It’s been sometime since I decided to jailbreak my iPhone. One of the things I quickly discovered was that its much harder to keep abreast of new developments and apps on the jailbreak scene that it is with the more legitimate app store. That’s a situation that’s not really changed over the last few months, so I thought I’d share a small list of the jailbreak apps and tweaks I regularly use.
A must have for all jailbreak owners. SBS shows a screen full of useful toggles at the touch of a button. I have it set to show when I hold my home button down. The default toggles are great, and I regularly use the ones that switch airplane mode and wi-fi on and off. I also use the brightness control to quickly and easily turn down my screen brightness both to save battery (great when I’m using my phone as a sat-nav and have no car charger) and when I’m using the phone in bed to read and don’t want to wake my girlfriend up. I also use it regularly with Remove Background (below)
Remove Background (with Remove Background SBSettings toggle)
iOS 4’s take on multiple app use may not qualify as true multitasking, but Apple’s fast-app switching still leaves background processes running that can leach both memory and 3G bandwidth. Closing them all used to be a pain, and involving manually shutting each app in the dock. Now though, Remove Background adds a button to the homescreen (and with the optional toggle to the SBSettings screen) that allows you to kill all background processes in a single touch. I use this all the time on my iPad 1, which suffers more from its lack of memory than anything else.
Installed by default with SBSettings Activator lets you assign pretty much any app or task to any button press or combination of presses you can think of. It’s used to configure the button press that brings up the SBSettings window, but it’s a godsend for music fans too. If, like me, you regularly listen to music on your iPhone, you’re probably sick of having to get it out of your pocket and tap the screen a few times just to skip a track or two. I set activator to allow me to move ahead a track by holding the volume up button, and to go back by holding the volume down button. That means I can change tracks with the phone still in my pocket.
BytaFont (with Decker Font)
The default iPhone font is great, and easy to read, but we jailbreakers like a bit more personality in our phones. BytaFont is a sweet little utility that replaces the system font with something of your choosing. It works everywhere in the OS, except for the battery percentage in the status bar oddly. Lots of the fonts available in Cydia are hideous and barely readably, but both Anivers and Decker are fantastic, and arguably easier to read than the default typeface. I use the latter.
iOS’s inbult ability to capture screenshots is nice enough, and a great way to illustrate certain features of the operating system. Sadly though, there’s no way to record the equivalent of screen cap videos without jailbreaking. Display Recorder does a good enough job though. Sadly it doesn’t record sound, and running the app itself can make some games underperform, but by and large it’s a great way to record instructional videos.
Five Icon Dock + Five Column Springboard
The iPhone’s default 4×4 grid of icons looks pleasant enough, but there’s quite a bit of spare screen realestate left over. Install Five Column Springboard and you’ll get a 5 x 4 grid of icons instead. It may look cluttered at first, but you’ll soon get used to it, and then everyone else’s homescreen will look bizarrely spartan by comparison. I’ve been rocking this setup for a while and have never once started the wrong app, so don’t worry about the icons being too close together for accuracy either. Five Icon Dock does exactly the same but for the dock, to keep everything aligned.
Folder Enhancer (with Folder Enhancer Black theme)
iOS4 introudec a much needed folder feature to the homesceren, but there’s still more flexibility to be had. Folder Enhancer allows for nested folders, and raises the cap on the number of apps in each folder. I use it to make sure there’s enough room in my games folder for a screen’s worth of apps instead of the meagre allowance granted by iOS4 itself.
When iOS5 finally drops it will address one of the biggest recurring gripes users have with Apple’s operating system, notifications. In the early days of iOS it wasn’t so bad seeing that blue box flash up in the middle of the screen. After all, the only notifications were battery status and text messages. Now though every app going wants to bombard you with messages. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Boxcar, eBay and more. All will constantly interrupt what you’re doing with a big, central blue box that gets right in your face. It’s incredibly annoying if you’re reading an ebook or watching a video. Install MobileNotifier instead and you’ll get a glimpse of the future. Developed by a man who was later hired by Apple to create the notifications system in iOS5 if repalces the blue box with an unobtrustive bar at the top of the screen. You can tap it to see the notification, or ignore it and carry on reading or watching. Brilliantly tapping something like an SMS will show the whole message and give you a reply box right in the drop down, without having to switch to the messaging app. It’s the future.
Tvout2 Mirror TVOut
Plugging the iPhone into a TV is a great way to watch movies you’ve stored on your device, or streamed from YouTube. Sadly the OS stops you outputting the actual screen display itself, or the video output or certain restricted apps, like Sky Mobile. TVOut ends that problem, with true display mirroring. It allows you to show whatever you’re seeing on your iPhone on a TV screen, great for presentations, or for watching your discount £8 a month Sky Mobile TV Sports subscription up on the big screen.
Strictly speaking, I tend to use this on my iPad, not my iPhone, but there have been occasions when the iPad’s been out of juice, or not around that I’ve fired up XBMC, the world’s greatest media centre app, on my phone. The interface is a little cluttered to be easy to use on the iPhone, but it is still, hands down the best way to stream my movie and TV collection from me NAS. Brilliantly it has just been updated and now handles non-MP4 video streams even better. It manages DIvX, Xvid, H.264 AVI and MKV files without a care in the world, and for the first time it now supports smooth playback of ripped DVD ISOs without any performance issues over a wireless network. Essential.
Winterboard (with Suave HD theme, Suave HD lockscreen sliders, Suave HD dialer, Suave extras)
Every jailbreaker likes a bit of Winterboard, the app that lets users customise the look and feel of iOS. After trying a whole bunch of themes, I settled on the Suave HD family. The icons are nice, and there are plenty of replacement icons for a range of apps that install automativally. The theme also lops a few pixels off the size of each icon (it even does its thing with icons that aren’t inlcluded in the theme) which frees up some real estate between icons in the 5 column configuration I use.