How-To Geek

Why You Should Jailbreak Your iOS Device

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
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Recently it was announced it’s legal to hack your phone/devices. Today we look at why you would want to Jailbreak your iOS device. This will be a general overview of some of the capabilities and options available after a jailbreak.

In a previous Article, Mysticgeek wrote about how to jailbreak your iOS device the easy way. If you are not yet on iOS 4.0.2 this method should still work. However if you have updated, you will need to wait for the new to be completed. There are other ways to jailbreak your iOS device however, which we will discuss later. The apps, widgets and themes discussed maybe found using the Cydia shortcut that was added to your apps.

Keep in mind that if you Jailbreak you Apple Device it may not be covered under warranty. However, you can easily set it back, so there seems to be some confusion on whether it will void the warranty or not if you set it back.


One reason that many people want to Jailbreak is to add information to their lockscreen. By default the iOS lockscreen shows you time and date, battery, life alarm status, Wi-Fi Status, carrier network status and notifications of events, SMS, or other popups from apps.

The lockscreen widget we looked at in this test was LockInfo. LockInfo is free for a 14 day trial period and then costs 4.99. LockInfo has options for plugins and widgets in itself. The plugin we tested was the HTC Plugin which aims to emulate the HTC Sense UI lock screen with its clock and local weather, as well as collapsible categories of pop ups such as calendar, mail, notifications (from other programs such as AIM or Facebook), missed calls, voicemail, and SMS. You can also add other plugins such as twitter and a mini web browser.

Custom Themes

With iOS 4 you can now add a wallpaper to you home screens… ya… pretty exciting. The problem is that all of your icons and bars and text still look the same, and for some people, that’s boring. With Cydia you can install a theme app like WinterBoard.

WinterBoard has taken over where SummerBoard was with older iPhones and the iPod Touch, it will support any themes created with SummerBoard as well as it’s own.. With WinterBoard you can select the theme element that you would like to change based on what you have downloaded from Cydia. There are many premade themes for the whole OS or just specific apps such as SMS.

Custom SMS Sounds

Another reason to jailbreak would be the option to use different and custom SMS sounds. By default you have six options plus the option of not having any sound. When you Jailbreak you now have the option to access /System/Library/Audio/UISounds which is where the audio files are kept. With Cydia you can download different SMS sounds and ringtones, to customize your iOS device. Most of the SMS sounds you download will be used with a theme application such as WinterBoard and will replace one of the default SMS sounds.

Apps Not Blessed by Apple

A big feature that is added to a iOS device that has been jailbroken is apps do not need to be approved by Apple before appearing in Cydia for download. In this test run we discovered that there was a Google Voice app, GV Mobile. This app works with SMS and with calling, but calls by ringing the phone number that you set with in it for calls. There are more games, more text editors and more navigation apps available to you thought Cydia.

There are more applications, tweaks and nifty things that can be done with OpenSSH and Cydia that we’ll cover in the future such as qtwitter, a Twitter app that will let you update your status from any window at anytime. You can add action menus and set other short cuts to access your apps faster.

Because You Can

Lets face it, as geeks we love to make things our own. We’re dedicated to allowing you to own what ever geek piece of software or device that we can get our hands on. With the DMCA exemption that just passed some of those on the fence will now want to come to the side of freedom. But for those who don’t care about the rules and just want to hack every electronic toy you have, there are always new and easier ways to do this. We have only skimmed the surface of a few of the options that are now there.

Here we took a look at some of the basic cool things you can do once you jailbreak your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. In the future we’ll be taking a look at some of the more geeky tips and tricks you can do, so look for those soon.

What is your take? Do you jailbreak your Apple devices right away, or are you on the fence about doing it. Leave a comment and let us know!


Chris is a Mac geek who still knows his way around Linux and Windows. He's always looking for a good way to translate geek to english.

  • Published 08/20/10

Comments (14)

  1. PW

    Very thin article, but might be enough to persuade some casual users.

    By the way, you spelt ‘reference’ wrong on your phone…

  2. JM
  3. Diego Ruiz

    I have jailbreaked my device twice and both times I had problems with the battery meter.

  4. Andy

    Are there any downsides to jailbreaking? I know at least at one point there were problems with push notifications not working properly (getting other people’s notifications), and I saw mention of MMS not working right. Have these kinds of issues been sorted out?

  5. Ooostl

    There are so many downsides, it’s not worth it, apple keeps it locked for a reason….that’s why ios has nearly no problems in the device it’s on function,
    ( and if it does, apple always fixes it) vs android always messing up. Not worth it, fail article, not to mention app,e is cracking Down on this stuff, …..the article posted Bove

  6. Andy

    Not sure how much apple will be able to crack down on it, given that it’s been declared fully legal (at least in the US).

  7. Keith

    The positives are there – but my biggest negative is that the inevitable next update will break the jailbreak leading to a game of cat and mouse. And while this jailbreak is insanely easy, the next may not be – so why shell out $5 for a screen info app or $20 for tethering….you get the idea.

  8. Chuckles

    ive never had a problem when its jailbroken ( on 3 different devices) and ios isnt perfect but this helps it get a little closer to being good

  9. Ishtar

    I’ve never had a problem following jailbreaking on two iPhone 3G — I had to return the first one on warranty because the Wi-Fi receiver died and I simply restored it before bringing it to the Apple store.

    Anyway, my main reason for jailbreaking is unlocking my iPhone for traveling in Europe (in many countries, you can buy a prepaid SIM card with data as well as phone features). So I unlocked it successfully (I tested it with a T-Mobile SIM card).

    I only use three jailbroken apps:
    1. Backgrounder for multitasking — remember, I have a 3G.
    2. PDANet for connecting my iPhone to a computer by USB or wireless to use it as a modem.
    3. SBSetting, which allows me to hide the Apple default apps I never use (Stocks, Voice Memos, etc.) and adds easy access to settings that are normally buried deep down in submenus.

  10. Jose

    a question regarding jailbreak –

    if you jailbreak, what happens to the apps i’ve previously bought in the app store?
    are they usable? can these apps still be updated?
    or do i need to purchase the app again from cydia store?

  11. Brahyne

    Does jailbreaking an iPhone unlock it to be used on Mobile Networks other than the network it was originally setup on ?

  12. jmke

    @Brahyne: no you need to “unlock” the phone for that, after jailbreak, in Cydia you can find the necessary tool :)

  13. Keith

    All your apps function just as if nothing happened. You just can get access to non apple sanctioned apps once you jailbreak.

  14. Harrison

    My ipod touch is jailbroken i did it by a web site called jailbreak be 2.0 or sumthing it works very good but every time when i turn it of and on it taked more than 6 min to turn back on and it has like a line of broken pixle but the screen is fine and the apple pine weel keeps on turning while turning on

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