[Tech] Notes on a Jailbreak

My jailbroken homescreen

My jailbroken homescreen

I’ve thought long and hard about jailbreaking my iPhone 4 for quite a while now. I came close to doing it when i had a 3G, and again before iOS 4.2 was released, but never got around to it. Now, though, with the new release of Greenpois0n’s simple untethered jailbreak for iOS 4.2.1 I decided to take the plunge.

The jailbreak itself was remarkably simple. Download the Windows (or other OS) exe from the Greenpois0n site, fire it up, connect the iPhone and follow the on-screen instructions. The whole process takes about 5 minutes tops. Once complete the phone is as it was before with all the original apps and settings intact, except there’s a new Loader icon to tap. That lets you install Cydia, the black market equivalent of the App Store. It’s not quite as user friendly as the App Store itself, but it does a decent job of making jailbreak apps and themes available easily.

Cydia - the black market App Store

Cydia - the black market App Store

SBSettings - easy access to loads of options

SBSettings - easy access to loads of options

I’ve only been playing with my newly jailbroken iPhone for a couple of hours, and have installed the standard gamut of jailbrek noob apps. Winterboard went on their first. It’s a piece of software that lets you download and install (either through a USB link or directly through Cydia) new themes and icons for your iPhone. I’ve opted for a simple black theme called Black UPS for now, but I’ll doubtless experiment more in the coming days. It works well, but a lot of the themes available seem to be designed with iOS 3.x or earlier versions of 4.x in mind, so they don’t work too well.

Next to be installed was SBSetttings. It’s an app that can be launched at any time (the activation method is highly configurable) and allows access to settings like screen brightness and wifi from inside any app. I also installed LockInfo which adds a bunch of useful notifications (like calendar and email alerts) to the lock screen. I’ve also installed Five Icon Dock which allows a fifth icon to be placed in the iPhone dock, and WeatherIcon, which cleverly makes the default iPhone weather app’s icon display the current conditions, rather than a generic logo.

So a few hours in, and things are looking great. The jailbreak scene will doubtless catch up to the release of the 4.2.1 jailbreak with better Winterboard themes, and I’ll keep playing with new apps and let you know about them here. Sure, jailbreaking is no longer essential to add features omitted by Apple (multitasking was always the big draw) but for tinkerers and modders its still a pain free way to get some extra functionality out of your iPhone, and make it stand out from the crowd. I heartily recommend it.

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