#ProTip: The upside to jailbreaking your iPhone

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Jay
Jay "saurik" Freeman, maker of Cydia, says there are legit reasons to jailbreak your iPhone.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac is at WWDC and AltConf, fishing for ProTips. The world’s biggest gathering of Apple developers is a rich hunting ground filled with alpha geeks, experts par excellence. What’s a ProTip? A ProTip is a nugget of knowledge, a little bit of expertise from someone in the know — a pro.

SAN FRANCISCO — Has Apple ever contacted you? This is one of two questions gray-hat hacker Jay “saurik” Freeman gets asked all the time. It happens so often, he has thought about putting it on a T-shirt.

“I have been contacted by Apple twice — once about a job and the other time a 50-page response to request sent to the copyright office,” he told Cult of Mac after his AltConf presentation on copyright in the digital era.

You see, Freeman is not just a gray-hat hacker, but also a businessman, an adjunct professor, a really fast talker and an expert on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He also built Cydia, where iOS users with jailbroken devices can download apps.

“I provide an alternative to the App Store,” said Freeman.

Which leads us to the second-most asked question he gets: Should I jailbreak my phone?

“In most cases the answer would inevitably be yes,” said Freeman.

Here is his list of reasons why jailbreaking iPhones makes sense:

  1. Jailbreaking your phone allows you customize the way the device’s interface. If you want to customize your iPhone’s icons or make them function in a different way, this is the one way to get that done.
  2. If you have trouble with your eyesight or the mobility of your hands, jailbreaking your iPhone allows you to implement a UI that will help with your particular problems.
  3. If there is a feature you have been dying for Apple to implement and you can’t wait another minute, chances are someone in the hacker community has already made it available for you to try on your jailbroken iPhone.
  4. If you are a developer working on your mobile app and you want to debug it before launch, you are more than likely going to need to spy on your work on a jailbroken phone.
  5. If you have security concerns and don’t want to share any of your information, your best bet is to jailbreak your iPhone and implement security checks yourself.

In the end, Freeman says he would never be able to work for Apple. He doesn’t think he could do good things for the world from inside a giant corporation. But he loves his Apple products.