If you're an iPhone owner and you hear all this great stuff about "jailbreaking" your phone but have no idea how to actually do it, there's a new app that makes it quite easy, and for the first time it can be done without connecting to an external computer.
Up until now, to jailbreak an iPhone required users to download software on their computer, connect the iPhone to the computer and follow what could be confusing steps to get everything running correctly on the mobile device.
However, a developer who goes by the handle "comex" has just released JailbreakMe 2.0, an app for the iPhone that can be downloaded and executed directly from the phone's built-in Safari Web browser.
Jailbreaking an iPhone makes it possible for users to install and run third-party applications that are not approved through Apple's draconian App Store. This black market of unofficial apps has proven to become more popular among the iPhone community, and has even become profitable for some developers.
The new JailbreakMe app is so popular that the website hosting the download file cannot sustain the traffic it is receiving. "Please don't e-mail me if the site doesn't load, because I know that," wrote the developer.
The concept of jailbreaking has been around since before Apple's entry to the mobile market, but it was the iPhone that really brought the concept to the masses. It even spurred a battle with the US Copyright Office as to whether or not it was legal for a user to jailbreak a phone for personal use. The verdict: it is absolutely legal.
Apple is not happy with people downloading unofficial apps for the iPhone, especially when said apps cost money and it gets none of the proceeds. Apple is very clear that if you jailbreak your iPhone, your warranty is gone. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of users have cracked their device to get access to the underground app market, which is comprised of numerous apps that went through Apple's official channels only to have the company reject the app.
There is a definite risk, as some iPhone 4 users are reporting that jailbreaking the device causes the FaceTime video chat app to become disabled, and various usability issues pop up on all iPhone and iPad models. Enter at your own risk.