Jailbreaking is a pseudonym for breaking out of the Apple App store ecosystem, and the building blocks of the jailbreaking process are jail break apps. Among other things, jailbreaking is seen to enhance user experience by eliminating annoying App Store restrictions, which, for many people is reason enough to jailbreak.
However, the jailbreaking process comes with risks, not the least of which is that is has recently become illegal. In addition, jailbreaking voids your Apple warranty and could even destabilize the performance of your phone, as jailbreak apps can push phone operation beyond recommended tolerances.
Nevertheless, if you decide to go ahead with jailbreaking, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with a couple of new concepts: Cydia, the unofficial App Store, for searching and installing apps, and something called tweaks. Initially it’s easy to become overwhelmed by Cydia’s terminology. You may find yourself in the perplexing situation of being able to downloaded apps, but not necessarily understand most of what you’re looking at. Navigating the features of Cydia is a bit difficult; the key to understanding Cydia is understanding repositories.
Repositories, also referred to as sources, are essentially different servers that have jailbreak apps located on them: separate stores within Cydia. Working with jailbreak apps requires one to consider the source from where the app is found. To add a new source tap Manage > Sources > Edit > Add and you’ll get a URL popup to add a new source. Once you do you can search for the app you’re looking for and Cydia will index the new source. The often confusing thing about Cydia is that since it houses every type of jailbreak item it’s hard to tell the difference between different types of software.
There are four main types of software: apps, tweaks, widgets and themes.
(1) Cydia jailbreak apps operate exactly as those from the iTunes App Store. The only difference is that they’re not approved by Apple. In Cydia, you’ll see apps that do a variety of interesting things like network tethering, reskinning of the interface and providing alternate means to send and receive text messages. For the most part these are self-explanatory and are divided up into categories under the Sections menu much like the App Store.
(2) Tweaks are enhancements to an app; tweaks are usually found in the “Add-On” folders under the Section menu. Tweaks usually don’t have a home screen icon. Instead, they’re usually configured under the Settings menu on your iPhone. For instance, the popular Sparrow+ is a tweak designed to enhance the official mail app (Sparrow) by adding push notifications and changing Sparrow to the default mail client.
(3) Cydia Widgets (i.e. in the Notification centre, on the home screen with Dashboard X, or on the lock screen) are essentially shortcut buttons and tools that make information available to you outside an app. Widgets are located in Cydia’s Add-Ons folders much like the tweaks.
(4) Themes: If you want to customize your iPhone, themes are how you do it. The two most popular apps for theming are Dreamboard and Winterboard. Themes are found under in the Themes folders in Cydia.
Deleting And Updating Apps
To delete Cydia apps and tweaks (and anything else) you have to pop back into Cydia. Tap Manage on the bottom bar and then scroll through to find the app you want to delete. Tap Modify and then Remove. If that seems too tedious you can download Cydelete from the BigBoss Repository and delete Cydia-installed apps just like official apps.
Updates in Cydia are handled in a similar way to the iPhone apps in the App Store. When you open up Cydia you’ll see a badge on the Changes menu with any app or tweak updates. Tap the Upgrade button and your apps will update to the newest versions.
Once you play around with Cydia for a while it gets easier to understand. Some of the more popular Cydia offerings include Dreamboard for theming & skinning, Activator for customization and multi-touch functionality, Nitrous, a tweak that speeds up web browsing, Flex, an app that lets you create your own minor tweaks for any of your apps, and NowNow, a Siri-like app that utilizes the Google Search app for controlling device functions.
***Please note that the presentation of jailbreaking information offered here is not in any way intended as an advocation of the process, but rather offered as reference material only.***