What Does Jailbreaking a Phone Mean?

Jailbreaking a phone opens it up for custom modifications

To jailbreak a phone is to modify it so that you can enjoy unrestricted access to the entire file system. This access allows for changes that aren't supported by the phone in its default state. When the phone is free from certain bounds set by the manufacturer or wireless carrier, the device owner gains more control over the device, including how it performs.

Devices that are commonly jailbroken are the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but many people are now jailbreaking devices like the Roku stick, Fire TV, and Chromecast. Jailbreaking an Android device is normally called rooting.

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Why People Jailbreak Phones

Probably the most common reason to jailbreak a phone is to install custom apps that you couldn't otherwise use on the phone. Apple blocks some apps from being released on the App Store, but jailbroken iPhones support sideloading or adding an app outside the manufacturer's app store.

One more reason jailbreaking is widespread is because it lets you truly customize your phone. By default, the iPhone's app icons, taskbar, clock, lock screen, widgets, and settings aren't configured in a way that lets you change the colors, text, and theme, but jailbroken devices support custom skins and other tools.

Also, jailbroken devices can remove apps that you can't usually delete. For example, you can't remove the Mail, Notes, or Weather apps on some versions of the iPhone, but hacking tools let you remove those unwanted programs.

Potential Problems with Jailbreaking

While jailbreaking makes your device more open and gives you greater control, it increases vulnerability to malicious apps and introduces potential stability problems. Apple has long been opposed to jailbreaking (or any unauthorized modification of iOS) and notes that unauthorized modification of the system violates the end-user license agreement.

Apple enforces strict guidelines for how apps are developed, and that's one reason why most apps work flawlessly on non-hacked phones. Hacked devices don't have such a rigorous standard, resulting in jailbroken devices losing battery faster and experiencing random iPhone reboots.

In July of 2010, however, the Library of Congress Copyright Office ruled that jailbreaking your phone is legal, stating that jailbreaking is "innocuous at worst and beneficial at best."

Jailbreaking Apps and Tools

Find jailbreaking tools on websites like PanGu and redsn0w. Kodi, too, is a popular app for jailbreaking.

Be cautious of the apps you use to jailbreak your phone. Some of them could include malware, and while they might hack your phone successfully, they could install keyloggers or other tools you don't want on your phone.

Jailbreaking, Rooting, and Unlocking

Jailbreaking and rooting have similar purposes for gaining access to your entire file system but are used in the context of iOS or Android, respectively while unlocking refers to removing restrictions that prohibit the use of a phone on a different wireless carrier's network.

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