#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.

Jailbreak superstar Comex is working on a Cydia alternative

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Photo: Cult of Mac
Photo: Cult of Mac

Since the very earliest days of jailbreaking, Cydia has been the go-to source for jailbreak-specific tweaks and apps. What makes tweaks work is the Cydia Substrate, low-level software written by Cydia founder Saurik that lets third-party programmers hook into the iOS operating system in ways not endorsed by Apple. But Cydia Substrate is closed-source, which makes it harder for alternative jailbreak stores to compete with Cydia.

That could soon change, though. Jailbreak superstar Comex — the developer of JailbreakMe, and a former programmer at Apple — is working on an alternative to Cydia Substrate.

iOS 8 jailbreak finally ‘stable enough’ to use

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jailbreak
An iOS 8 jailbreak tweak that replicates the Apple Watch UI on the iPhone.. Photo: Jeff Benjamin
Photo: Jeff Benjamin

iOS 8 has been technically jailbroken since October 22, but it’s taken weeks to get it polished enough for Cydia, the jailbreak alternative to the App Store.

Now that things are “stable enough,” Cydia creator Jay Freeman has flipped the switch to start allowing the sale of iOS 8 tweaks and themes.

iOS 8.1 blocks ‘date trick’ loophole that allows emulators on iPhone and iPad

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Playing Pokemon on iPhone 6 Plus using GBA4iOS. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac
Playing Pokemon on iPhone 6 Plus using GBA4iOS. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

A neat trick that allows old console emulators and other unapproved apps to be installed on iOS devices without jailbreaking is set to be wiped out with iOS 8.1. Apple has finally taken action against the “date trick” many users have long been taking advantage of, and it’s going to make playing your favorite SNES and Game Boy games much harder.

China using jailbroken iPhones to spy on Hong Kong protesters

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Protesters in Hong Kong hold their phones high. Photo: AFP
Protesters in Hong Kong hold their phones high. Photo: AFP

As thousands of protesters flood the streets of Hong Kong demanding a democratic election, the Chinese government is reportedly using sophisticated malware to spy on not only Android devices, but iOS devices as well.

But don’t worry about China peeking at your Snapchats. There has yet to be a widespread instance of iOS malware in the wild, and this particularly “advanced” trojan still requires a tremendous amount of complicit behavior on the victim’s part.

How to jailbreak iOS 7.1

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Jailbreaking has been around almost as long as iOS itself, giving users more control over their iPhones and letting them customize almost everything.

In today’s video, we take a look at how to jailbreak iOS 7.1 using the Pangu jailbreaking tool. If you’re not running that particular version of Apple’s mobile operating system, don’t worry: The process is very similar for every release. Take a look at the video to learn how to do it for yourself – it only takes a few minutes!

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Cydia’s creator to jailbreakers: Don’t count on me doing this forever

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Cydia jailbreak backup

Ever since the first iPhone was jailbroken, hacker and developer Jay Freeman, aka Saurik, has maintained the Cydia Store as a way for jailbreakers to download, buy and sell their tweaks.

Run consistently since February 2008, there have been more than a few challengers over the years — Cydia alternatives developed by third parties who promise to “better monetize” the jailbreak community — but Cydia continues to be the de facto repository for jailbreak tweaks.

But Freeman says we can’t take Cydia for granted. In fact, he’s thought about picking up his toys and going home.