General Info: The What & The Why of Jailbreaking So, you've heard about jailbreaking, and it sounds intriguing. And dangerous. (But mostly just intriguing.) Here's how to hack your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad—yes, iPad—into an unrestricted, freshly empowered mega-machine. In buying an iProduct, you're accepting that its fate will be dictated by Apple. They control what kind of apps you install on your device, which of the hardware functions you can exploit to their full potential, and which carrier you can use your iPhone with. They've loosened up on at least one of those fronts in the last year or so, expanding the types of apps available in the App Store, but many—screw that, most—of the same restrictions still apply. Want to install an app that Apple hasn't explicitly approved? Sorry. Want to use an app over 3G that's been designated for Wi-Fi? Nope. Want to change your apps' icons? Install system-wide gestures? Record video on iPhone 3G? No. Such. Luck. Enter jailbreaking. In technical terms, to jailbreak is to enable a device to run code, meaning programs or system modifications, that hasn't been sanctioned by Apple. Its roots reach back to a time when there were no apps for iPhone OS, and a clever group of hackers zeroed in on some exploits gave people their first way to install apps on their devices, by way of an underground App Store called Installer. It used to be that you could hack your device simply by visiting a webpage. That was two years ago. Since then, the iPhone and iPod Touch have been given a legit App Store, Apple has closed one security hole after another, and jailbreaking has become alternately more and less difficult, depending which device and software version you have. Recently, a Windows and Mac tool called Spirit was released to the world. It's simple, relatively safe, and, at the time of it's release, worked on all devices. Every iPod Touch could be jailbroken to run custom apps. Every iPhone, too. Even the brand new iPad could be hacked. Unfortunately, Spirit is no longer universal. Different combinations - iPhone, iOS 4.0, iTunes 9.2, etc. - have broken the tool. However, there are other tools out there as well, so only a small percentage of users will be unable to jailbreak. Find out what group you're in below. So.. theming, data tethering (sans-AT&T), console emulation, secret settings, and much more: With jailbreak, your iThing is truly yours. How To Jailbreak Three iDevices exist; the iPhone, the iPod touch, and the iPad. There are four generations of iPhone, three of iPod touch, just one of iPad. There are numerous versions of device software, the same applying with basebands and bootloaders. (You don't need to understand those terms.) As such, there are more than 50 combinations of these things that you might have. This, as you probably guessed, makes it difficult for you to understand what jailbreak to use, and for me to link to all the right guides. There's just too much to fit in this post. Thankfully, there's a website called Jailbreak Matrix that is esentially a giant chart pointing you in the right direction. The site is located here - take a look. It's quite useful. If there's a jailbreak for your combination, it'll read "Yes" under "jailbreak options", and that "yes" will be blue - click on it, and you'll be taken to the proper guide. After the dity work is done, head back for advice on what to install after the jailbreak, and a Q&A in case things go bad. Post-Jailbreak When you restart your device, you'll see a new icon on your homescreen, called Cydia. Open it up. This is your new App Store. Don't worry, the regular App Store still works. Now you've just got another one. Cydia will look a bit different on the iPad and iPhone or iPod Touch, but will contain most of the same software. The first thing you need to do, though, is click the button that says, "Make my life easier, thanks!" This will back up your device activation profile (called an SHSH blob) to remote servers, which ensures that you won't lose the ability to jailbreak if you accidentally upgrade your device device software in the future. More on that later. Regarding Unlocking Traditionally, unlocking (opening your phone to use with different carriers) and jailbreaking have fallen to the same tools. Since unlocking has become more difficult with later firmwares, the tools have grown apart. If you want to unlock, though, there may be hope. I've never unlocked and know very little about it. However, the same website described above will help you out. Check out Jailbreak Matrix. Anyway, that's it! It's time to explore Cydia. Special thanks to Saurik, the man behind Cydia, and the indefatigable Comex, for discovering the first userland jailbreak in a loooooooong time. Awesome work, guys. Also, thanks to Gizmodo's John Herrman - many parts of this guide (in fact, the majority of it) came from John's original posted here on Giz.