Jailbreaking the latest Apple devices just became a whole lot easier. Fire up your iOS4 device, point Safari at the web site www.JailBreakMe.com, slide the big button on the main page and you’re done. Considerably easier than some of the arcane methods device owners had to engage in previously to free their devices from Apple’s short leash. The web-based tool works for iPhones, including the latest iPhone 4, as well as other devices like the iPod and iPad running iOS 3.2.1.
In case you’re not familiar with jailbreaking, it’s act of unlocking your device’s file system so that you can install any app you’d like, even those outside the purview of the official app store. This cloud-based jailbreaking method comes hot on the heels of a decision by the U.S. Library of Congress which declared the act of jailbreaking to be legal. Good timing for the hacker who created the code, since Apple can no longer have the site taken down.
So how does the hack work? According to Wired’s Gadget Lab, The hack works through a PDF exploit in Mobile Safari. Comex, a member of the iPhone Dev Team (the jailbreaking people), uses Safari’s PDF decoder to run the code. Because Safari automatically opens PDFs, the jailbreak code is run. Expect Apple to close this hole in an update, if only for security purposes.
Perhaps the more important question is why would you want to jailbreak your Apple device? Most who do so, cite gaining access to sites like Cydia, the unofficial app store where you can download apps not approved for sale by Apple. Some of the ‘rogue’ apps available at these sites include MyWi, which turns phones into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, and IntelliScreen, which lets users put e-mail and calendars on their home screens.
Rumors also seem to indicate that unlocked iPhones can conduct video chats over 3G networks instead of just on Wi-Fi. Of course, jailbroken phones can technically be used on networks other than AT&T, the official network for the iPhone and 3G version of the iPad. Your options are limited to T-Mobile however, as the devices are not compatible at the hardware level with either Verizon or Sprint.
If you decide that jailbreaking is for you, be aware of what you’re getting you and your device into. Jailbreaking may void your warranty and may cause your device to behave erratically. It practically goes without saying that a proper backup prior to jailbreaking is a prudent precaution. If need be, you can always reverse the process by connecting your device to your computer, performing a sync and restore via iTunes.