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Should you jailbreak an iPhone: Is jailbreaking good for an iPhone or iPad? Is jailbreaking safe? The pros and cons of iOS jailbreaking

Rob Mead-Green | Sept. 7, 2015
For millions of happy users all over the world, the iPhone is fantastic just as it is. It's beautiful, elegant and easy to use, and there are thousands upon thousands of apps and oodles of content for them to choose on the App Store.

For millions of happy users all over the world, the iPhone is fantastic just as it is. It's beautiful, elegant and easy to use, and there are thousands upon thousands of apps and oodles of content for them to choose on the App Store.

And then there are the people who aren't so happy. People who want to break free of the restrictions they believe Apple has forced upon us all - from the default apps that come with iOS to the fact that its underlying structure cannot be customised by individual programmers, third-party developers or even users themselves. These unhappy people are the jailbreakers. And Apple has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with them ever since the iPhone launched in January 2007.

It's easy to understand the jailbreakers' frustration. On the Mac you can pretty much do whatever you want to customise your day-to-day experience with the hardware. If you don't want to use Mail for email or Safari for surfing, you can download alternatives such as Sparrow or Firefox instead. Heck, you can even set them to be the default apps if you want, enabling you to ignore Mail, Safari and Apple's other apps altogether.

This isn't the case on the iPhone. While many great alternatives to iOS's default apps do exist, you'll find that iOS always reverts to the defaults for certain things. Try clicking on an email address or a URL in an app, a document or web page and Mail and Safari will almost always boot up first, no matter which other alternatives you use.

Jailbreakers are frustrated by other things too: the fact that you can't do simple things like change the iPhone's default look and feel, take control of internet downloads or install apps other than those available from the iOS App Store. If you're brave enough or wise enough (or foolish enough), you can easily tinker with the underpinnings of OS X using things like Terminal or rummaging around in the Library folder. No legitimate equivalent for users exist in iOS. You can only do what Apple lets you do. Unless you jailbreak your iPhone, that is.

In this article we're going to examine jailbreaking and the reasons for and against jailbreaking an iPhone or iPad, to help you decide whether this is the right course of action for you and your Apple device.

What is jailbreaking?

Jailbreaking is the act of changing the iPhone (or iPad) software to remove the restrictions and limitations imposed by Apple. The principal limitation is that software can only be installed from the App Store. With a jailbroken phone you can install software from a rival to the App Store, and also manually using files downloaded from the internet.

 

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