Jailbreaking is truly and totally back for every iDevice, and it hasn't been this easy for years. But with iOS 4's new features, is it worth the (minimal) effort? 17 times yes. UPDATED: New guide here.
Now that multitasking, apps and custom wallpapers are standard features in iOS, it might seem like there really isn't a point to jailbreaking anymore. But as i(Phone)OS has grown wings, so too has the jailbreak scene; for every tardy feature that's cropped up in Apple's official software, wily jailbreakers have come up with something fresher—and often waaaay cooler—to release in their underground App Stores. Here's the best the jailbreak scene has to offer, right now.
And as always, the disclaimer: Jailbreaking can potentially brick your device and void your warranty, so proceed with caution. And by 'proceed with caution,' we mean NUT UP, SON.
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The Other Other App Store: The jailbreak scene has matured in ways that many assumed it couldn't, most of which are embodied by Rock, which is essentially the other jailbreak app storefront. (Cydia is the one that shows up on your phone as soon as you jailbreak.) Some people prefer the flashier Rock to the straightforward Cydia in all ways, but there's one big reason to have Rock around: Paid Jailbreak apps. Yeeeah! These are, like, a thing. A few of the entries on this list are paid apps, actually, and they're worth every penny. There are paid apps in Cydia as well, but most of the big boys have opted to sell through Rock, and often offer free trials. UPDATE:Cydia has merged with Rock, so you're best off sticking with Cydia, as the two will soon be glommed into one store.
Mind Control: The utility of such a thing might not be obvious, but trust me: using a mouse on your iPhone is fucking cool. Of course that's not the only thing Veency does; it's a full VNC server for your phone, meaning that you can use it from your computer, while it's still in your pocket. This is also an easy way to use a keyboard on your phone, if you so choose. Free.
Most of Your Settings, All the Time: SBSettings Lets you invoke a settings screen with all your most-used toggles—think 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness—without wading through any menus. Just perform a little gesture (the default setting is a pinch on the status bar) and a drawer slides down, with pretty much every buried setting you could ask for. If it's missing an option for a setting you want, there's probably a plugin for what you want.
A Lift, a Snip, and a Font Change: You really can't talk about jailbreaking without bringing up theming app Winterboard, and even though iOS 4 includes user wallpapers, it's still worth a look-if just for the tremendous number of bizarre or occasionally wonderful skins available. Winterboard customizations can be more than skin-deep too, tweaking SMS tones and the like. A word of warning, though: After you install this one on iOS 4, you'll notice some odd behaviors, and misspaced icons. Don't worry! Just go into the Winterboard app, disable all the checkmarked options, and respring. Work forward from there.
Tethering for Cheapskates: With AT&T's exorbitant tethering charges, jailbreak tethering, which works exactly as well is massively appealing. Sadly, you're going to have to compromise a little. An app called Tether is a cheap option, but it's somewhat complicated—but by no means difficult—to use. Problem is, it only allows you to tether with devices that can create ad-hoc networks themselves, which rules iPads out. The same is true of PDANet, a polished, streamlined and more expensive (though there's a generous trial) take on the same concept. In other words, no iPad tethering. For that, you've got to use MyWi, another highly polished app that actually broadcasts a Wi-Fi network from your iPhone. It's pricey, at $20, but remember: AT&T's tethering fees cost that much every month, and they don't even let you tether your Wi-Fi iPad.
Three Bucks for a New iPod: iRemix replaces your phone's native iPod app, adding favorites, song bookmarking, on-the-fly additions to your on-the-go playlist, customization FFW and REW increments, inbuilt lyrics, as well as artist info and video lookup. It feels less like a new app than it does a subtle, clever mod-but serious music-listeners will find it's worth the few bucks' gate fee.
Open Your (Video Player's) Mind, Man: Formerly (and tellingly) called vlc4iPhone, OpenStreamer does two things the iPhone's built-in video player doesn't: play a wide variety of video formats, and play internet TV streams, like the ones you find on ShoutCast. Basically, if your iPhone can't seem to play your Legally Obtained Video Media Items for some reason, OpenStreamer probably will.
The Games that Got Away: There are too many to list here, and that's a very good thing: NES, SNES, Genesis and GBA emulators are all worth your time, and work with virtually any ROMs you can track down online. We're big fans of zodttd's offerings: nes4iphone, snes4iphone, n64iphone, and mame4iphone.
Backdoor Dealings: Try this: copy a file onto your iphone-any file, your choice. Just drag and drop it... YOU CAN'T! This is why you need OpenSSH, which lets you connect directly to your phone's file system over Wi-Fi.
OpenSSH creates an FTP server at the root directory of your iPhone; you can connect to it like any other web server, and it gives you full control over the contents of your phone. Need to dump 4000 NES ROMs onto your handset? Just queue them up in your FTP client and let rip. Free.
Files, Meet Cabinet: FileViewer is a simple and somewhat idiosyncratic app that gives you a full, local view of your iPhone's file system. It doesn't do much aside from navigate your folder tree and display images, PDFs, and local web content. Seems like a small thing, but we find it invaluable.
A Decent Lock Screen: One of the more immediately impressive jailbreak apps, Intelliscreen gleans the most important info from your phone-most recent emails and text messages, calendar dates-and throws it up on your phone's lock screen. $10 may seem a little steep, but once you have it, it becomes a huge part of your daily phone routine.
Sync Without Wires: Wi-Fi Sync does exactly what you'd hope it would. Working in tandem with a lightweight client app on your computer, this brilliant little app tricks your devices into thinking they're connected by cable, and lets them sync the hell out of one another, wirelessly. $10.
FaceTime at All Times: A number of tools are available to trick iPhone apps into thinking they're running over Wi-Fi when if fact they're transmitting data over 3G, but the $3 My3G is the first to support FaceTime.
Texting Magic: biteSMS's best feature is its answer-from-anywhere notification system, which can open up a message reply box within an SMS notification, so you don't have to interrupt what you're doing. The app does much more than that, though, and you'll likely find another feature or two that are just as appealing, like lock screen texting, signatures, contact pictures, message use tracking and tray notifications. It's also bundled with a texting relay service, which knocks the price of international texting down to reasonable rates. The trial is generous enough, and the full app costs $7.
Old Dogs, New Tricks: With the omission of multitasking and wallpapers from the iPhone 3G release of iOS 4, the 3G remains as the device most helped by a jailbreak. Why? Almost exclusively for Backgrounder, the multitasking app. In a lot of ways its pure form of multitasking is more appealing to me than the method Apple went with, and there are about 17 flashy task switchers to try it out with. (See: Kirikae, Circuitous and Pro Switcher.)
Circuitous image via .
Everything for Nothing: It comes up every time we post about jailbreak, so let's just air it out: Yes, apps like Installous make pirating apps VERY easy. If you go this route—and we suspect you've made your decision before even jailbreaking—please treat it as a try-before-you-buy service. If devs can't make money making apps, they won't make apps.
Google Freakin' Voice: Casey's put together a wonderful guide for replacing your phone with Google Voice, using jailbreak apps:
Sure, your old first-gen iPhone may not have the horsepower to run iOS4, but you can hack it to kick your shiny, new, legit model's ass in terms of reception: Use it as a Wi-Fi-only landline. Because a jailbroken iPhone can run apps in the background, you can keep a VoIP app and Google Voice up and running at all times. To get a phone number, we're gonna use Sipgate again, as well as the GV Mobile+ and Acrobits Softphone apps. With those two apps, you can turn your iPhone into a one-stop VoIP phone: incoming calls will ring through Acrobits Softphone, which is conveniently running in the background. For outgoing calls, dial through GV Mobile+'s interface, and your GV number will appear as your caller ID.
This list is in no way exhaustive, so post your favorites in the comments. ATTICA!