For those who would have you believe Apple is a corporate beast that puts up barriers forcing you to conform to their operating system’s rules and only install apps downloaded from their App Store, there is an alternative option. Jailbreaking your iOS device will free you from this perceived oppression and give you options that Apple doesn’t (while still letting you have Apple hardware to play with).
Others of us enjoy the stability that Apple provides with iOS and their strict controls over the software found in the App Store. Oh, and while jailbreaking isn’t technically against the law, we’ve also grown rather fond of our warranties (which can be violated in the process).
Reasons for jailbreaking are varied and personal. Two popular reasons people Jailbreak their device is to use pirated software or to circumvent the controls put in place by Apple so they can personalize their devices or access the command line and filesystem. Another common reason for jailbreaking is to bypass the carrier-lock put in place by mobile providers when wanting to transfer your hardware from one service to another without first purchasing a non-subsidized device.
Doing the jailbreak itself seems easy enough. There are a variety of tools and methods out there and plenty of detailed instructions to go around. Many of them even promise that with a little extra preparation you can easily restore your device back to being under Apple’s reign (and hopefully keeping your warranty in tact as well). Your mileage on these may vary and there aren’t any in particular that I would recommend.
But jailbreakers beware. Having your device outside of the Apple realm means keeping it entirely outside. This means that unless you can find the software your friends are using on the “app blank market”, you won’t be able to take part. Also, because you are technically breaking the rules you can be certain that Apple will do what they can to not only make it increasingly more difficult to jailbreak future versions of iOS but also won’t keep you in mind as they release updates and upgrades making it harder to revert back as well.
So is it worth it? Do the benefits of jailbreaking outweigh the downfalls of playing in Apple’s virtual playground? Key benefits I can see are the ability to add true multitasking, add unsupported Bluetooth hardware (like a mouse) or manage files like you can on your desktop computer… though as I type those things I find myself questioning why on earth a person would want to.
The pseudo-multitasking that exists within stock iOS is adequate for nearly any purpose I can figure (with most apps maintaining their own state as you switch back and forth between them). I can honestly say I’m far more delighted by the touch screen interface than I ever have been with an external mouse and I certainly don’t want to carry one around with me. As for file management, using iOS to handle your files certainly involves a change in thinking but I feel no desire to explore my files just because I can. I do suppose that being able to customize the interface on your iPad would be nice –especially when some of the tools available let you have more icons on a page or more icons within each folder.
There is a certain irony as well: that you jailbreak a device in order to escape the evil Apple confines only to put yourself inside another set of shackles that mean you can’t take advantage of many of the features that make your hardware purchase worthwhile. Besides, if you didn’t want an iPad –why not buy something else to begin with?