Sunday, July 07, 2013

Book Review: Jailbreak!: Free your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

Jailbreaking is one of the more confusing aspects of using an iPhone and this book explains every aspect of jailbreaking:  risks, rewards and caveats in a clear and easy to understand format for even the non-technical people who would never dream of jailbreaking.

First, the author makes clear the distinction between the relatively low risk jailbreaking and the high-risk unlocking.  Jailbreaking is a software modification to your phone that allows you to make changes to the iOS and is legal at least until 2015 in the US.  

Due to the previously questionable legal status of jailbreaking and the risks involved, few of the traditional companies have come out with books on the subject.  That’s a shame because when done properly, jailbreaking is safe and legal and can be quite useful for those who need a bit more features on their iPhone rather than what Apple has to offer.

After explaining what jailbreaking is and why you might do it, the author explains exactly the process of how to do it making sure you can return to factory spec status if necessary. The explanation is detailed although only Mac instructions are included.  Windows users won’t find the same handholding Mac users get in this book.

With your newly jailbroken phone, the next set of chapters introduces the App Store of jailbreakers:  Cydia.  Once you realize that Cydia isn’t some seedy pirate site but a legitimate way to buy apps, it’s really amazing everything that’s out there.  Sure, there are some, pardon the pun, bad Apples out there and the buyer should beware and be aware, ratings and research will keep you safe and the author gives some good guidelines on staying away from problem apps.

Finally, armed with a jailbroken phone and a Cydia account, the world is your oyster for tweaks, modifications, and enhancements of your iOS device.  Fun stuff like themes and visual effects to more practical items such as home screen shortcuts and ways to sweep up your iPhone and increase your battery life.  Awesome functionality that Apple frequently includes in the next versions of iOS.  Want iOS 7 functionality now?  Much of it is already available to jailbroken phones.

Most of all this book gives the reader confidence to give it a go realizing they won’t damage their phone, void their warranty or go to jail and, if they don’t like it, they can easily revert back to a stock version.  Don’t pay some questionable tech from Craigslist to jailbreak your iPhone:  do it yourself!.

Pros:  Great explanation of the features and the slight risks of jailbreaking
Cons:  Could use better instructions for those on Windows.