Using the iOS mobile operating system on an iPhone is simplicity itself.
More intuitive than the rival Android platform, iOS provides a safe and secure environment where you can download officially-sanctioned apps and make changes to your device permitted by Apple.
However, that’s not enough for some people.
Beyond the closed shop of the iTunes store, a wealth of apps and functionality await discovery.
These are the apps rejected by Apple, and consequently only available by stepping outside the boundaries of your operating system.
Why would an app be excluded from the iTunes store?
There are many reasons why Apple may reject a submitted app. These are some of the most common ones:
- It’s deemed to be similar to an existing app. Flappy Bird spawned numerous imitators, some with genuine points of difference – but Apple may not have seen it that way
- It requires a high degree of control over the device. Apple is especially sensitive to apps that attempt to change your phone’s functions, for instance
- The app is glitchy. Some of the greatest games ever made were buggy (the 8-bit fantasy game Chaos, for instance), but Apple might reject them for being insufficiently tested
- Apple deem the interface to be unwieldy. This is highly subjective, and high-quality apps have been excluded because they had too many screens to navigate, or ran slowly
- Guidelines have been broken. Apple has a variety of rules about app design – font size, transitions, even the use of space. Breach these, and an app may be barred
- The app description isn’t accurate. After all months of development and testing, an app can be rejected because the supplied App Store description falls foul of Apple’s guidelines
If you accept Apple knows best (and it often does), you’ll have to live without any apps it refuses to publish.
However, there is another way.
You can configure your device to install and run apps from outwith the iTunes store.
This is a process known as jailbreaking your iPhone – and it’s broadly similar to rooting an Android device.
(The two terms are often used interchangeably, though it’s common parlance to root Android phones and jailbreak iOS devices.)
How do I jailbreak an iPhone?
There are three main ways to circumvent the software restrictions applied to the iOS operating system.
The first involves physically hardwiring your device to a computer, and running an application to jailbreak it.
This is known as a tethered jailbreak, but it isn’t advisable because the phone is out of action until you disconnect it – at which point the jailbreak ends and you have to repeat the process.
There’s also a semi-tethered jailbreak, which requires you to repeat the jailbreak process whenever the device is restarted – or after a certain period of time has passed.
Finally, there’s an untethered jailbreak, making permanent changes to the device’s operating system so it remains freed from App Store restrictions.
Although an untethered jailbreak is the obvious choice for simplicity, the most popular method currently available involves the semi-tethered LiberiOS platform.
Below, we explain how to install this – as well as highlighting a few potential risks after you jailbreak an iPhone…
The process in action
Jailbreaking varies according to which version of iOS you’re using.
On the basis that the vast majority of iPhone users will be using the latest generation of iOS – 11.0 to 11.3 – this guide details the jailbreaking process for iOS 11 users.
You’ll need two pieces of software – a graphical user interface called Cydia Impactor, and the jailbreaking device itself.
We’ve chosen LiberiOS, which is widely regarded as the market leader.
- On your computer, visit the Cydia Impactor website and download the file for a PC, Mac or Linux device.
- Next, go to the LiberiOS website. Don’t be daunted by the rather barren page – download Version 11.0.3 through the link below the yellow box.
- Once the .ipa file has downloaded, connect your iPhone to the computer.
- Launch Cydia on the computer, where it will detect your device, and move the .ipa file onto its user interface.
- Enter your Apple ID and password, and Cydia will transfer the .ipa file onto your device.
- Go to Settings > General > Profile & Device Management, where a profile should be displayed with the LiberiOS app.
- Tap on this profile, and confirm the Trust option.
- A LiberiOS Jailbreak app will appear on your device’s Home screen, which you can activate by tapping the “Do it” button.
- If a message appears saying “It worked”, the jailbreak was successful, and your device can now be used outwith the official iTunes store.
What are the risks when I jailbreak an iPhone?
The vast majority of apps and websites claiming they can unlock an iOS device are bogus.
If you’re unsure whether a jailbreak service is legitimate, you might want to check its website address at the iPhone Wiki page.
This highlights how many reputable-looking websites are either scams, loaded with malware or selling free software at a huge markup.
Visiting one of these sites could harm your device – and Apple won’t be sympathetic if you corrupt or damage your phone while trying to jailbreak it.
The same is true if you successfully jailbreak your device but then download corrupted or dangerous software – your warranty will already have been invalidated.