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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Thoughts on Jailbreaking

I finally jailbroke my iPhone.

I was never particularly interested in doing it.  Even though I have been frustrated with the unnecessary limitations of the iPhone imposed by Apple/Jobs.  I know this surprises people who know me – they’ve told me so.  Why haven’t I?  Because over time I have transformed form a gadget-happy tinkerer to someone who just wants these tools to work.

This is in-part due to my experiences with a particular kind of tool: the smart phone.  On Windows Mobile and BB smart phones, I would try 3rd-party software and then quickly delete after crashes and negative battery performance.  I’ve had few similar experiences like that with the iPhone.  The 3rd-party tools add significant utility to the phone but generally don’t break it.  This change in my thinking isn’t just for phones:  I’m shipping back my PopBox today.  Lots of promise, but it just doesn’t work for me with my video formats, and my NAS. 

But I digress.

There are a few things that have bothered me about the iPhone.  None of these are hardware problems, just things I think it should be possible to do with a non-jailbroken phone:

  • I don’t want to unlock my phone to see if I have any email. 
  • I want notification profile support like on the Blackberry.  I loved the feature where you can put your phone into the silent profile and have exceptions.  Travelling and don’t want your phone to wake you up, but want to accept calls from your family in case of emergency?  No problem.
  • I don’t want to navigate around to change a simple setting (like turning off Bluetooth or WiFi).
  • I want to use a Google Voice native app.  The mobile Web app is quite good, but it takes too many steps to make a call – and too much time waiting for the page to load. 

Long story short, I now can do all of these things and I am much happier about my phone. 

The full story, though is that I jailbroke before a week of vacation during which I had no way of restoring my phone.  As a result, I kind of screwed it up and didn’t feel like risking uninstalling some apps without a failsafe.  I got home and fixed it (without the failsafe).  All good, but it does leave me feeling that jailbreaking really isn’t for everyone.  As easy as the jailbreakme.com site is, it certainly makes the phone more complex.  I’m OK with the increased complexity – I’m still a gadget-happy tinkerer deep down – but I couldn’t imagine a non-techie dealing with it.

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