Posts tagged jailbreak
After moving from a tethered jailbreak to untethered on iOS 5.0.1 recently, I noticed a significant downgrade in battery life. Even though I have been jailbreaking iPhones since the 1G, I’ve never had a problem with battery life. After untethering my iPhone 4, my battery lasted about 4 hours with only moderate use.
Googling produced only one possible solution – complete restore as a new phone (don’t restore from backup) and then jailbreak. Guess what – my battery life is like I’ve got a … new phone. Now, battery usage overnight is about 4% and a full charge lasts at least a day and a half with moderate usage. I’ve never had battery life like that, that I can recall.
Whilst this is all just anecdotal, I’m a little shocked at the difference. I’ve always done upgrades of firmware, or a restore from backup. Seems that a clean install does wonders for performance. As a Linux user, I’ve always laughed at windows users who reinstalled every few months to restore performance. I always assumed that unix like operating systems didn’t suffer from performance degradation over time. Seems iOS may be different – at least in terms of battery performance.
Yesterday I wrote a quick post on the latest untethered jailbreak for ios 5.0.1. I mentioned that despite some fixes for the broken launchctl that had emanated from the latest jailbreak, iFile was still broken and crashing like a drunken night at the dodgems.
Well, thanks to saurik’s diligent work and his recent update to the mobile substrate package, iFile is back up and running. So we can all go back to doing whatever it is we do with iFile.
And to prove it’s working, the image above was extracted from the asoftly theme on my phone using iFile.
An untethered jailbreak was finally released for ios 5.0.1 on 28 December 2012. Despite the fact that ios 5.x has been jailbroken (albeit tethered) for a number of months now, an untethered jailbreak is a BIG deal. For the uninitiated, a tethered jailbreak means that you need to connect it to a computer to be able to reboot it. This can be an issue if the battery runs out an you’re not near a computer with redsn0w and a copy of ios5.x on it. So a lot of would be jailbreakers held off, waiting for an untethered jailbreak, and now that it is here, the stampede to get it was deafening.
If you haven’t previously jailbroken 5.0.1, then you can use the latest version of redsn0w to jailbreak. This is a pretty simple process. If you haven’t yet moved to 5.0.1, then you’ll have to do so first.
If you are on an untethered jailbreak, then you have two options. Use the latest redsn0w to untether – in effect, rejailbreak; or download an app called Corona Untether – install it from Cydia, reboot and you should be untethered.
This is where things get spicy. Apparently if you’ve done a ‘clean’ jailbreak – ie. used redsn0w to jailbreak an unjailbroken device, there are no issues. However, if you’ve used either of the above methods to untether a tethered device, then there are issues. Initially, both methods broke launchctl, which meant apps like openSSH and intelliscreenX didn’t work. However, the latest release of Corona fixes this – yes that’s right if you untethered using redsn0w, you will have this issue and should install the latest version of Corona to fix it.
However, there are still a few issues out there. iFile on my phone crashes almost immediately on launch. I have read that iBooks is broken as well. That being said, I don’t use iFile that often, never use iBooks, and all my other apps seem to be working, so I’m a happy untethered camper. Hopefully, the remaining bugs will be fixed as quickly as the initial bugs and we’ll all be able to enjoy a rock solid jailbreak. And if the bugs mentioned above are too much for you, you can always do a clean install of 5.0.1 and jailbreak from there.
As you will have seen from this blog, I have been a long time jailbreaker of iPhones. I imported one of the first iPhones into New Zealand, which was locked to the AT&T network in the US. Without an unlock, it was just a fancy iPod. In fact there were many times during those early days, when I nervously sat with an apparently lifeless phone wondering if I’d finally managed to brick it. However, thanks to the wonderful jailbreak team, I could always coax it back to life.
Now apple have realized that there’s a market for their products outside the US, and I have a phone which can run on a local carrier without needing an unlock. However, I have continued to jailbreak my iPhones for the simple reason that they are unusable in their out of the box state! This has been brought home to me recently, when I upgraded to iOS 5. For those who don’t follow the jailbreak scene closely, there was a tethered jailbreak for iOS 5 before it was even released in its final (bug ridden) form. However, no untethered jailbreak has been released yet – a tethered jailbreak means that you have to connect your phone to your computer if you reboot it, making running low on battery away from home a sweaty palms moment.
So, I upgraded to iOS 5 thinking I’d run my iPhone au natural, naked, in the buff, unjailbroken for a while to see what it’s like. In short it sucks! How do the great unwashed put up with this? The great ease of use UI is not. It is easy to use in comparison to what existed before the iPhone … maybe. However, the jailbreak community has moved the platform on to such a point that it makes the original UI seem clunky and amateurish. Has the time come for Apple to admit that the jailbreak community has some merit and allow jailbroken apps into the app store?
I’ll give you one example of a jailbreak app that I miss dearly on my naked iPhone – there are many more (biteSMS, winterboard, infinifolders …), but let’s just focus on one. SBSettings is an unassuming little app. However, this is why it is so amazing. It is power coupled with simplicity. It provides a very simple interface to commonly used phone settings. If you’ve ever used the iPhones settings app, you’ll know why this is important. The settings app is fine for things that you set and forget. In traditional software design, that’s how settings work. You install some software, tweak the settings to how you like it, and that’s it, job done. You may come back and change them occasionally, but this would be rare.
On a phone, there are settings that you use all the time. Bluetooth for example. If I’m in the car, and get a phone call, I simply can’t open the settings app to turn on Bluetooth, so I can pick it up on the hands free. Likewise, I don’t want to have to keep Bluetooth running all the time because it is a battery hog. SBSettings has a Bluetooth toggle that is easy to access and turn on. Better yet, couple this with the activator app, and you can toggle Bluetooth using the hardware buttons.
In a similar vain, I often need to turn the autolock function off. The settings app hides this setting several layers deep. In SBSettings, simply swipe across the top bar and switch it on/off. I can also switch wifi access points, which I commonly need to do. So, open SBSettings, hold down the wifi toggle and all available access points pop up, choose, job done.
These are only two examples, but there are many more – for example, airplane mode, brightness settings, killing all background apps, turning on a flashlight. So why won’t Apple let this app into the app store? Is it not invented here syndrome? Are they worried that it would expose their poor UI design? Or is it that the app needs root access?
Apple has clearly recognized the benefit of the inspiration of other developers -*cough* iMessage/bbmessage – notification centre/android/lockinfo. So maybe they’ll implement this themselves. However, I have my doubts. It is sad that the great unwashed will never experience the joys of being able to use their phone to its true potential. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it now – the jailbreak community shows the clear benefits of an open platform – true innovation, by the users for the users, for free! Is it time to realise that the iOS UI is the equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes – great if you’re a believer, but for those that have had a taste of the real thing, lacking a little substance.
… how long will it be until Apple takes this idea and implements it in their OS, and call it “innovation” again? If you have a jailbroken iPhone, then you may have seen an app called kbshortcuts appear in Cydia. This app turns your iPhone/iPad keyboard into something really, really useful. The app allows you to perform common text editing operations with a simple swipe of your finger.
- Cut, copy, paste;
- Find and replace;
- Text navigation and selection;
- Dictionary definitions;
- Translate text;
- Undo and redo;
- Text snippets;
- Much more …
To activate a feature, simply swipe your finger from the spacebar up to the relevant key. For example, to copy text, swipe up to “c”. To paste, swipe up to “v”. To undo, swipe up to “z”. Most functions are bound to the key’s you would expect from gui text editors, such as Word or Openoffice.org.
But the feature that is killer, is undo and redo. How many times have you deleted text because of clumsy fingers and cried about it like a baby. No more cry baby – just undo your mistake! This app turns the iOS keyboard into a real tool for text editing.
turns iPad useful
This turns the iPad into a useful tool for creating text. Previously, typing text on the iPad keyboard was a complete pain in the arse. With this tool your iPad becomes a better content creator, and no longer just a content consumption device.
so, what about apple?
So how does this relate to iOS? Well, iOS 5 has keyboard shortcuts too! So why all the excitement about this Cydia app when shortcuts are coming to iOS anyway? Well, Apple’s implementation of keyboard shortcuts is … lame. Basically, you can insert text snippets by typing in abbreviations for them – yep, that’s it.
kbshortcuts is another example of why a locked down platform hurts the consumer and hurts innovation. Long live the jailbreak community! kbshortcuts is the definitive jailbreak KILLER APP.
Having bought an iPad 2 rather cheaply on a recent visit to Singapore, I immediately jailbroke it to install all the useful tweaks that Apple left out of iOS. Also, being a bit of a fan of theming, I had a look to see if my favorite (and in my view the best) iPhone theme – revidx – was available for the iPad. Sadly, it is not. However, not one to be deterred, I thought I’d check out what else was available for the iPad.
The iPad theming scene seems to be far smaller than for the iPhone. This is a mixed blessing – there is less crap, but also fewer real gems. I’m also not a huge fan of the dark metallic themes that seems to be the predominant aesthetic of many iOS theme developers. The other problem with iPad theming at the moment is that a large number of themes are incomplete, both in terms of UI elements, as well as icons for Cydia apps. So after a number of failed attempts at finding the “perfect” theme, I was very pleased to recently stumble across the “asoftly” theme.
Asoftly is a simple and subtle theme, which appeals to me. It has a nice soft texture – looking a bit like recycled paper or fabric – with light grey being the predominant color. However, the use of light grey does not mean this theme is boring. The grey is punctuated with brightly colored buttons. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let some screenshots do the talking. If you’ve got an iPad and want a nice subtle theme, have a look at softly:
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.
There are literally thousands of themes available for a jailbroken iPhone. However, to be quite honest most of them are crap and a large proportion of the remainder are atrocious – just look on Cydia. Most of the themes are incomplete, and only really provide a wallpaper and change a few icons – often using icons that have been downloaded from the internet.
Obviously there are a lot of “complete” themes, appearing on the new ThemeIt.app store and in the new themes section in Cydia. But I’ve found these themes to be missing UI elements here and there, which just stand out like dogs balls, and ruin the whole aesthetic of the theme. Furthermore, most of these themes have a ‘metallic’ motif of some sort and are just too ‘busy’. The iPhone’s hardware design is elegant and the UI should reflect that.
That being said, there are two themes that I think have pushed iPhone theming to a whole new level:
This theme is only available on the ThemeIt app. In fact it is made by the developer of that app. As you can see from the screenshots, this theme has a simple, elegant and professional look, with hints of colour here and there to enhance the UI. Every part of the UI is themed from the keyboard to the landscape calculator, to common Cydia like BiteSMS. It also comes with a number of alternate lockscreen widgets that can display weather, time and calendar info. The theme is just stunning.
In the screenshots I’m using a 5×5 iconoclasm (look it up on Cydia) layout for the Springboard icons. Using Gridlock (another Cydia app that allows you to place icons anywhere you want in the grid), I’ve placed the icons in a nice little square in the middle. I’ve also set 5 dock icons using Infinidock – you guessed it, another Cydia app.
Revi-Krs is a theme released recently by an (apparently) well known iPhone theming dude known as “Krs” (surprisingly). Whilst this theme doesn’t have the same “elegance” as Prestige, it is fully complete and furthermore includes two sound themes. It also has more colour, but is not over the top or too busy.
Again, I’m using a non-standard layout from iconoclasm. I’ve also included a shot of the Springboard using the icons from the azui signature mod – available on Cydia. Revi-Krs is also available on the ThemeIt app.
The developers do charge for these themes, but in my view the small amount they charge is definitely worth it. So if you want to theme your iPhone like a boss, get these themes – don’t forget you’ll need to Jailbreak first.