jailbreak your iphone like a boss
With the recent release of the pwnage tool and redsnow providing an untethered jailbreak for iOS 4.3.1 I thought it might be time to write down some of my favourite apps for a jailbroken phone. Having imported a first gen iPhone from the USA, jailbreaking and unlocking it was essential – otherwise I’d spent $800 dollars importing a brick – I could pick one of those up from my back yard for nothing. So I’ve been jailbreaking and unlocking since the inception of the jailbreak scene. Thankfully I now own an iPhone 4 on a supported network, so unlocking is a thing of the past. But I couldn’t go back to an un-jailbroken iPhone. It would be like … being in jail!
Anyway, if you don’t know what a jailbreak is, or an unlock, or how to do it, check out the plethora of tutorials on iClarified.
Now on with the show. These are the apps I think are essential to get the most out of your iPhone:
ThemeIt.app is a reasonably recent addition to the Jailbreak scene. For a very long time, Cydia has been the main “app store” for Jailbreak apps. For a brief time, there was “Rock”, but this merged with Cydia last year, leaving a monopoly. ThemeIt.app, put together by the awesome designer, fif7y is now the place to find the best themes for the iPhone. Great UI, and great package manager.
While the iPhone’s default UI is pretty, when compared to some of the art and design work of the themes available on themeit.app, it’s looking a bit dated. It hasn’t been updated since the first gen iPhone and is showing its age. So ditch it, and find something a bit more your speed. There’s plenty out there. See this post for my favourite themes. If that’s not to your taste, then explore. There are some pretty wacky layouts out there, and some pretty cool widgets to put on your lockscreen. Also, don’t be afraid to mix and match.
Battery life on smart phones can be a real issue. The iPhone is, relatively speaking, not too bad, but it’s not that great either. One of the biggest drain on battery life is 3g. While you can turn 3g on and off in the settings, it’s not particularly convenient, which means you never do it, and so your battery life suffers the consequences. Auto3g takes care of when 3g is on, and when it’s off. Personally, I have 3g turn off when the phone goes to sleep and when I’m on wifi. This has had a significant beneficial effect on my battery life.
Lockinfo is a nice application that puts key information on your lock screen. It means you can see mail, SMS, missed calls, calendar appointments, weather info and a lot more without having to unlock your phone and open an application. Very convenient if you just need to quickly see essential information. You can also manipulate some of the information – mark mail as read, or delete it, or reply to an SMS. You can also see the lockinfo screen on your springboard by swiping down from the statusbar.
SBSettings is an application that gives you access to essential settings without having to find them buried many levels deep in the settings app. Just swipe your finger across the status bar and “settings at your fingertips”. You can toggle on/off things like bluetooth, 3g and wifi. You can turn off all background processes – rather than doing it using the stupid task switcher apple provides. You can also turn off, reboot or lock the phone using the “power manager”. There’s also some pretty cool functionality buried in the “more” section, which power users of the iPhone will appreciate.
BiteSMS is an alternative to the built in messaging app. It adds a whole lot of functionality that should really be there already. Like rendering emoticons. What Steve Jobs has against the humble emoticon, I have no idea. Anyway, biteSMS shows contact pictures in the message list, so it’s easy to find a conversation in the list. You can forward a message or create a template from it just by holding your finger on it. But the killer feature for me is that the popup that appears when a message arrives is actually useful. You can reply right from the popup and then go back to what you were doing without having to change apps. The popup even let’s you scroll back to see previous messages in the conversation. You can also forward the message from the popup as well as other functions. If you want to send a new message, just hit one of the volume keys, tap the speaker popup and you can send – no need to open up an app, or change from the one your using. Once you have this functionality, it is very hard to go back to using apple’s basic messaging app.
For the uninitiated, SSH is a secure network protocol for accessing the shell of another computer. What this means for the iPhone is that you can access the unix shell which underlies iOS. For someone not familiar with unix-like operating systems this will be somewhat daunting. However, it does have uses although only probably for users at the “power” end of the spectrum. SSH allows you to access your phone’s file system via SFTP. You can then use SFTP aware file managers (cyberduck, winscp, pretty much any Linux filemanager) to manipulate files on your phone. This can be useful if you want to customize themes, or use the storage on your device as a portable drive.
This is a simple file manager for the iPhone which packs some serious power behind it’s simple interface. Good for manipulating the file system on the phone itself.
This little tweak shows profile pictures in your contacts list. Just makes finding contacts in a big list that much easier.
This is app folders done how they should have been in the first place. This allows you to put more than 12 apps in a folder. The folder still shows a maximum of 12 apps, but you scroll down to see more. Just as you would expect. Intuitive and simple.
This is a task switcher that is far more intuitive than the one that comes built in. Just hold down the home button and all your backgrounded apps appear either as cards, or in an expose type grid. You click on the app to give it focus, or on the ‘x’ to kill it altogether. Much easier than holding down an icon and waiting for it to jiggle before you can kill it.
This is a very cool tweak – ever decided to reorganise your apps and got frustrated with moving one app at a time across many screens? Well this little tweak will ease your pain. With this app, you can choose icons to move (as many as you like), move to the screen you want them on, press the home button and they all move at once. A major timesaver.
Ever got a calendar popup, looked at it, and thought – yes, must do that, popup disappears, and you immediately forget it. This tweak adds a “snooze” option, which means the popup comes back 5 minutes later. Bloody useful.
This app allows you to print to a huge range of printers straight from your iPhone. Again breaking the shackles of the in built printing functionality that comes via air-print, or whatever it’s called.
Winterboard is the basic Theming platform for iPhone at the moment. There is a pretender to the throne – dreamboard. But this is still in heavy development, and there are very few themes for it. So winterboard it is.
Backboard is essential, if like me, you like to swap between themes relatively frequently. This app backs up all of the configuration of each theme, including icon layout, winterboard settings and many more bits and pieces that help make up a theme. A great time saver.
Barrel basically animates the transition between springboard screens. It makes flicking between screens fun.
Bytafont is a little app released by iphoneruler which changes the fonts on your iPhone – either globally, or selectively. iphoneruler has released many font packages on Cydia to be used on bytafont, so there’s plenty of scope for enhancing themes with cool fonts.
Gridlock allows you to place icons wherever you want on the springboard. This means you can organise them in patterns, or in ways that utilise space to group certain icons together so they’re easier to find. Works well, in tandem with iconoclasm.
The default springboard comes with a 4×4 layout of icons. Iconoclasm can basically create pre-set positions for icons anywhere on the sprinboard. Theme makers have been using iconoclasm to break this 4×4 restriction to give their themes interesting layouts both to enhance design and usability. This is what I use to get the nice 3×3 layout in the centre of the screen in the screenshot of the Prestige theme above.
I use this to allow me to show 5 icons on the dock at the bottom of the screen. It does have a lot more functionality allowing an infinite number of icons on the dock, which can be scrolled left and right. Why you might use this, I don’t know, but it’s there if you want it.
If you like showing lots of different widgets on your springboard screens, perpagehtml is for you. A couple of problems I’ve found with it is that it’s quite complicated to set up, and the more widgets you have running, the more memory you use and the worse your battery life is. Use with caution (IMHO).
If you’ve got lots of springboard pages, springjumps allows you to jump directly to a particular page by touching an icon. This can make navigating a multipage setup a lot easier.
Well, that’s the list. The only thing left to say really is that having installed all of the stuff above, you’d better get the pkgbackup app, so when you move to the next iteration of iOS, all your apps can be restored automagically. Happy jailbreaking.
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