If you've purchased an iOS device, you've also signed up for its many limitations. Jailbreaking can put you back in control. Here are ten great jailbreak hacks to help you customize and better utilize your iOS device.
We've shared our list of the best iPhone apps, but the iTunes App Store can only take you so far. For many looking to squeeze every last bit of functionality out of their iOS device, jailbreaking is a necessity. If you don't know how to do that, here's a video tutorial to walk you through the process using PwnageTool:
The YouTube video page includes the companion instructions for Mac. If you're running Windows, check out this video instead. Also, jailbreaking methods and apps often vary by iOS update, but apps like PwnageTool are generally your best bet.
After jailbreaking, there's a whole new world of functionality to explore. Here are our top ten favorite jailbreak hacks.
10. Customize the User Interface
iOS' user interface is one of the best, and that's partly what made it so popular. Nonetheless, it isn't perfect, and it's definitely not very customizable. If you jailbreak, you can download an app called WinterBoard from Cydia (Cydia is the great jailbreak package manager for iOS—kind of like the jailbreak version of the App Store) and start applying new themes and modifications. Although iOS 4.0 and up provides a bit more room for customization, and you can change your icons without jailbreaking, you get a lot more control over the iOS interface with Winterboard.
9. Play Classic Video Games
We've shown you how to play SNES on your iPad, but there are tons of emulation options on all iOS devices when jailbroken. All of the cartridge-based Nintendo systems are covered, from NES to N64, and many allow you to play with a Bluetooth Wiimote as a controller. MAME, Sega Genesis, and even the original Playstation all have emulators available that you can easily grab through Cydia. PureMac offers a short list of iOS-friendly game emulators, but you'll find more simply by searching Cydia. Emulators range from free to fairly pricey (for an app), but either way you should be able to find one that works for you.
8. Set Up a VNC Server
There are plenty of iTunes App Store apps that allow you to connect to VNC servers on your computers to control your computer from your iOS device, but what about the other way around? If you jailbreak, you have the option of installing a VNC server on your device and remoting in to control it with the mouse and keyboard on your computer.
7. Add Support for More Bluetooth Devices
Apple supports various Bluetooth devices, like keyboards and headsets, but if you want full Bluetooth support, you're going to need to jailbreak. There are several BTStack packages in Cydia you can download to add more functionality. For example, you'll be able to pair a mouse with your iOS device, transfer files over Bluetooth, and even add a third-party GPS device.
6. Access the Filesystem
Accessing your device's filesystem is possible after jailbreaking your iOS device thanks to SSH. With some jailbreaking solutions, you'll find SSH already installed and enabled, with 'alpine' as your default password (which you'll want to change). If not, the front page of Cydia provides you with instructions to install and enable it. Once you have SSH up and running, you can log into your device's filesystem through your favorite GUI (if you have a favorite FTP client that supports SFTP, that'll work) or command line software and traverse your device's file system as you please.
5. Change Settings Faster
SBSettings adds a small dropdown panel you can bring up at any time by swiping the top of your screen; it lets you quickly edit iOS settings without switching to the Settings app and digging through the menu. Even better, it's extensible so you can add all sorts of functionality to have even more options quickly at your fingertips. You can install it via Cydia, where you'll also find many plug-ins.
4. Get a Better Lock Screen
iOS' default lock screen is just a picture and the time, but it's really a useful place to keep various types of updates. If you want to get info quickly without having to unlock your device, there are many enhancements that'll give you a variety of lock screen options if your phone is jailbroken.
BiteSMS is a jailbreak app that replaces the default Messages app on the iPhone. It'll display multiple unread text messages on your lock screen as well as a status bar icon indicating the number of unread messages.
Element is a beautiful lock screen and home screen replacement. It'll give you updates on several types of incoming data, including weather, missed calls, calendar items, mail, and more. It does this all while still accommodating the dock. Note: Element requires Cydget which is not yet compatible with iOS 4.
3. Tether for Free
If you've got an iPhone or 3G-enabled iPad, you can get around AT&T's restrictions and use the data connection you're already paying for with other devices at no additional cost. MyWi is a Cydia app that'll let you create a Wi-Fi hotspot out of your device's 3G connection so you can share it with your other devices in need of internet access. The setup process is somewhat more complicated than calling AT&T and flipping a switch, but it's definitely a lot better than paying an extra $20 a month for the exact same connection that's costing you at least as much already.
2. Use Your 3G Connection However You Want
Tethering isn't the only way to free your data connection from the bonds of AT&T's restrictions. If there's anything in iOS that's only designed to work with Wi-Fi, you can readily expect someone to create a fix for the jailbreak community. My3G circumvents these restrictions, letting you, for example, make FaceTime calls with whatever connection you've got, or download larger files if you choose. It seems kind of silly for AT&T to enforce usage restrictions on users with capped connections, but the reality is that they do. If you want the freedom to use the connection you pay for however you like, My3G can help you out.
1. Sync Your Device Over Wi-Fi
It's becoming increasingly more ridiculous that you need to sync your iOS device with a sync cable when Wi-Fi can get the job done just fine. Fortunately for jailbreakers, there's a great Cydia app called Wi-Fi Sync that renders your cable unnecessary for anything other than charging. All you have to do is install a companion app on your computer and then pair your device. Once that's all set, launching iTunes and the Wi-Fi Sync app on your iOS device will begin the syncing process—no cables necessary.
Have a few favorite iOS jailbreak hacks we didn't mention, or just want to give the thumbs up to one we did? Let's hear 'em in the comments.
Send an email to Adam Dachis, the author of this post, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Saturday, October 2, 2010
Top 10 iOS Jailbreak Hacks [Video]