Many people are talking about restrictions in Apple’s operating system iOS for their mobile devices.

They obviously miss the point that these restrictions are well-considered and part of Apple’s strategy of seamless usage and a perfect user experience within an ecosystem which is developed for serving people.


What does ‘Jailbreaking’ mean?

iOS jailbreaking is the process of removing the limitations on Apple’s iOS devices through the use of software and hardware exploits; such devices include the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and second-generation Apple TV. Jailbreaking permits root access to the iOS operating system, allowing the download of additional applications, extensions, and themes that are unavailable through the official Apple App Store.

Jailbreaking is a form of privilege escalation. The name refers to breaking the device out of its “jail”. Jailbroken devices can still use the App Store, iTunes, and other normal functions, such as making telephone calls. Many other built-in features are no longer available.
Restoring a device with iTunes or iCloud removes the jailbreak.

Jailbreaks (JB) are not supported by Apple, quite the contrary, Apple fights against it and people jailbreaking a device violate Apple’s iOS End-User License Agreement (EULA). JB can make your device less secure and you may loose the warranty. If people do not accept the original operating system with its limitations it might be better for them to move over to an other platform like Android. Additionally JB is illegitimate in some countries because DRM (Digital Rights Management) can be affected.

The main part of the agreement is

“2 c. You may not, and you agree not to or enable others to, copy (except as expressly permitted by this License), decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, attempt to derive the source code of, decrypt, modify, or create derivative works of the iOS Software or any services provided by the iOS Software or any part thereof (except as and only to the extent any foregoing restriction is prohibited by applicable law or by licensing terms governing use of open-source components that may be included with the iOS Software).”

Jailbreaking a device is a kind of ‘reverse engineering’.

Reverse Engineering
Reverse engineering is the process of discovering the technological principles of a device, object, or system through analysis of its structure, function, and operation. It often involves disassembling something and analyzing its components and workings in detail – for either purposes of maintenance or to support creation of a new device or program that does the same thing, without using or simply duplicating (without understanding) the original.
Jailbreaking is a kind of reverse engineering and users jailbreaking their iOS devices infringe Apple’s EULA which they already accepted when setting up the device.

Fair use seems to be safe ground for reverse engineers, almost always using it as a defense. However:

An EULA is a legally binding contract.

If a user agrees to terms which are in conflict with fair use, the user has effectively waved their rights to fair use.

Legal Aspects of Reverse Engineering

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act …

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was put into place in 1998 in order to make any service or device with purpose of undermining or removing DRM (Digital Rights Management) copyright infringement. The act forbids any service or device from being designed to circumvent, or even being marketed to circumvent any DRM.
There is, however, an exception in the DMCA stating that reverse engineering can be done under the purposes of inter-operability between software components. It states the following:

  • Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a)(1)(A), a person who has lawfully obtained the right to use a copy of a computer program may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and that have not previously been readily available to the person engaging in the circumvention, to the extent any such acts of identification and analysis do not constitute infringement under this title.
  • Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a)(2) and (b), a person may develop and employ technological means to circumvent a technological measure, or to circumvent protection afforded by a technological measure, in order to enable the identification and analysis under paragraph (1), or for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, if such means are necessary to achieve such interoperability, to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title.
  • The information acquired through the acts permitted under paragraph (1), and the means permitted under paragraph (2), may be made available to others if the person referred to in paragraph (1) or (2), as the case may be, provides such information or means solely for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title or violate applicable law other than this section.

    For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘interoperability’ means the ability of computer programs to exchange information, and of such programs mutually to use the information which has been exchanged.

Fair use does still apply. However, it is not fair use to gain unauthorized access to copyrighted work.

Further information …

Apple wants iOS to remain secure on the whole, and jailbreaking can threaten that. Apple identifies these concerns:

  • Security
    Jailbreaking removes the security layers on iOS devices.
  • Instability
    Jailbreaking causes an iPhone to behave erratically.
  • Shortened battery life
    Jailbreaking apps and services may not run correctly which may drain your battery.
  • Unreliable voice and data
  • Disruption of services
    Services such as Visual Voicemail, Weather and Stocks have been disrupted. iCloud, Exchange and Apple Push notification all suffer (according to Apple) on jailbroken devices.
  • Inability to update
    Because Apple frequently removes jailbroken software in its updates, many jailbroken phones do not update. This can result in running an out-of-date phone.


Evad3r …

Shortly before Christmas 2013 some Jailbreak fans got an early gift of a Jailbreak for iOS 7.
See what McMurmor wrote about this “Christmas present“:

This allowed users of their new iPhone 5S/C, iPad mini Retina Display and iPad Air users unlock their device for tweaks outside Apple’s community.

However, after the crack was released, major controversy with Evad3rs grew with the Chinese store called Taig which also included mass amounts of pirated content, with no reason as to why Taig was included and not an official Cydia.

After a horrific response from the public, the Evad3r team worked frantically to remove Taig. They claim Taig installed themselves with their cracked version, and didn’t have permission nor source code. (How upon release, is still remaining as the big question.)

Yet, how would Taig be able to get their app store version in the Evad3r jailbreak so easy, still baffles users and has created a lot of disappointment towards to jailbreak community. The team touched on the mistake in multiple open letters, but the damage had already been done.

Apple has taken a silent approach aimed at the consumer who bothered to crack their device. Apple has internal software that can see not only how many times your device has been restored, what software version and even if your iOS device was jailbroken.

Once you jailbreak your device, you can kiss your warranty/Apple Care goodbye.

Jailbreaking is a direct violation of Apple’s intended use of the product, so they will treat it with the exact same respect as the person who has jailbroken the device has shown.

This means Apple will refuse all help that would be given to a non-jailbroken iOS user, but Apple’s forums will also refuse help on the matter.

What can be done with a jailbroken iPhone?

The main reason people jailbreak their phones is to run pirated (copied) software and install it without paying for the privilege. We’re not here to moralize: whether you pay for software is up to you. Although given the amount of free software on the app store, and the sheer hassle it is to jailbreak an iPhone, we do rather wonder why people bother.


The other – perhaps more viable – area is to run apps and services that are not allowed by Apple. Jailbreaking installed a rival to the Apple Store called Cydia. This features apps in areas that Apple bans, such as pornography. But there are also apps that allow you to perform blocked tasks such as tethering; apps that have been removed from the store such as Sparrow. You can also change the default apps replacing Maps with Google Maps and the default keyboard with a version called Octopus. It’s perfect for tinkerers.

Cydia …

Wikipedia explains …

Cydia is a software application for iOS that enables a user to find and install software packages on jailbroken iOS Apple devices such as the iPhone. It also refers to digital distribution platform for software on iOS accessed through Cydia software. Some of the software packages available through Cydia are free, and some require purchasing.
Cydia is developed by Jay Freeman (also called “Saurik”) and his company, SaurikIT. The name “Cydia” is an allusion to the Codling Moth, with a scientific name of Cydia pomonella, which is the proverbial “worm in the apple.”

Cydia provides a graphical user interface to jailbroken users using Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) repositories to install software unavailable on the App Store. Cydia is based on APT, ported to iOS as part of Freeman’s Telesphoreo project.
Software packages are downloaded directly to an iOS device, to the same location as Apple’s pre-installed applications, the /Applications directory. Jailbroken devices can also still buy and download apps normally from the official App Store.
Cydia can be installed during the process of jailbreaking an iOS device. Some Jailbreaking tools (each of them supporting a specific set of devices and iOS versions) install Cydia automatically, while others provide a choice to the user.

Summary …

Jailbreaking an iOS device might be interesting for tech freaks but it’s definitely not useful and a customization of a device without limits is not what Apple intends with it’s strategy of seamless usage, focusing on essentials, and security. It’s a kind of error in motivation to jailbreak an Apple devices. It seems to be clear that it’s primarily not the meaningful usage but the demand of getting more control over a technical product which let people jailbreak their device. In my humble opinion they should better move over to an other platform like Android.

Enough reasons to not jailbreak an iOS device and instead focus on useful things which can be done with the original?

Jailbreakers cannot claim to be Apple fans. It’s a blatant ignorance of all the hard work of Apple’s software technicians which is expressed in this statement:

True simplicity is so much more than just the absence of clutter or the removal of decoration. It’s about offering up the right things, in the right place, right when you need them. It’s about bringing order to complexity.
(Sir Jonathan Ive)

The internet era supports criminal activities and the main reason is that people mostly remain anonymous when violating clearly defined rules. Look at my blog posts and see what can be done with an original device to improve communication, knowledge, creativity, and personality. JB doesn’t pay. All you need is already implemented in Apple’s operating system and the many excellent apps supporting your daily tasks or your creativity. Changing a theme, a wallpaper, or downloading apps from more or less dubious companies might be funny but in whole it’s pointless.

Some tech nerds may forward many arguments to extract advantages from jailbreaking but they never will convince me. It ‘s simply a question of priority in regard to a meaningful usage of a mobile device.

Related links …

Apple’s Focusing

Apple’s Ecosystem

Security made by Apple

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