When the first iOS devices were released, savvy hackers got to work on breaking down Apple’s walled garden so users could install their own apps. That process, jailbreaking, relied on finding vulnerabilities in iOS that could be exploited to side-load apps and UI customisation. But, over the last few years, Apple has shutdown the number of vulnerabilities that are exploitable in this way. Over the last week, the ModMyi and ZodTTD/MacCiti repositories closed down, leaving just one default repository for Cydia.
There’s little doubt that when the first iPhone operating system, it was called iPhone OS until version 4 when it was renamed iOS, it was a work in progress. You couldn’t even copy/paste content and it wasn’t until about a year after the release of the first iPhone that we got apps. Apple’s approach of locking down the OS gave developers plenty of motivation to create their own mods.
But, these two repositories shutting down is a sign that iOS has reached a level of maturity where the big benefits of jailbreaking are seriously diminished.
Cydia’s creator Jay Freeman said to Motherboad, “It used to be that you got killer features that almost were the reason you owned the phone. And now you get a small minor modification”.
I suspect the other nail in the jailbreaking coffin was been Android. If you want to tweak the user interface and play with non-sanctioned apps, Android gives you plenty of opportunity to do so without the hassle of jailbreaking.
It’s been a while since I bothered with a jailbreak. Are any Lifehacker readers still jailbreaking their devices? Is it worth the effort?