Pros and Cons of jailbreaking iPod Touch?

I have a 2nd generation model which, to be honest, has been satisfactory the way Apple wants it to be. Jailbreaking doesn’t seem terribly hard. If I did it, what would I gain? What would I lose?

A Touch? I don’t know whether there’s any point-- isn’t the jailbreaking to get off the mandated (At&T?) phone provider?

Apparently it will allow Touch owners to use 3rd party software not offered through the App store and to use themes, emulators, and such.

Jailbreaking has a few advantages:

[ul]
[li]You can get applications that aren’t offered in the iTunes App Store.[/li][li]You can run more than one application at once.[/li][li]You can use a provider other than AT&T[/li][/ul]

However, in return, you make your device more vulnerable to viruses, you can break your device to a condition that cannot be fixed, and you will have problems with updates.

Now, some of the apps that people want, but aren’t available on AT&T allow you to use services like Skype over AT&T’s data lines than just over WiFi. That means you can call other places and not use your minutes. Of course, with an iPod Touch, that doesn’t offer much advantage.

Some people want to run an application like Pandora while they use another application. However, that really cuts down on your battery life and can slow down your iPod Touch’s performance.

And, of course, since you don’t have an iPhone, but an iPod Touch, getting away from AT&T is not your concern.

I have an iPod Touch and didn’t jail break it. The disadvantages (easier to get infections, possibility of bricking, and harder updating) didn’t seem to outweigh the advantages. I have about 4000 songs on my Touch and I get a lot of various Podcasts. To listen to Pandora while playing a game doesn’t really give me that much advantage.

Besides, that, there really isn’t an advantage to running multiple apps. Most apps are written to continue where they left off, so there really isn’t a big penalty for switching. The screen is also too small to run multiple applications anyway. And, the problems of shorter battery life isn’t worth it.

I find plenty of apps in iTunes, so I really haven’t found a non-iTunes third party app that is a must have.

I might feel different with an iPhone. Getting a VOIP app, so I don’t use AT&T minutes is a big plus. But, not on an iPod Touch.

Does the iPod touch require a monthly contract? I was under the impression there is not required service- that it will connect to any wireless connection.
Edited to add:
“And, of course, since you don’t have an iPhone, but an iPod Touch, getting away from AT&T is not your concern.”

This seems to answer the question…

Jailbreaking, in my personal opinion, is the best thing you could do to improve your experience of your iPod Touch. The downside is that doing so will void your warranty. However, it is a completely reversible action, and you can simply restore to factory state whenever you like.

If you wish to use apps that improve your experience, jailbreak is a no-brainer. If you use it primarily for music and don’t care much about apps, it’s not going to make much of a difference. Another downside is that you will experience a crash once in a rare while, but a simple restart will fix it.

The risk of bricking your iPod Touch by performing a jailbreak is, in my experience, nil. There are currently two options: The iPhone Dev Team hack and GeoHot’s hack. I’d recommend the former, although the latter is the easier method.

If you need specific instructions, feel free to ask.

And whatever you do, DO NOT pay for jailbreak software. Any site that charges for jailbreak/unlock software is a scam.

These are the only legitimate sites:

iPhone Dev Team:

GeoHot:
http://iphonejtag.blogspot.com/

Is there a killer app (or multiple apps) that makes it worthwhile to jailbreak an iPod Touch? Because there are over 100,000 apps available through official channels, so I can’t imagine that there isn’t one that already does what you want. Or is the reason to do so that you can run more than one app at a time?

No monthly contract is required.

But I could draw up one for you if you’d like. How does paying me $60/month for 2 years sound? Okay, $45/month for 18 months?

Look $30/month for a year and that’s my final offer. Take it or leave it!

Running multiple apps at once (multi-threading) can be enabled using an app called Backgrounder. However, it’s not the primary reason I would recommend a jailbreak as it can easily make your device unstable if you use it incorrectly. I used to use it to background my IM apps, but now with push enabled on most IM apps, this is a non-issue. The most useful thing to background for me is Google Maps while I’m driving. This way, when I browse out of Google Maps, I can re-launch it instantly (instead of waiting the 3-10 seconds it would usually take if not backgrounded). Obviously, this won’t be of much use on the Touch, unless you’re driving only in Mountain View (free citywide Google WiFi).

Killer apps would depend on your specific needs. By far the best app I’ve used on my iPhone is BiteSMS: http://www.bitesms.com/main/more_features which is only available through the Cydia app store.

Again, that would not be of much use on a Touch. However, there are many many apps that you can use on a Touch, including:

SBSettings: Direct access to change some useful settings, plus some other useful extensions.

Some features:

Rotation Inhibitor - I read a lot on my device while lying down, however when my head is tilted sideways the phone still thinks I’m sitting upright and so rotates the screen making it annoying for me to read while lying down. Rotation Inhibitor allows me to disable the rotation so I can read and watch videos while lying down.

Brightness: Direct access to change the brightness setting. No need to leave the current screen.

WiFi Toggle: Direct access to turn off WiFi while in flight, or to save battery.

Flashlight: The AppStore flashlight apps are all inferior to the hacked flashlight app, because of the limitations Apple imposes on developers using the iPhone SDK. With the hacked app, you get full brightness when you launch the app, and the brightness goes back to regular levels when you exit.

Lockdown: Lock specific apps with a passcode to prevent others from looking at your sensitive apps. Useful when you give your device to others to play around with.

LockCalendar: Display calendar entries directly on your lock screen. Screenshots here:

iTypeFastr: Another one of my favorites. It’s a whole different approach to the keyboard, and with an initial learning curve, just way faster and more accurate.

Categories: Too many apps taking up too many pages? Create folders for Game apps, Productivity apps, or anything else.

Other iPhone only hacked apps:

iLocalis: Brilliant app. Track down a lost iPhone. Lock or delete data on your stolen iPhone. If someone steals your phone and uses another SIM, have the phone silently send you a message with the new phone number. Also, silently make a call to your home phone (or any other number you specify) so you can record live audio.

ClearCam: “Enhanced mode will give you a 4MP image rather than the standard 2 MP image you get now on the iPhone. The magic is done by having the camera take 6 pictures in rapid succession. The software then aligns and enhances the photo and saves it to your camera roll.”

See the difference:

Cycorder: Video recording for iPhone.

And these are just some that I’ve used. There are many more that you might like.

Thank you. I have an iPhone 3Gs, and probably will not jailbreak it. But I appreciate your explanation of why doing so might appeal to some.

How , specifically?
I know Apple makes this claim (just like some printers claim you must use their brand of ink), but what evidence is there for it?

Technically, if you install OpenSSH (not a requirement for jailbreak) and don’t change the root password, you could be vulnerable. Also, jailbroken apps can hook into system APIs that are not exposed in the Apple SDK.

In practice, the risk is so small as to be non-existent at this time on the iPhone OS. If you know what OpenSSH is, and can successfully install it, you are obviously competent enough to change the default password. And the jailbroken apps are written by some of the most gifted programmers around, and the ecosystem is supported and self-regulated by a community of hackers and developers. Any rogue app will be immediately killed, and no such app has ever been reported in the wild.

Therefore, I disagree with the statement on the whole. And I believe the benefits far outweigh the risks, but that’s a choice left to the user.

To jailbreak or not is really a matter of what you want. There are some nice jailbreak apps and themes but I’ve always considered the real advantage to be freedom. The phone/touch runs a stripped down version of OSX which becomes open to you after a jailbreak and you can then use it however you want. I have 8 “apps” on my SpringBoard that are really scripts I’ve written to perform a variety of tasks, for example. To Apple, that makes me a potential terrorist. If they only knew that I don’t use iTunes, they’d want me locked up in Gitmo.

I don’t think any of this is accurate. Securitywise, installing ssh and not changing the default password is the only vulnerability I have heard of, and that has more to do with ignorance than anything else. ssh can easily be made extremely secure. I’ve also never heard of anyone breaking their device to the point it can’t be fixed. How exactly? There are no problems with updates except that you have to re-jailbreak afterwards.

There were two viruses that sought out Jailbroken iPhones in the few months. Both had to do with people Jailbreaking iPhones and not changing the root password.

The first one basically changed your home page. The new Home page said that your phone was taken over by a Dutch hacker, and you had to pay him 5 Euros to get it fixed. This hacker quickly said it was just a joke and gave steps on fixing the phones.

The second one was a true worm. Infected iPhones looked for other iPhones to infect. It changed your home screen to a picture or Rick Astely and a message that said “I’m never goin’ to give you up!”. This one was benign (unless you aren’t a Rick Astely fan), but the method was quite threatening. Basically, the worm was able to grab root access to your phone, then used your phone to search for others.

In both cases, changing your iPhone’s root password and taking off SSH access would have been sufficient. But, this is pointing out a major issue with jailbroken iPhones: Apple takes no responsibility for security.

If you are technically up to date and familiar with operating systems handling (especially Unix security issues), you are aware of this stuff, you know the security issues involved and can probably handle them. However, the software that does the jailbreaking is designed to make it easy and simple which means people doing the jailbreaking don’t necessarily have the skills or knowledge about security issues. To them, they were told, “You download here, click here, and then you can make free phone calls all over the world!”. These people simply don’t understand they signed up for more than just free phone calls and the ability to listen to Pandora while surfing the web.

Jailbroken phones can be vulnerable and the owner must have the technical skills to understand these issues and know what they should be doing. They need to read various forums that might point out other security issues, and take action.

Jailbreaking was more interesting when the iPhone first came out. The iPhone was missing features like cut and paste. Apple’s notification system was not put together yet, so the only way notifications could work was through a background process. And, there was no app store which meant the only way to get any other app on your iPhone was by jailbreaking it.

I see less of a need to jailbreak an iPhone now that the iPhone has many of the features such as MMS, cut and paste, notification processing, and third party apps that made people want to jailbreak their iPhone in the first place.

My recommendation is to see what is out there before your jailbreak your iPhone and weight it carefully against possible issues including void warranty, inability to apply Apple updates, and security issues. You might find something that you feel is worth the effort risks of jailbreaking your iPhone. But, I wouldn’t make jailbreaking a blank recommendation.

To clarify, Jailbreaking the phone does not install OpenSSH. To be vulnerable to this attack, users would have had to manually install OpenSSH and then not change the root password. There is no known attack on phones that were merely jailbroken.

There is no inability to apply Apple updates. Jailbreaking is a 100% reversible condition with zero risk of bricking the iPhone and iPod Touch. You can revert back to factory, back to previous version, or update to a new version at any time. It might be more overhead in that you have to follow a few more steps, but there is no inability to do so.

The root and ssh vulnerability is just the beginning. There will be others. Some third party app will have a vulnerability that we haven’t heard yet. Hackers always find the easiest security holes first, then when they’re closed, look for other ones.

The question I have is the number of people who have jailbroken their iPhones and understand root passwords, how to change them, and how to secure SSH. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t jailbreak your iPhone. I’m just saying that you need to be aware of the issues. It’s about cost and benefits.

I certainly won’t tell people that jailbreaking a no-brainer. You jailbreak your iPhone, and you take certain risks in your own hands. If you understand that. Fine. I think most people who jailbroke their iPhones early on understood this. However, a lot of people find the one click jailbreak methods very easy to do, but don’t understand the consequences.

You can brick your phone. I know several people who had done this, and it took us quite a while to fix one of them. You are opening up an OS in a way never intended by the manufacturer. There have been issues with security updates, and people with jailbroken iPhones unable to take advantage of these security updates (like the SMS security update) because they had to wait for the two developer teams to come up with jailbreak updates.

Early on in the iPhone life, there were many reasons to jailbreak. Apple had no notification system, so you needed to run a background process to do notifications. There were no third party apps, so if you wanted something besides the few apps that came on an iPhone, you had to jailbreak. There was no cut and paste, and many jailbroken apps used an third party library* call to allow for cut and paste. However, Apple has fixed these issues one and a time.

I know people with jailbroken phones. The iPhone has a complete Unix OS on it, and you can use your iPhone to connect to other computers, move files around, etc. There are apps (like porn apps) that Apple will never allow in the App Store. There’s GoogleVoice too which may or may not be in the App Store any time soon. Then, there are features such as using Skype on AT&T’s data network and not on WiFi.

But the point is know what you’re getting yourself into. If you don’t understand root access and ssh, you shouldn’t be jailbreaking your iPhone.

Jailbreaking cannot brick your phone. It’s like saying “I tried installing a new OS and now my computer does not power on anymore”. If your computer does not power on, it has nothing to do with the OS. It’s a hardware issue. The fact that you were able to “took us quite a while to fix one of them” by definition means that the phone was not ever bricked. Of course, recovering from a bad state requires you to put the phone in DFU mode and then restore it, and some users may not know how to do this, but there are enough of tutorials out there to get this done. A bricked phone cannot be fixed, not even by Apple.

The only risk of bricking an iPhone while hacking it is, if, while in the middle of performing an unlock (this is different from a jailbreak), you pull out the chord or lose power on the phone.

All the info about changing the password is right on the front page of Cydia (the most popular application for installing and managing jailbreak apps). That doesn’t mean people read it, but it couldn’t be more in their face.

This is misleading. iPhone updates aren’t the same as computer updates. iPhone updates are entire operating systems that overwrite the system you currently have on the phone. The only reason people didn’t apply the update is because there wasn’t a jailbreak available for the new updated system, so they chose to wait until there was one. They could have updated at any time if they felt the SMS vulnerability (which affected all phones, jailbroken or not) was a real threat.

One thing that, surprisingly, hasn’t came up yet, is speed and performance. This can range from “con” to “no difference” to “pro.”

The older models of Touch/iPhone aren’t super fast and don’t have a lot of RAM. This is rarely a problem for non-jailbroken devices because they don’t give you the freedom to do much with it anyway, but jailbreaking gives you the freedom to really squeeze the guts out of the device and a lot of people complain that it causes their system to lag.

Jailbreaking alone isn’t the cause. The causes are having things running in the background and too much theming. (Do you really need the calculator, calendar and notepad apps to look cool?)

On the other hand, jailbreaking gives you freedom. If you enjoy tinkering, you can replace the factory theme files with your own to avoid lag from themes, you can disable things that you don’t need but which Apple has running by default and you can streamline the filesystem.

So, on the “pro” side… while some people install extravagant themes and complain that “jailbreaking made my device sluggish,” I would put mine, which does have a cool theme, against a factory iPhone any day and expect mine to be faster because I do like to tinker and have done as much as possible to make it faster.

But, if you really want click a button and instantly have a crazy cool theme for Springboard plus every app plus a theme for the Lockscreen that displays email, rss feeds, weather, calendar, music controls, and allows you to have SMS conversations all without unlocking the device… you could be disappointed.