This is something that I hope Apple implements for the iPad – allowing multiple user profiles that can be switched between easily. But I don’t own an iPad, and I’m the only one who uses my iPhone, so this doesn’t appeal to me.

12. Catch a Glimpse Of The Platform’s Future

This is a bit of a wishy-washy one – basically, sometimes Apple build features into stock iOS that were originally only available on jailbroken devices.

So is jailbreaking for me?

Erm… not sure. Being able to use third-party web browsers, mail apps and so on by default would be nice, but most of the other reasons don’t really resonate with me. Personally, I feel that the effort involved in jailbreaking after each major new version of iOS isn’t worth it. Especially as there’s a risk of ‘bricking’ your phone and having it rendered unusable if it goes wrong. I rely on my phone, and would rather stick with a reliable device with some limits on what I can do. You may, of course, disagree and that’s fine. But it’s not for me.

2 Comments

  1. I read the same article and also wondered if it was worth doing. Aside from being able to customize the look & feel, it ultimately didn’t offer any other appeal. So I decided against jailbreaking. For now ;-)

  2. As an Android user, I can’t tell you if jailbreaking is right for you. But Google Now is much more than just the search function – the cards it shows really can be useful. Look into what they offer – but then, I’ve heard Google Now might be coming to vanilla iPhones soon anyway.