Jailbreaking the iPhone

Sometimes I wonder about the decision making process behind Apple’s restrictions on the iPhone.  No, I don’t mean not allowing certain apps into the iPhone store – that’s their right. I mean simple stuff like customizing your iPhone’s look.  Why won’t they let you customize how you use it?  For the most part you’re stuck with this:

That’s not my screen image.  I didn’t want to bother undoing all my work just to get a the standard screen image.  After jailbreaking my iPhone I was able to get an app called Winterboard, which let me changed my Home screen from that into this:

The folders holding multiple apps is a standard feature in iOS4, but everthing else you see that’s unusual comes from jailbreaking.  The five apps on the dock is from the Five App Dock add-on. The background and other little touches such as the battery percentage and CPU memory usage, comes from the Blue Thunder theme (which also changes the skins on other apps in the iPhone, like the calculator, weather, time, and so on).  It even changed the “slide to turn on” button at startup into a thumb-scanner, which is cute.

It’s a small thing, but I like having that personal touch. So why doesn’t Apple? Perhaps it’s protecting their brand image, since the home screen is what people are going to associate with the iPhone.  Not the back that nobody looks at, but the main screen. Another advantage of jailbreaking is being able to add on features that are genuinely useful.  Take for example SBSettings.  This is really just a shortcut to your Settings, allowing you to access stuff like Brightness, and all the stuff you might want to turn off or on, such as 3G, Bluetooth, Location, and so on.

The difference here is this little app lets you use access it ANYWHERE.  You don’t need to leave the app you’re currently running. One of the apps I have on my iPhone is a flashlight.  But in order to save battery power I keep my brightness setting low.  If I go to the flashlight app, all it does is give you a white screen.  So I find I end up going to Flashlight, backing out of Flashlight because it’s not bright enough, going into Settings, going into Brightness, turning up the brightness, backing all the way back out and THEN going back to Flashlight. With SBSettings I can go into Flashlight, hold down the Home button a second, then access Brightness from there, without ever having to leave the flashlight app.  Much easier.  And that’s just one example of how it can be useful.

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3 thoughts on “Jailbreaking the iPhone

  1. Jailbreaking is a bag of Meh at times. The minute settings you are talking about I have done and in the end I don’t wnat to be bothered by it. Its cool but that’s about it. i understand the arguments about freedom and customizing but really….it isn’t that great and besides my phone is asleep 90% of the time.

    The iphone 4 (or 4.3) has so many settings now it drives me nuts trying to find something. Additionally the “multi tasking” they were forced to do is botheresome. When i close an app I want it closed. Multi tasking on a phone is bothersome. I like the fast switching but even still I swear it drains my battery faster.

    If Apple were really interested in doing the things that jailbreaking offered they would, additionally if they were THAT worried about protecting a brand or thier IP they would stop Jailbreaking. Don’t think that they don’t know how its done or that they can’t stop it. They could…pretty fast.

    All that said I jailbreak my phone for two reasons. free tethering and i cna use my cell connection regardless of limitations. Like I can facetime any where, and no 10mb restrcition on downloads. Its important to note these are not apple limits but cell carrier limits of ATT and Verizon.

    1. See, I can’t really say about the iPhone 4 because I have a 3G. I know they have allowed background images on the Home Screen, and the battery percentage is available I think as well.

      Part of me suspects that jailbreaking is mutely encouraged as a vogue renegade thing to encourage a different kind of developer to grow, and the things they develop will have knock on effects for later Apple innovations.

      But really it’s a “to each his own” situation. MOST people don’t need to jailbreak their phone. They’re happy to stay within the limits set, and fair play to them. But me, I like to tweek and push what’s possible just a bit. Of course, it can quickly become overwhelming and overdone – to the point where the detriments far outweigh the benefits.

      Maybe the solution should be to have the way things are in a 3G style phone set as a “simple” settings tree, and allow modding stuff through an “advanced” setting, with warnings not to mess with it unless you know what you’re doing.

  2. I agree with the idea that jailbreaking is encouraged…maybe not encouraged but its certainly not deterred. IN fact some of the things jailbreaking apps have done are part of the Iphone 4 AND are apps in the store. Podcaster is one of these.

    Still its important to note that with things like the phone and ipad/ipod apple isn’t trying to make a device for advanced users. Its trying to reach standard users and hook them into the Apple world….and it seems to be working. Odd I know but thier macs are far more intimdating to a non-computer user then the phone or ipad.

    we can go around and around….

    I think that apple took the right approach. Started simple and are now progressing to the more complex as it seems they are. if someone wanted to jump head first they could try the andriod phone and tweak to thier heart’s content…although even that phone requires “rooting” in order to really alter it and even still there are some things Google doens’t allow.

    As it is Apple seems to think its easier to walk into the shallow of the pool and get out the deep end. glad you are enjoying it. Imagine how your bike trips would have been with something like this? You should check out the DOS games that are availible. I have even played good old Ancinet Anquish….the original fanasty MMORPG (or MUD)

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