With the release of iOS 6 together with the recent JailbreakCon gathering, I figured it was time for me to once again take stock of where things stand on the matter of jailbreaking my iOS devices.
Over the years, I have been a strong supporter of jailbreaking. This has been both a matter of principle (I have never been entirely happy with Apple’s “closed” App Store policies) and practicality (there were numerous things I wished to do with my iOS devices that I could only do via jailbreaking).
In the past year or so, however, my enthusiasm for jailbreaking has waned.
The primary reason is because of the decline of “practicality” as a reason to jailbreak. Or, as the above linked Cult of Mac article calls it: “getting Sherlocked,” defined as “implementing a new idea only to have it copied by Apple later.”
In other words, almost all the reasons I’ve had to jailbreak my iOS devices in the past are now gone. They’ve been eliminated by the new features added to iOS over the years. I had this reaction after the release of iOS 5. My reaction has only gotten stronger with the release of iOS 6 — due to the addition of options such as Guided Access (which ended my need for the IncarcerApp jailbreak app).
The other reason I am down on jailbreaking (again, as I have outlined previously) is that the process of jailbreaking has become too much of a hassle for me to want to bother with it. In particular, after an iOS software or hardware update, it can be months before a reliable jailbreak arrives. Until then, I am forced to either postpone the iOS update or give up on the jailbreak. Too often, when a dependable jailbreak finally gets released, Apple is already preparing a new iOS update that will render the jailbreak useless. As I an unwilling to postpone major iOS updates, I typically wind up spending more of a year without a jailbreak than with one.
There also continues to be the risk that, as has occasionally happened to me, jailbreaking results in problems for some other apps on my iOS devices. A jailbreak attempt itself may go wrong, requiring a restore of the device to get things working again.
This is not a criticism of the people who work on these jailbreaks. I recognize that they are doing the best they can in combatting the obstacles that Apple puts in their way. It’s just that I no longer have the inclination to fight along side of them.
The lone reason I even consider jailbreaking anymore is to have root access to the drive — via utilities such as iFile. This access allows me to perform an assortment of activities that no App Store app will ever be permitted to do — from simply being able to view and edit all files on my iOS devices to sharing files over Bluetooth.
There are a few other jailbreak apps I would find helpful, but not helpful enough to overcome my resistance to the hassles of jailbreaking. I am no longer willing to rely on apps, no matter how potentially useful they might be, that I know I will have to abandon for months (perhaps forever) after each new iOS release. It’s a one-two knockout punch.
Another quote from the same the Cult of Mac article states:
“There could come a day when Apple makes it so unfeasible to jailbreak that the community around JailbreakCon falls apart. But until that day, the future of jailbreaking is bright.”
I don’t share this “bright” assessment. I believe that “unfeasible” is just around the corner, if not already here. Even if an iOS 6 and iPhone 5 jailbreak eventually comes to pass, the iOS jailbreakers have never been more than a small percentage of total users. I am convinced that, with each new release of iOS, that number will shrink.
I still have my objections to Apple’s policies in this arena. The problem is that I no longer believe that jailbreaking will ever be the solution to these objections. Jailbreaking may continue to survive among a small community of users, such as those who attended and followed JailbreakCon. But its influence will be more and more marginalized going forward — until it reaches the point of irrelevance. I’m not looking forward to when this happens. But I believe it is what will happen. At some point, you have to recognize that the war has been lost and it’s time to move on. For me, that time is now.