I’ve never had the predilection to jailbreak my iPhone, up until recently that is. Lurking at the forefront of my mind were many questions, which led to apprehension, which led to me giving up on the idea.
My mind recently changed, and there are a few factors that contributed to this:
- Absinthe 2.0 proved to a dead simple tool to jailbreak.
- iCloud would continue to work, even whilst jailbroken. Also, it would be dead easy to put my iPhone 4S back into DFU mode and restore from an iCloud backup.
- Most important of all, a few very interesting and incredibly neat apps on Cydia that extended functionality.
Initially what piqued my interest was an app called Zephyr by Chpwn. What Zephyr does is change some existing functionality in iOS’ Springboard, but at the same time adds a few new things. Notably it adds single or two-finger gestures for surfacing the multi-tasking tray, gestures for switching between apps (basically what you get on an iPad with four-finger gestures), and swiping up to exit out of an app. Currently the way Notification Center works in iOS 5 is that when you swipe down from the top, the tray pulls down over top of the content. In Zephyr, pulling the Notification Center tray down pushes the content off the screen (in the same way that surfacing the multi-tasking tray or opening folders does). I’ve been immensely enjoying the multi-tasking gestures and ability to open the multi-tasking tray (it means I don’t need to reach for the home button anymore). When you delve into Zephyr’s app settings, you will find you have greater control than you thought on all available gestures. By default, the app uses single finder gestures, however if you find this interferes with regular app actions, you can change this to two-finger style. It also smartly defaults to disabling gestures when the software keyboard is open (that way you don’t clumsily exit out of what you’re doing). You can even go farther down the rabbit hole than this. In settings, you will find per-app settings where you can disable multi-tasking gestures. I had to do this for some apps like Instacast, where the app itself has a swipe up from the bottom gesture that tends to conflict.
One of the features that Android 4.1 brought was a built-in way of tracking your data usage (and even preferences to limit the data you consume). WeeTrackData is a very minimalist widget that lives inside Notification Center that does this. You can swipe left to view how much data you have consumed monthly, from the last seven days, and today. One of my favourite features is how you can monitor how close to reaching your monthly data cap you are. Inside the app’s settings, you will find options to specify when your billing cut-off date is, and an option to set the monthly allotted data cap.
There’s no question that the battery life on my iPhone 4S is appalling. In comparison to my iPhone 4 — which more or less ran the same apps — I can’t get through a full eight hour work day without having to charge the phone. I’ve tried restoring from a previous iCloud backup, and even clean installs. This has been a problem since the phone came out of the box. Of course, I’m not alone in this case, and it just seems to be a fundamental problem with the hardware. Sadly, the only options I had prior to jailbreaking were to manually turn off the radios or put my phone into Airplane mode when I wasn’t using it — neither solution really excited me.
BattSaver is an app available through Cydia. Its purpose is with single focus — to help save your battery life. What it does power profiles, whereby it will turn off radios when they’re not in use. The app tries to intelligently decide what radios need to be turned off when you lock the screen, although you have full ability to use a custom profile and explicitly tell it what radios you want on, and when. BattSaver defaults to ‘Normal’ mode, but you get the following options: None, Normal, Aggressive, Ultimate, and Custom.
Other than changing power profiles, the app logs your usage and graphs it out for you — thus allowing you at a glance to see how well it’s working. I’ve been testing this app for several days now, and I can say with delight that I can get through a full days use without having to charge my phone by 6pm.
All in all I’m quite pleasantly surprised by my jailbreaking experience. It’s been about a week now, and I haven’t noticed any instability issues. I have only gained the benefit of being able to tweak a few things here and there that I otherwise would not have been capable of doing before. One thing I have tried to do is not go crazy with third party OS tweaks. I’ve tried to keep things simple by only modifying a few key areas that were bugging me about iOS. The Cydia store is chock full of third party OS tweaks that add a plethora of features, yet some will be negated by iOS 6. It remains to be seen if I’ll still be jailbroken by the time iOS 6 comes out. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.