JBnator Diaries – Why the hell do I Jailbreak?


Looking back on my JBnator Diaries articles I have noticed one quite obvious thing missing. I’ve written quite a lot about how to jailbreak, how to upgrade jailbroken phones, and how to fix various issues. I have even posted on how to revert your “Jesus” phone to its virgin state. But I haven’t yet written why I think jailbreaking is worth it. So listen one, listen all – today I will describe what drives and keeps on driving me to jailbreak my iPhone.

I have been nurturing this article in my mind for quite some time now. I have decided it would be best to keep it simple. I’m not going to say anything pathos-filled about sticking it to the Man or the dictatorship of the big A. Those, deeming this important don’t need any other reasons to jailbreak. Rather, I will outline the benefits I see in setting your iPhone free. I will describe what I jailbroke my iPhone for and also list some apps that I don’t use personally, but consider noteworthy as well.

First of all – my top 5 reasons for jailbreaking:

  1. SBSettings
    Doesn’t it really frustrate you that to do such simple things as turn on/off  Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Aeroplane mode and other basic functions you have to go through multiple layers of Settings? Well – it frustrates me as hell. And with SBSettings all of the toggles are right at your fingertips – just a swipe on the taskbar and you have all of the toggles right at your fingertips! And more – you can jot down a quick note, use the built-in dock for applications, hide icons, etc. I won’t go into complete detail now – I plan to do a thorough review of SBSettings in the coming weeks as part of the JBnator Column.
    My installed additional toggle: Autolock, Tethering, Push
    My theme: Apple Congruency
  2. QuickSMS
    Let’s be frank – Apple’s stock SMS application leaves a LOT to be desired. It takes quite a while to load, it doesn’t allow you to assign custom sms tones to individual contacts… it doesn’t even allow you to have custom ringtones at all. And don’t even get me started on the delivery reports – how the hell could Apple NOT implement such a simple and basic feature?! Well, rejoice, QuickSMS has all of that and even more! Much much more! As with SBSettings I won’t go into too much detail – rather look for a review as part of the column in the coming weeks. I would like to note that as part of the package you also get QuickCalendar (a calendar on your lockscreen), QuickBirthdays (birthday alerts on your lockscreen) and QuickWidgets (Lockscreen customization with a heel of a lot of functions – from notes to one-tap calls and more).
  3. Five Icon Dock
    Well, not much to say here – the tweak does exactly what the name supposes – It allows you to dock an additional icon to the bottom of the screen. It’s invaluable to me since I just have to have the Phone, Mail, SMS/MMS, Safari and iPod apps there.
  4. ScummVM
    Anybody who has been following my articles, news and reviews on TMA by now knows that I am an adventure games fanatic. And for any true adventure games fan the Scumm acronym means a lot. For everybody else I’ll explain – it is the name of the engine used in the creation of Lucasarts games, from Secret of Monkey island to Sam & Max to Dig and many other titles. The app however is much much more. The ScummVM team have been working for years to add support for other titles and the amount working with the app now is simply stunning. Btw, some of you may have had an experience with the app, since the Flight of the Amazon Queen, Simon the Sorceror 1 and 2 and Inherit the Earth games, available on the AppStore, are actually PC versions bundled with ScummVM. And the lucky users of jailbroken phones can experience the full list of games for FREE! Provided they have the original game files of course. Anyway, this is another app having a review from me pending in the coming issues of JBnator Diaries.
  5. Notifier
    This is another little app/tweak that does what Apple should’ve provided in the very first release of iPhone OS. You can finally have taskbar notifications for such things as Unread Mail, Missed Calls, IM messages (Beejive and IM+ along with many others supported), etc. Even more – you can set the time the notifications are active. I’m not yet sure whether I will cover this one separately, but it is a must have for me.

Other jailbroken apps on my “Jesus” phone (in no particular order):

  • WinterBoard
    Why Apple doesn’t support interface customization is a mystery to me. But with this you can make your iPhone like anything you want. There even is an HTC Diamond UI Theme I think. This is a sure review as part of the column, so look forward to it.
    Warning: A big memory hog (10-20MB depending on active themes). Get the following app to play resource heavy games on iPhone 2G and 3G.
  • SwapMode
    This is a life-saver app that allows to toggle all of the extensions installed after Jailbreaking. This allows me to temporarily disable all of them to free up resources and allows me to comfortably play games that are extremely resource heavy (ones that really required this to date are Karnival and Command & Conquer), but your mileage may vary.
  • iFile
    The best file browser on the iPhone. Period. Has everything, from integrated file viewers (image, videos, music, documents – you name it) to permission setting to Wi-Fi HTML Server to provide an Browser friendly way to check out your iPhone contents from any desktop. And more. And all of this is available in free version. There also is a paid version with even more features. Another review pending – so wait for it (I will also try to grab the paid version to make it an as complete review as possible)
  • Lock Calendar
    This is just a simple tweak that displays my upcoming calendar appointments on the lockscreen. It is configurable with the max number of entries, days ahead and other stuff. And it’s completely free. A must have.
  • RandomRing
    Tired of having the same ringtone? Well, it’s easy – just choose the tones you want to cycle through and each new call will surprise you with a new sound. Easy and Free!
  • SpotBright
    This is more of carryover from when I used Categories (see below) and allows the built-in search function to look through hidden as well as displayed apps. Very convenient.
  • SpotSMS
    Another Spotlight enhancer – now the built-in search engine will also look through your SMS and MMS database, as well as Contacts, Notes and Mail.

Phew. Not that many, are there? But I’m not exactly a power user. For people looking to really maximize their iPhone output – I’ll list other notable apps on Cydia which I don’t use at the current moment.

  • Categories
    A very useful app for those who have loads of apps. It’s basically a complete folder system for your phone, allowing you to keep your apps in order. There is also a paid version which completely integrates with the SpringBoard and makes browsing the folders a quick as flicking through pages. Personally, I stopped using Categories because I got frustrated with the long time it took my 3G to open the folders (that was before the paid version was released) and I don’t have that many apps anyway. But it is literally a lifesaver for many.
  • ScreenSplitr/Landscape TV Out
    Very useful for making presentations and recording demos. These apps allow to stream the contents of the iPhone screen using the TV-Out cable (and not just the iPod and Photo apps). I don’t use it since I don’t have such a cable :) maybe in the future!
  • Backgrounder+Multifl0w
    One of the most taunted flaws of the iPhone is its lack of proper multitasking. Well, now there’s an app for that! Or a tandem of them actually. Backgrounder is an OS tweak that allows to keep apps running in the background instead of closing them and is completely free. Multifl0w is a paid app, however, but adds a Palm Pre-like interface to managing background processes. These both are great apps, but since I only have a 3G I don’t simply have enough memory to keep things running in the background. As soon as I upgrade, however, I will immediately pick them up!
  • Cycorder
    Allows you to record video on any iPhone version with decent quality. Never had a need for that personally though.
  • iBlacklist
    Allows to make a list of numbers to automatically reject calls from, as well as other functions. May useful for some, not for me though.

    Blacklist is the best call blocker and SMS/MMS selector available for the iPhone. It ables you to select from who you want to receive calls and hide messages. It also removes the sms popup preview protecting your privacy, has parental control mode by blocking outgoing calls, can be fully scheduled and many other features. Try it , you’ll love it. Runs on 3.X and 2.x !!! PLEASE RESTART YOUR DEVICE AFTER INSTALL.\n\nIT WON’T RESET YOUR CURRENT DATABASE!!!

And for the real retro-gamers the famous ZodTTD has ported a number of emulators that allow to play various console games (up to Playstation 1!) on the iPhone. Here’s a list of the emulators:

  • gameboy4iphone – Gameboy and Gameboy Advance
  • genesis4iphone – Sega Genesis
  • mame4iphone – Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator
  • nes4iphone – Nintendo Entertainment System
  • psx4iphone – Sony Playstation 1 (required 3G S to have playable speed)
  • quake4iphone – Quake 1 – fully playable
  • snes4iphone – Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  • temper4iphone – TurboGrafx-16/CD Emulator

And that’s it folks. If what I’ve written here does not interest you, maybe Jailbreaking is really not your thing. For me though – it is a lifesaver and makes the iPhone really an integral part of my day-to-day activities, as well as minimizing the frustration of using it.

And if you have any Jailbroken apps you’d like me to review – leave a comment and I’ll do  my best. Cheers!

A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well): http://twitter.com/ChiffaNe

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