Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Root Access For All!

Hey again, I broke through the one post barrier!

I want to say a few things about jailbreaking iOS products because everybody seems to be either very apprehensive or afraid of doing this, when in reality the jailbreak community is a beautiful place and allows for a huge amount of customization which would otherwise not be possible. All a jailbreak does is allow root access to your phone (in other words, allows you to change things which Apple hasn't explicitly allowed through their App Store) as well as install a third-party app/tweak store called Cydia (the Latin name of a worm which lives inside of and eats apples....mmmm apples).

Many, MANY people talk tirelessly about the differences between iPhone vs. Android vs. BB etc. and which one is better and more open and these types of things, but the fact is, they are both extremely similar. Apps in the iPhone app store are submitted to Apple just like they are submitted to the Android market. These two development environments are extremely similar and neither is truly open. Any discussion of features provided by either (with the exception of hardware differences such as NFC chips and dedicated buttons) depends only on developers. I personally prefer iOS because its coding allows for much smoother scrolling and switching, it just feels better to me.

With the release of iOS 5, many people will probably not bother to jailbreak, because so many nice features the jailbreak community has released are making their way into the official release. Of note is the pull-down notification centre (very similar to the tweak LockInfo) as well as the ability to sync via WiFi when the phone/tablet is charging. Note that Cydia does not mean that apps or tweaks are free, it is just that they give functionality which Apple does not allow in accordance with their terms with developers.

Finally, when it comes to iOS using Flash-based webpages, which everybody refers to as one of the major drawbacks of the platform, it is not a shortcoming of Apple, merely a choice which Steve Jobs et al. have made due to compatibility and smoothness issues with the software. The company prides itself strongly on the smoothest and easiest user experience possible, and this means having the user experience be the same or as similar as possible across all devices. Apple chose to stand behind HTML5 (a language which Google is also strongly pushing and which Google uses for all of its services due to its speed and usability) because they feel that in the end that technology allows for a better experience. Apple does NOT like glitches or bugs.

Speaking of glitches and bugs, I have chosen this topic for today because Jailbreakme 3.0 was released today. This allows you to simply point Safari to http://www.jailbreakme.com and start the process. I won't go so far as to recommend that anybody jailbreak their iOS device, but if you are in any way unsatisfied with Apple's rules about what you can do with your phone, it is a great and completely reversible (by restoring) way to take back some control of your operating system. Also, it is extremely simple and convenient in this case, and having the app doesn't require that you use it, so if you're feeling even the slightest bit adventurous, give it a try. It is an extremely simple program to use and with the simplicity of the web-based jailbreak, now is the time to give it a shot.

I hope I have shed a little bit of light on this topic for those of you who have little technical expertise, and if you are in the market for a smartphone and are having trouble deciding if Apple is worth the extra money, feel free to post questions, I would love to help you out!

-Robert