Top apps and tweaks for jailbroken, rooted devices
In early July, iOS developer Ryan Petrich posted a screenshot from his iPod touch running a jailbroken version of iOS 7. Petrich is the first user to have jailbroken the latest unreleased version of iOS, but he's unlikely to be the last. Jailbreaking, or gaining access to all parts of an iPhone, has become an increasingly popular activity since it first started in 2007. While (NASDAQ:AAPL) Apple has no way of officially tracking how many devices are jailbroken, in 2009 the New York Times reported that 7 percent of all iPhones, or 2.3 million devices, were jailbroken.
This February, the Evad3rs Jailbreak Team, a hacking group, released the latest version of their evasi0n jailbreak tool for iOS 6.1. Jay Freeman, who runs Cydia, the main app store for jailbroken devices, reported that 7 million users had downloaded that jailbreak in the four days since its release and accessed the Cydia store. That figure includes 5.15 million iPhones, as well as 1.35 million iPads and 400,000 iPod touches. Freeman believes this rate of adoption is higher than that of any previous jailbreak.
This phenomenon is not limited to the iOS community, however. "Rooting," or gaining root access to a device running Android, has also spawned a thriving community of users looking to push the boundaries of what users can do with their devices. Rooted and jailbroken devices offer the super user access to their internal workings. Various hacking groups like the Evad3rs Jailbreak Team release tools to help users jailbreak (or root) their devices.
While some apps for rooted and jailbroken devices simply change the background or offer minor tweaks, a variety of apps allow users to access new parts of their phone to do everything from extending battery life to replacing default apps.
There is also a thriving piracy community associated with jailbreaking. In January, piracy community Hackulous was shut down. This included the Installous app, available only on jailbroken devices, which let users download free versions of premium iOS apps. Both rooting and jailbreaking are legal; however, downloading pirated versions of apps is not. Jailbreaking a device can void your manufacturer warranty, though.
Fierce has traditionally profiled the top apps of the month available through Apple's App Store and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play for non-jailbroken or rooted devices. This time, we're looking at the advantages of apps available only on jailbroken or rooted devices. What apps (and their developers) have found success in the jailbreaking and rooting communities?
Currently, Apple restricts users from switching their default mapping service away from Apple Maps. MapsOpener is a jailbreak tweak that allows users to override Apple Maps from loading automatically when the user wants directions. It will also allow the user to set Google Maps as the default mapping service when opening a map through the browser.
This app is especially interesting given that Google Maps used to be the default mapping services for the iPhone until 2012, when Apple dumped it for its own in-house mapping service. Jailbreaking is the only way to override Apple Maps as the default service.
SSH Tunnel is a security and privacy utility for the Android platform which is based on secure shell (SSH). This app allows users to set up a communications channel that bypasses communications restrictions and hides transactions via encryption. It has become a popular tool to thwart national and corporate restrictions and censorships (e.g., China's Great Firewall) and to enhance privacy. Rooting is required for users to access advanced features of the SSH Tunnel app.
Titanium Backup lets you save, restore or free app data and files. Users can also schedule backups in the future and save data to an SD card, the cloud or Google Drive. In case of accidental deletion, users can restore individual apps or data. The pro version allows you to back up data without closing your other apps. The app also allows you to uninstall unnecessary "bloatware" that comes preinstalled with your device. Devices that are not rooted will be unable to access all parts of the device necessary to complete a full backup.
SBSettings allows you to have easy access to your device's settings, such as Wi-Fi and screen brightness, on the home screen, which Apple will normally not let you do. Users can easily toggle between a cellular connection and Wi-Fi in this manner. In addition, SBSettings allows you to hide icons that Apple will not let you remove, such as the preloaded weather app.
DroidWall lets users set up a wall to prohibit certain apps from accessing the Internet. Users can also set an app to only access the Internet via Wi-Fi. This can help prevent users from excessively draining their device's battery and can also help them manage their data use if they don't have an unlimited data plan. Users without a rooted device will be unable to use this app.
BiteSMS is an alternative to Apple's standard messaging app. The app offers a variety of other features not available through the pre-loaded messaging app, including quick reply, scheduled messages, auto-forward, signatures and a password lock function. Because of these added features and the ability to reply to messages without leaving another app, the app requires a jailbroken device. BiteSMS has been downloaded over 5 million times to date.