Releasing an iPhone from the constraints imposed by Apple’s App Store is a process known as jailbreaking.
Jailbroken iPhones are growing in popularity, as the number of non-approved apps increases with every passing year.
Many high-quality apps are rejected for official release and never appear in the App Store, despite having genuine merit.
However, you can do far more with a jailbroken iPhone than just install unofficial programs.
Jailbreaking grants the same sort of customisation options Mac users enjoy, such as being able to change default software if you don’t like a pre-installed package.
These are five things only a jailbroken iPhone can do…
1. Install Activator
Exploiting the haptic feedback provided by iPhone screens, this ingenious piece of software enables you to fully customise your device.
You can assign specific actions to particular gestures or button presses, over-riding existing instructions or creating entirely new functions.
For instance, swiping three fingers across the screen could instruct the iPhone to launch a favourite app.
Firm presses on the screen may also be used to perform specific tasks.
2. Customise the appearance of your handset
Historically, rooted Android devices have led the way in this area, but jailbroken iPhones are catching up thanks to programs like Anemone.
As well as offering over 50 non-standard themes, Anemone enables you to customise icons and make the phone feel truly unique.
You can replace standard app icons with new designs, add 3D effects when scrolling between pages, cram up to 100 icons onto a single screen and ensure active app icons gently glow.
Being able to add a fully functional shortcut bar at the bottom of your screen (like TouchBar) is also highly recommended.
This wealth of customisation far exceeds the ability to change wallpapers, which is as far as iOS normally goes.
3. Install Kodi
Kodi can be installed without jailbreaking – but it’s significantly more complicated, and still requires the Cydia Impactor app to be sourced from a third-party download site.
Once your device is jailbroken, Kodi is fairly easy to install.
This popular online content streaming service exists in something of a legislative grey area. The basic application is legal, but much of its content isn’t.
Since no lawsuits have ever been brought against Kodi users, many people feel confident using it through a virtual private network – for security, as well as to cloak their activities.
Kodi can then be augmented with add-ons providing access to movies, sport, TV series and much more.
As we discussed in our recent guide [insert link to How to data tether with iPhone 6/7/8/X], the iPhone is great for tethering – enabling offline devices to connect to the internet.
However, this consumes large amounts of data, and quickly becomes expensive.
If you tether a jailbroken iPhone, however, it’s free via apps like MyWi.
5. Access unofficial apps
There are no statistics on how many apps exist outside the official Apple App Store.
Apps might be rejected for reasons including unwieldy interfaces, inappropriate font sizes, poor product summaries or similarities with existing software.
Clearly, none of these pose any danger to your device – and many could perform valuable services.
There are apps that install graphic equalisers and unlock additional camera features, or condense the call interface into a compact bar that supports simultaneous web browsing.
Ironically, it’s possible to elevate security by locking apps using Face ID, or setting up a Guest Mode so occasional users can’t access specific apps and settings.
What you need to do
Jailbreaking an iPhone might seem unnerving, but it’s a relatively straightforward process.
LiberiOS is widely acclaimed as the best method of cracking an iPhone, and it’s compatible with models up to the X – though jailbreaking a £1,000 phone may not be advisable.
After all, jailbreaking instantly invalidates any warranties or guarantees contained in the End User Licence Agreement.
That means if your device becomes corrupted, it’s up to you to resolve any issues.
Beyond the secure walled garden of Apple’s App Store, software may be glitchy, infected with malware, distasteful or simply not very good.
Some users report regular crashes from jailbroken apps, while others find their devices slowing down due to the malicious activity of rogue software.
Although an iPhone could be restored to factory settings (effectively undoing the jailbreak), your warranty may still be invalid.
Before attempting a jailbreak, we’d strongly recommend backing up any sensitive or valuable data, to be on the safe side.