I’m having a mental block on writing about photography, so I thought I would branch out to another subject that I have become well versed in. Jailbreaking. Simply stated, Jailbreaking your phone gives you the ability to run software that hasn’t been approved by Apple. There are already plenty of tutorials on the web with detailed instructions on jailbreaking, so I won’t go into details.
Developers who aren’t stifled by Apple’s many restrictive rules are free to add some extremely useful features to their software that would have otherwise been rejected by Apple. Everything I am going to talk about is available the Cydia, which is essentially the underground App Store.
I recently upgraded from a jailbroken iPhone 3Gs to the new iPhone 4 and the 3 days living with the stock iOS4 were almost torturous. It was only after reverting back to the plain vanilla OS, that I realized how much I depended on my jailbreak software.
Two of the most talked about features of the brand new iOS 4, are multitasking and the ability to organize apps into folders. I have been using these features since the day I jailbroke my 3GS. So, now that Apple has those to things covered, what are the essential Jailbreak apps that I just couldn’t live without?
1. SBSettings – Short for Springboard Settings. This app gives you quick access to some commonly used phone settings. With one swipe of your finger, I window slides down from the top of your screen, giving you easy access to things like screen brightness, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, location services, and just about anything else you want. Let’s say I’m playing a game and decide that I want to conserve battery power by turning off Bluetooth and 3G, and lowering my screen brightness. These are the steps required:
|Apple’s Way||Jailbreak Method|
Don’t forget that the same steps are required to turn everything back on when you are done.
SBSettings also gives you some added control of your status bar. You can display the date next to the time and show the amount of free memory you have.
2. Lockinfo – On a stock phone, all the lockscreen is good for is showing you the time and date. With Lockinfo, it is transformed into a fully interactive screen, capable of displaying appointment’s from your calendar, notify you of missed calls, text messages and email, display a to-do list, weather, and a whole lot more.
3. biteSMS – biteSMS is a great replacement for the default Apple messaging app. The most useful feature for me is Quick Reply. Whenever a message is received, you will be able to read and reply to it without having to leave the app you are currently running. There is a cleverly designed pull down that allows you to read previous messages as well.
4. UA Faker – Have you ever been browsing the web on your iPhone and found a site that forced you to view their crippled mobile version? UA Faker will make it appear like you are browsing from a full desktop browser and give you access to the full page. It can be easily toggled using SBSettings.
5. Activator – Activator is another essential app. It’s packaged with SBSettings and required to enable the swipe across the status bar to launch the settings window. You can assign just about any function to a number of gestures as well as the home and volume buttons. These shortcuts can even be used when the phone is locked and their function can be customized for the lock screen, home screen and from within applications. Combined with an app like “Snappy”, you can have instant access to your camera without even having to unlock your phone. The possibilities are pretty much endless. I have gestures set up for launching the camera, composing a message using biteSMS quick compose, quick access to my lockinfo screen and turning on the led flashlight using Springflash.
6. SwitcherPlus – This app offers some great enhancements to the iOS4 app switcher. First, it gives you access to the app switcher from the lock screen, allowing you to launch apps without having to unlock your phone first. It also lets you choose your favorite apps to always display first in the app switcher. But my favorite feature has to be the “kill prior” option. Triple clicking home will start your app switcher icons wiggling, and you will now see little arrows along with the standard close buttons on each icon. Tapping the arrow will close every app that appears to the right of the arrow. There is an option to exclude apps from being closed when using this function. This is by far the fastest way I have found to close a large number of background apps when you need to free up some memory.
7. Five Icon Dock, FCSB, and Five Icon Switcher – All 3 of these apps serve to add a 5th row of icons to your Dock, Springboard, and Switcher respectively. Used in combination, you will have a total of 25 icons on your screen and your app switcher will also display 5 icons at a time, matching your dock.
8. Shrink and Rename – Once you start to increase the number of icons on your screen, things can start to get a little crowded. You can hunt down a Winterboard theme that uses small icons, but in my experience it’s very difficult to find a theme that contains icons for all of my apps. Rather than spending the time to manually update any missing icons, Shrink is a simple way to scale all icons equally. You can scale the page, dock and switcher icons independently. I find that using 90% for all 3 works very will with the default icons.
Some apps with longer names will overlap one another when you switch to 5 columns. Rename is a simple app that lets you rename your app icons, giving your springboard a much cleaner look.
The following apps could potentially get you in trouble with AT&T, so don’t say I didn’t warn you
9. MyWi 4.0 – MyWi is an amazing tethering app. Run it on your phone and you instantly have a WiFi hotspot using your 3G connection, or if you choose, tether via a USB connection, or use both. It can run in the background, allowing you to use your phone as normal without interrupting your connection. This may be one of the most expensive apps you purchase at $20, but it’s cheaper than paying monthly for tethering. Other tethering apps that I have come across required software to be installed on your PC, messing with proxy settings and just more hassle over all. I have also experienced problems MyWi just works.
10. 3G Unrestrictor – This app will trick your phone into thinking that you are connected to WiFi and allow you to bypass some of the normal 3G restrictions. Some examples are downloading large apps from the app store, viewing full quality videos on youtube, and using Skype on 3G.
There are hundreds of apps available in Cydia and it would be virtually impossible to come up with a list that met everyone’s needs. This list was just a sampling of what is capable after jailbreaking your phone. What are you waiting for?