Opinionated World

Blog Tech Thoughts

Transforming iOS: Jailbreaking

As an Apple fanboy, I’ve always been very much against the people who jailbreak their iPhones. I always said “why?” and never saw a reason for it. I don’t feel that I was wrong in my initial opinion of it – I still believe that jailbreaking in its early days would’ve given me very little extra. Since then though, things have changed. Jailbreaking tweaks and themes are now available in their thousands and while some remain buggy rubbish, others – as I’ll explain later – actually provide some pretty hefty benefits.

Since the release of the iPhone and iOS in 2007, the general look and feel of the operating system have remained much the same – as we wrote about previously. In this time, Android has developed, changed and implemented a whole host of new features, upgrades and improvements. Android was another thing I never liked, something that wasn’t as refined or as stable as iOS. An operating system that, in my mind was comparable to Windows; when I’m an out and out Mac user. It had bugs, poor applications and mostly nasty hardware. iOS and the incredibly well made iPhone were the combination to have.

iOS then and now comparison. 2007 / 2012.

iOS then and now comparison. 2007 / 2012.

Over the past year, my opinions have changed slightly. I think the iPhone hardware remains second to none and the Camera is also exceptional but I’ve also grown to like Android. There are currently only two Android devices on the market that I’d own (I’m still not a fan of the Samsung Galaxy S3‘s gimmicky features) – and those are the Google Nexus 4 and the Sony Xperia Z. As Matt pointed out, Android is best when it’s not skinned by the companies manufacturing the devices.

Android is now a stable operating system, with a lot of decent handsets running it. It sees regular updates, as well as new features and improvements. Some of the apps still aren’t brilliant, but for the most part they’re just as good as their iOS counterparts. I considered a switch to Android for the first time ever last month but have decided it’s simply not going to happen. After nearly six years of using iOS and the rest of the Apple eco-system, I’m very much tied in. Of course, this is exactly what Apple planned when they created some brilliant new services such as iTunes Match and iMessage. For me to switch now would be such a difficult task. From moving all my iCloud synced bookmarks from Safari to Chrome, leaving iMessage (which I use extensively) altogether, losing PhotoStream and the hundreds of pounds of Apps I’ve paid for, making iTunes Match redundant and mostly – switching from my iCloud email which has 8 years of emails stored in it.

Auxo - re-imagining the multi-tasking bar.

Auxo – re-imagining the multi-tasking bar.

Despite considering a switch and finally telling myself I had become bored of iOS, I’ve found a way of making my phone interesting again. Jailbreaking.

Evasi0n, the first jailbreak for iOS6 and the iPhone 5 was released a few weeks ago and saw unprecedented numbers of downloads over the first few days. Cydia (the software that allows a user to find and download tweaks, themes and apps on a jailbroken device) servers were inundated and completely overloaded. Not the best of starts for me then, after I decided to give it a try!

When it did work though, I found myself downloading recommended tweaks and enjoying them. Creating an environment I was happy with. I have to say; Evasi0n is the best software update my phone has ever had.

It has given iOS a whole new lease of life for me, with just a few tweaks. I’ve made very few visual changes and stuck mostly to improving on the features that were already there. Auxo has re-imagined the multi-tasking bar, giving you a preview of the apps that are open and allowing you to simply flick down to quit, as well as a handy ‘quit all’ option – no more tapping twenty wiggling icons!

Smaller bars and quick settings.

Smaller bars and quick settings.

Zephyr has introduced an array of brilliant gestures. I now have no need to use the home button anymore – I simply swipe up to close an app, or swipe and very briefly (0.1 seconds) hold to see the multi-tasking bar.

Stride has given me a different unlock screen that allows me to draw a pre-determined doodle rather than typing a code. Smaller things such as Open Notifier that displays a small icon in the status bar, telling me whether I have new emails or messages are super handy. Shortcuts from Activator that allow me to short-hold on the status bar to open the camera app from anywhere in the OS save me time. NCSettings places a quick settings bar in the notification centre and Springtomize allows me to put the Notification Center right on the lock screen. SleepFX gives me a cool, very Android, TV Tube sleep animation (it’s the small things that make a difference!) and DietBar trims the top and bottom bars of all apps, giving you a few more pixels of app-space. Springtomize also allowed me to speed up all the animations, so now everything feels even quicker (honestly).

My new homescreen and notifying icons.

My new homescreen and notifying icons.

Do you hate the low battery intrusive pop-up boxes as much as me? Well, LowPowerBanner removes that in favour of a notification style banner – so much nicer. Forecast improves the lock screen clock to include current weather and StyleUnlock lets me just flick up to unlock. Infinifolders allows you to have an unlimited number of apps in a folder, with the ability to scroll through them which is handy if you’re an app-hoarder.

I can honestly say that I’m now happy with the way my phone looks – there are some time saving tweaks, some nice visual changes and some features that frankly, I wonder how I ever did without. I don’t recommend that everyone goes and does this because it’s still a little fiddly and even when I thought everything was going swimmingly, I did have to do a complete restore back to iOS6 just an hour after I first jailbroke!

I would recommend that if you try this, you should stay away from Winterboard tweaks and themes. Reguarly, they don’t work and that was also the theming program that temporarily bricked my phone.

But, if it’s small, noticeable changes and improvements you’re after and you do know your way around technology then why not give it a try? You can always restore back to iOS if it’s not for you. What I do know, is that Evasi0n has transformed my iPhone 5.


2 comments on “Transforming iOS: Jailbreaking
  1. Thil29 on said:

    It’s funny that for a second I thought i’d found a person with almost identical views as myself on iOS but later rejected this when I got down to the jailbreaking part. 99% of jailbreaking apps/tweaks are useless as they bring no functionality to the phone (stressing the word functionality) Looks, themes and animations don’t bring any functionality what so ever! There are only a few jailbroken apps that I appreciate and would ever use and that’s why I dont jailbreak. Only people who are obsessed with iphones and like flashing it around showing friends their ‘cool’ animations will need to jailbreak.

  2. Hi there, thanks very much for the comment.

    I agree with you that there’s a lot of garbage floating around the Cydia app store and you do indeed have to filter all this out – in-fact, it’s best to stick to the “top 10 cydia tweaks” guides or read blog posts like this one to find out what does actually work – that’s what I did. It’s just about using common sense and not installing everything just for the hell of it.

    Aside from the sleep effect animation, there’s nothing I’ve added that has made a visual change. Sure, I’ve tweaked icon size (they’re actually slightly bigger now, with fewer in a row) and removed the dock but otherwise, everything has been installed for a purpose.

    I still believe iOS is the best Operating System, however, I do feel it needs updating; as mentioned above. Hence, brilliant, well re-fined and regularly updated tweaks like Zephyr and Auxo DO make a difference to everyday use. Even if you didn’t change the visuals of the OS at all, those alone would make a stark difference.

Leave a Reply