Jailbreaking isn’t the hot topic it once was. All the new features in iOS, plus the iPhone’s availability on all the major US carriers means it’s no longer such a compelling proposition (especially given the drawbacks). But is the golden era of jailbreaking truly over? Here are 5 reasons why it’s still worth cracking open your iPhone’s operating system.
Remember: You are giving up some level security and stability with a jailbreak (though opinions vary on just how much). You won’t be able to update iOS as quickly, so you’ll lose out on the newest features. Bear that in mind when weighing up the pros and cons for going down the jailbreaking route.
There aren’t many differences between iOS and Android anymore, but customization is still a big one. With the right apps and launchers, you can tear down the look of Android and build it up again pixel by pixel.
That’s not the case on iOS—unless you’re prepared to go down the jailbreaking path. If you do, then you can break free from the rows and columns on your home screen and apply new themes to the mobile OS, or even design your own.
There are apps to juggle around the menus and entries in Settings, to tweak the animations used by iOS, to change the default font and so on. If you want Android-levels of customization, jailbreaking is the way to go.
When you buy an iOS device, you’re resigning to Apple’s walled garden, for better or worse. Think about the way map and browser links open in Apple’s apps automatically, for example—you can’t change this as you can on Android.
Jailbreaking makes it possible to get around restrictions like this. If you don’t want to use the Messages app for your texts, you don’t have to. If you need to sync with iTunes remotely over the web, that’s possible too.
All kinds of minor annoyances can be wiped away from the interface, such as the overlay that appears whenever you adjust the volume. It’s like having the best bits of iOS without all the frustrating limitations.
Want to add Touch ID and PIN protections to lock away specific apps on your iPhone? A jailbreak can help. Want to save images and videos straight from the Instagram feed to your device? A jailbreak is the answer. Desperate to have a full file manager app on your iPhone? Well, a jailbreak works here, too.
Those are just three examples but there are plenty more. Jailbreaking gives app developers more hooks into the mobile operating system and the apps that run on top of it, giving you some cool new tools to play with.
Whether you want to clean up junk data and files from your iPhone or make it easier to reach the top of the screen on bigger devices, there are a wealth of apps available through Cydia to add extra features to the OS.
One category of app that’s definitely banned from the Apple App Store are emulator apps, which turn your device into a PlayStation or a Nintendo 64 or some other similar gaming console or handheld from years gone by.
There are numerous emulator apps available—although some are better quality than others—so you can relive the gaming glories of days past on your Apple iPhone without having to wait for individual titles to be remade.
The distribution of these emulator ROMs lies in a gray area legally speaking, so you should be aware that you’re probably breaking the copyright laws in your country if you decide to go down this route after jailbreaking your iPhone.
You don’t have to be particularly technical to jailbreak your iPhone, but if you are then the process opens up a treasure trove of new options, resources, and possibilities to help you apply hacks of your own.
Whether you want to develop a particular app or need to get a closer look at the data flowing to and from your iPhone, jailbreaking gives you that freedom—not something everyone wants to do of course, but hugely appealing to some users.
One other example is mobile tethering: a jailbroken iPhone can install apps allowing you to circumvent tethering restrictions put in place by your operator, so you can use the phone as a hotspot for other devices to latch onto.
If you’ve decided to take the plunge the first thing you need to do is stop updating iOS—the most recent cracked version of the mobile OS is 9.0.2, and if you’re on anything later than that, you’re out of luck.
So, you need to stop updating your iPhone until the professional jailbreakers catch up. After that, there’s a fairly straightforward process to follow: our friends at Lifehacker have a useful up-to-date guide to help.