Hacking your iPhone to run unofficial, third-party apps may seem unnecessary since Apple hosts its own App Store. But the corporation’s recently enforced prohibitions on some apps, such as the banning of Google Voice, are reviving the incentive for customers to jailbreak their iPhones once again.
Thanks to Cydia, an unauthorized app store open to jailbroken iPhones, consumers can still access some software that Apple won’t allow. Think free text-messaging and cheap international calls thanks to a Google Voice app that Apple banned. Or features that we can’t have yet, such as multimedia messaging and tethering. Here, we round up a list of the most compelling reasons to jailbreak your iPhone.
1. Google Voice
Apple recently rejected and banned Google Voice apps from its App Store. The apps would have augmented the search giant’s new voice service, which enables users to rely on a single phone number to ring all their phones, while also delivering the gift of free text messages, voicemail service and cheap international calls. The move stirred so much controversy that even the Federal Communications Commission is inquiring about the prohibition.
Thankfully in the Cydia store there’s GV Mobile, an unofficial Google Voice app. In light of Apple’s blanket ban of Google Voice apps, GV Mobile is the no. 1 reason to jailbreak your iPhone (if you weren’t one of the lucky few to grab a copy before Apple banned it). Overall the app is really sweet, despite having room to improve in terms of performance (connecting to Google’s server each time you launch the app can be a drag). Your contacts list is nicely integrated into the phone dialer and SMS sender; the overall UI is slick and cool. After a few minutes you’ll be sending free text messages, and maybe even dialing your relatives in Taiwan for once with cheap international VOIP calls. The best part? The app’s free.
2. Unrestricted 3G Privileges
AT&T iPhone owners pay $30 per month for “unlimited” 3G data access. But your access isn’t truly unlimited, thanks to restrictions that Apple imposed on some apps. SlingPlayer, an app that streams television from a Slingbox device, was crippled to work only on a Wi-Fi connection at the request of Apple and AT&T. And the Skype VOIP app only works on Wi-Fi, too, rendering it impractical.
This is where 3G Unrestrictor comes in handy. The $2 app enables jailbroken iPhone users to select any app that they wish to use over 3G, including Skype and SlingPlayer. Also, by default the App Store won’t let you download files larger than 10MB on the 3G network, and 3G Unrestrictor will remove that regulation, too. Free your apps and download away!
Apple promised the new iPhone 3.0 OS would deliver tethering, but AT&T customers have yet to see that promise fulfilled. AT&T promised tethering would arrive “late summer.” Well, we’re waiting, and it’s not here yet. Some iPhone 3.0 users have figured out a roundabout way to turn on tethering without hacking, but that solution is only temporary.
Guess what? There’s a tethering app in Cydia, too. It’s a $5 app called Tether. The steps on setting up tethering aren’t as simple as Apple’s, but hey, you don’t even have to pay a monthly fee to use the service. The app even includes a feature to set a data cap in case you’re worried about extra charges incurred on your account if AT&T catches you tethering. It’s a little rough around the edges thanks to the network setup taking a few minutes, but we still love it.
4. Overseas Travel
Need to travel? Your iPhone can only go so far thanks to its carrier-tied SIM card, unless you wish to receive bills up the nostril thanks to international roaming costs. Jailbreaking will actually enable you to follow a process to unlock your iPhone to work with other carriers’ SIM cards overseas.
5. Pissing off Apple
Whether you’re a developer who has a beef with Apple, or if you’re a consumer who’s pissed at Apple, or if you’re a kid whose puppy was run over by an employee of Apple, then you may want to exact revenge by jailbreaking your iPhone. That’s because Apple clearly doesn’t like it when users jailbreak their iPhones. The company claims the process is illegal, and goes as far as to say jailbreaking will crash cellphone towers. So far these are empty threats, although buyer beware: Future court decisions, laws or FCC regulations may put teeth into Apple’s claims.
6. Pissing off AT&T
Frustrated with AT&T’s brainless customer service, spotty network reception and passive-aggressive totalitarian rule over the App Store? Jailbreaking for any of the reasons above will piss off AT&T, mostly by enabling your applications to use its 3G network without restriction. Or, if you like, you can take your protest a step further and unlock your jailbroken phone, enabling it to work with with T-Mobile or any other GSM-based carrier. It’s not a tea party, it’s an AT&T party!