The Future Of Jailbreaking: A Roundup Of What You Missed At JailbreakCon 2012 [Feature]


JailbreakCon speakers gather for candid pic after the event.
JailbreakCon speakers gather for candid pic after the event.

SAN FRANCISCO, JailbreakCon 2012 — JailbreakCon, the convention dedicated solely to jailbreaking and all that it entails, took place this past Saturday, September 29th. Hackers and developers from around the world gathered together at the South San Francisco Center to network and share ideas.

New projects were announced, and the future of jailbreaking iOS 6, the iPhone 5, and Apple TV was discussed. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to attend the event or watch the live stream—Cult of Mac has you covered. Here’s everything you missed at JailbreakCon in a nutshell:

Jailbreakers Unite

Almost all of the most notable jailbreak hackers and developers were gathered together under one roof for this event. This includes the brilliant masterminds who reverse engineer Apple’s code to create jailbreaks and the developers who make tweaks and apps for Cydia, the jailbreak alternative to the App Store.

“VIP” attendees got to eat lunch and learn coding with people like Jay ‘saurik’ Freeman, the creator of Cydia, an alternative to the App Store that paid jailbreak devs $8 million in sales last year alone. In between talks, jailbreak enthusiasts got to rub elbows with the developers responsible for many of the most popular tweaks in Cydia.

JailbreakCon consisted of 12 keynotes from renowned jailbreak developers and hacking idols. Topics of discussion ranged from iPhone security exploit research to U.S. wireless carrier business economics to theme design. Some talks were really geeky and developer focused, while others crossed more into the mainstream, like hacker pod2g’s announcement that there is no available iOS 6 jailbreak.

The amount of sheer talent at JailbreakCon attracted hundreds of attendees and thousands of online viewers. Several large companies, including Apple itself, also took notice.


It’s hard not to be impressed by hackers like pod2g, a self-taught security researcher who has been instrumental in releasing the last several iOS jailbreaks to the world. Cracking Apple’s software is considered to be about as impressive as it gets, and the hackers at JailbreakCon know iOS like the back of their hand. The most elite group consists of less than 10 guys who make up the Chronic Dev Team. It’s under the guise of Chronic Dev that hackers like pod2g, planetbeing, p0sixninja, pimskeks, and nitoTV release jailbreak tools for millions of users to download and use on their personal Apple devices.

From left to right: p0sixninja, pod2g, and planetbeing are all instrumental members of the Chronic Dev Team

At JailbreakCon, pod2g gave a talk on his past experiences as a hacker and the future of his current work on jailbreaking. He’s working as hard as he can with the rest of the Chronic Dev Team on iOS 6, but there won’t be a public jailbreak for awhile. The same goes for the iPhone 5—a totally new Apple device that will take some time to crack. As pod2g put it himself, sometimes creating jailbreaks requires a lot of luck.

Sherlocked Innovation

The jailbreak scene is definitely a hotbed of innovation. It’s no wonder Apple occasionally hires people from the jailbreak community. The freedom jailbreaking gives means that developers have the room to implement ideas before Apple.

In the case of Ryan Petrich, one of the JailbreakCon speakers, jailbreak development can mean getting sherlocked by Apple. (“Sherlocked” simply refers implementing a new idea only to have it copied by Apple later.)

Since he first started developing for Cydia several years ago, Petrich has been sherlocked by Apple no less than 5 times. He was the first to bring copy and paste to the iPhone in the form of a Cydia packaged called Clippy. Petrich also built a spelling suggestion system for iOS way before Apple every integrated its own. Often called “the hardest working man in jailbreaking,” Petrich has released more than 40 jailbreak tweaks and extensions, including many hallmark apps like Display Recorder, a tool that lets you natively record the iPhone’s screen activity.

Many jailbreak developers don’t get sherlocked by Apple, but they should be. Among other tweaks, Grant Paul wrote Zephr, a tweak that adds iPad-like gestures for multitasking and navigating on the iPhone. The 17-year-old hacker was also the first person to publicly show off Cydia running on the iPhone 5.


It may not be the App Store, but Cydia is not a storefront to be trifled with.

Without Cydia, there would be no reason to jailbreak your iPhone. Every jailbroken iOS device gets Cydia by default, because without it you would not be able to find and install tweaks.

Jay Freeman, also known as saurik, is the eccentric character behind Cydia. At JailbreakCon, Freeman revealed that a staggering $8 million was paid out to Cydia developers year. While it’s difficult to track exact numbers, Freeman also estimates that around 1.5 million users open Cydia each day.

Freeman wants to keep Cydia completely open. During his talk he kept reiterating that he didn’t have much control over the app because he does not want the whole of Cydia subjected to one man’s will. Cydia is very much a community effort, and the storefront continues to thrive in the face of iOS 6.

Future of Jailbreaking

A hot topic at JailbreakCon was definitely the future of jailbreaking in general. 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.

There’s not a lot going on publicly in the jailbreaking scene right now because hackers are dealing with all of the new software and hardware Apple has released in recent months. iOS 6 still needs to be cracked along with the third-gen Apple TV—both are far from easy tasks. The hackers at JailbreakCon seemed confident that Apple’s latest software would be cracked eventually, but who knows how long it will take.

Until then, JailbreakCon lives on. Craig Fox, the event’s coordinator, is planning to hold JailbreakCon 2013 in New York City. Stay tuned for more details!

Previous Coverage

Here’s all of our JailbreakCon coverage from the weekend:


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