The benefits of jailbreaking your iOS device

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: August 15, 2013

Alright, so the other day I covered the perks on installing a custom ROM on your Android device, but unfortunately this did absolutely nothing for people who use iOS devices as their daily driver. Fear not, for today is your day, Apple users! Today is the day where we discuss some of the benefits you can get from jailbreaking your device.

Of course, to reap the benefits of a jailbroken device, you first have to actually jailbreak your device. The best way to go about this is to do a bit of reading because there are several methods in order to jailbreak one's iOS device, and the same method doesn't necessarily work the best for everybody. To point you in a definite direction, I would recommend reading up on websites with popular jailbreak tools like evasi0n, RedSn0w and Absinthe. Like rooting, jailbreaking doesn't come without its risks, and the more you read up on the subject the better.

Now, "jailbreaking" is a term that sounds a lot scarier than it is; you're not doing anything illegal, it's just a liberating term that is meant to signify "freedom" from the restrictions that Apple places on their gadgets. For many, these restrictions equal simplicity and owning a device that "just works", and it does. By leaving your iOS device alone, anything and everything that goes wrong internally is most likely not your fault and should be covered completely under Applecare, or possibly covered by warranty. However, by jailbreaking your device you're able to bypass that "wall" that Apple put up for you and gives you the ability to customize and tweak your device further than you ever would be able to without, thanks to a little something called Cydia.

What is Cydia?

Cydia is the software application that allows users with jailbroken iOS devices to find and install software packages that mod the device; it's pretty much your second App Store for everything jailbreak-related. For example, if you wanted to change visual tweaks within your device you would want to search Cydia for a package called "Winterboard", which allows you to change various themes throughout your phone. Have you ever wanted to change the color of the speech bubbles in SMS? Or maybe you would like your icons to have a different design to them? You can change all of that easily through Winterboard. But where do you find these themes and mods, you might ask? That brings us back to Cydia, where most mods and tweaks are found.

You can definitely do more than just change the way the UI looks in your iOS device when it comes to tinkering with a jailbroken device. Some of my favorite mods for my jailbroken iPhone had nothing to do with theming, but instead had to do with how changing how the phone worked or enhanced the features of the phone.

For example, one of my favorite mods, Activator, changes what actions trigger what. For example, you can make it so that double tapping your Home button brings you to a certain application, or that tapping the status bar on your lockscreen can take you straight to SMS if you wanted. There are a ton of options on what triggers to choose from and from which parts of the phone you can access said triggers from (Anywhere, Lockscreen, In Application, Homescreen). It gives you control over your iPhone in a way you probably never thought you would have been able to. Activator was one of the biggest time savers when I used my 4S as my daily driver.

Another noteworthy mod is SBSettings, which is an application that lets you customize a list of toggles that appears once you slide your finger across your notification bar (which, ironically, uses Activator to do so). You can toggle settings like WiFi, airplane mode, Bluetooth, brightness and a lot more, and you're able to customize which toggles show up depending on which ones you need the most. SBSettings obliterates the need to go into the actual Settings portion of your iOS device and dig through menus upon menus just to turn your Facebook notifications on or off, or to turn on Do Not Disturb mode. SBSettings was one of the handier tweaks that I used on my iPhone.

Other notable mods that were also favorites of mine were Infinifolders (good for the app hoarder), BytaFont (changes the font used across your phone for when you get tired of Helvetica), and SpringFlash (uses Activator to quickly activate a flashlight on iOS devices that use a flash).

Choosing to jailbreak your iOS devices gives you a lot of the things that you wish your device could do, but never could before. Although many people ask, "Why not get an Android?" It's true that Android has a lot more to offer without jumping through so many hoops in terms of customization and a lot of other benefits from a jailbroken iOS device, but it's simply not that easy of a solution in all situations. Many people stick with iOS because they've invested so much money/time in the ecosystem. If you have already spent hundreds of dollars on applications and already have most of your important documents and files stored in iCloud it's a pretty logical reason not to jump platforms just so you can get the added benefit of toggles or themes when you can get them on your jailbroken iOS device. It's not something you have to have, but it's nice to know the option is there if you choose to move ahead by jailbreaking your iOS device.

Now it's your turn, readers! For those of you who use, or have used, jailbroken iOS devices, what are some of your favorite mods and tweaks? Share yours in the comments below!

Images via Cult of Mac

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