Jailbreaking is a great way to add extra customizations to your iPhone — at your own risk


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Photo by Michelle Klejmont |

Photo Illustration | Cydia, the app store for jailbroken iPhones, offers apps like Zeppelin and Cylinder that are not allowed by the Apple App Store.


The iPhone and iPad have lots of apps, but they don’t have the same level of customizability offered by other platforms, like Android. Power-users who want to get an extra boost out of their Apple devices should look into jailbreaking.

What is a jailbreak?

A jailbreak essentially removes the constraints Apple imposes within its operating system, enabling users to run software that can make your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch a totally different device. Jailbreaking is a great way to enhance the functionality of your own phone thanks to customizable tweaks and themes. 

These tweaks range from the simple, like setting custom icon themes, to the complicated, like entire replacements for your lockscreen.

Pangu, a Chinese development team, released the jailbreak for iOS 8 and 8.1, the most recent software versions for Apple devices, for Windows on Oct. 22 and for Macs on Nov. 10. 

According to Pangu’s website, its fully untethered jailbreak is compatible with all devices running iOS 8/8.1. Pangu makes jailbreak programs for both Windows and Mac computers.

Chaim Gartenberg, a School of Engineering junior, has been jailbreaking Apple products since the very first iPod Touch. That was before App Store even existed, he said, so it was the only way to run any third-party apps.

“There are multiple groups out there who all usually race to be the first to find a method to allow the jailbreak. Obviously, Apple does its best to plug the holes, meaning that it’s a constant cat-and-mouse battle to enable jailbreaking,” he wrote in an email.

While jailbreaking is legal, jailbreaking voids your warranty with Apple, so anything that happens to your device is on you, Gartenberg said. 

The best way to keep up with jailbreak news is on the r/jailbreak subreddit, Gartenberg said. The jailbreak section of Reddit is entirely devoted to jailbreaking and is the main source of big news on the topic. 

Before you do anything drastic:

Before you think about jailbreaking, we recommend backing up your device in iTunes. This backs up the entire contents of your phone just in case anything bad happens. Make sure your device is on iOS 8.1, the most current version as of this article.

Running a full system restore through iTunes will reset the software and remove any trace of the jailbreak at the expense of losing everything on your iPhone. Keeping backups through iCloud is the best way to ensure that data is kept in sync. 

“Since the apps and tweaks you can install with jailbreaking are both unauthorized by Apple and tend to modify your device on a deeper, system-wide level, there is a higher chance of things going badly and you bricking your device,” Gartenberg said. 

In the event that a tweak or plugin goes haywire, Cydia, the jailbreak app store, has installed a built-in safe mode. In case something crashes, the phone can boot into safe mode and run without any tweaks. 

This is a failsafe, though, and users shouldn’t anticipate safe mode saving them all the time. 

Contrary to popular opinion, jailbreaks don’t include stores to pirate apps. The Cydia store, the most popular jailbreak marketplace, has a thriving community of developers who offer tweaks that are both free and paid. 

Some of our favorite tweaks:

It’s important to remember that many of the changes you make to your device are based on your preferences and interests.  These are not like the traditional sense of an application. Here are a few of our favorite jailbreak tweaks:

Classic Dock - Removes the “dock” where the phone, safari, music and mail applications live at the bottom of the screen.  You can also alter the icons at the bottom to display a reflection underneath.

Zeppelin - Change your phone’s carrier text — that annoying “Verizon” or “AT&T” name at the top left of your screen. There are icons ranging from Batman to Assassin’s Creed to a Storm Trooper to your favorite sports teams. Downloadable icon packs can include any manner of logos.

Cylinder - Offers home screen icon animations. The most simple is the transition from one screen to the next (swiping the home screen right or left) is curved. Many options are available, and you can configure them.

CCBackground - Put any image you desire on the background of the control center (when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen).  I like the bright rainbow background.  

Five Column Homescreen & Five Icon Dock - Two tweaks of a kind that do pretty much what they say: allow 5 icon columns on your homescreen and dock instead of four. It looks great on big-screen devices like the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

These changes are especially great for newbies interested in jailbreak because they are simple but very impressive.  Feel free to explore all of the tweaks to customize your device, and toy with options to find out what is best for you.

Neelesh Tekal is a senior majoring in Business Analytics and Information technology. You can follow him on Twitter @neeeeeelyt.

Tyler Gold is a senior majoring in Information Technology and Informatics. You can follow him on Twitter for tech updates @tylergold.


Neelesh Tekal

Tyler Gold

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