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Jailbreaking 101

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Should You Jailbreak Your iPad?

"To jailbreak, or not to jailbreak, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the loss and outrage of denied apps, or to take up arms against the app store dictators by opposing them."

If Hamlet were alive today, his famous speech may have gone something like that. Apple has at times presided over the App Store like a dictator, sometimes allowing their own interests to override the interest of their users. Of course, sticking it to "the man" really isn't the best reason to jailbreak your device, but there are some good reasons to help your iPad escape from it's Apple-imposed prison.

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Good Reasons to Jailbreak:

  • Access to apps not found on the App Store. The obvious reason to jailbreak is to get access to those apps that Apple did not approve for the App Store. Apple has strict guidelines on what is allowed and what is not allowed, with apps that access certain features of the device or replicate default features often getting the book. For example, an app that switched Bluetooth on or off would be handy to have on your main, but because it accesses a part of the device that Apple doesn't want developers touching, it would be denied for the App Store.
  • Greater customization. Along with third-party apps that wouldn't make it through Apple's approval process comes a lot of tools that will let you customize your iPad experience. These include different skins for the device, customized sounds, the ability to place an app on any part of the home screen grid or even customizing the home button to shut down all of your running apps at once.
  • More access. Because jailbreaking frees up access to parts of the device that Apple would normally restrict, it gives users much greater control over the device. This allows users to have greater access to the file system and even unlocks the ability to communicate with the device from another device, which means you can connect your iPad to your PC and have greater control over what you can see and do.

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Good Reasons Not to Jailbreak

  • It's technical. There are some inherent risks to jailbreaking. Not only does it void the warranty, which means you can't go down to your local App Store and asks the people manning the Genius Bar to help you out with problems. Also, while rare, it is possible to 'brick' your device during the process if you don't follow the instructions correctly. This results in a useless device. Suffice to say, if tinkering with your device makes you nervous, you should not be jailbreaking it.
  • It opens up your device. While the idea of malware overrunning the Cydia and Icy app stores is sometimes blown out of proportion, the device itself is definitely more vulnerable to attack. Several worms that only hit jailbroken devices have been reported, and because there isn't an approval process, it is easier for malware to exist in the third-party app stores. This makes it more important to do the research on apps you download rather than just reading the app store description and tapping the install button.
  • Updates become more of a hassle. You cannot update a jailbroken iPad without erasing the jailbreak. This means you will need to re-jailbreak the device after updating the operating system. This includes downloading all of those custom apps again.
  • More crashes. Another side effect of a jailbroken iPad is that it is more likely to crash. Because apps available for jailbroken devices can access features and APIs not available for Apple-approved apps, these features may not be tested as well and may not interact as smoothly.
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