Confessions of a “Jailbreaker”
I have a confession to make and I really need to get this out. I am a jailbreaker. I used to live in secrecy, running applications on my Apple® iPhone® that allowed me to brighten the screen in one touch (the horror!), fit 5 icons across the screen (criminal!), or even have multitasking with a custom application launcher (wait, that’s actually pretty cool . . . thief!!!!). Fortunately, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s addition of “jailbreaking” to the list of exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, I can now regain my place in society.
Jailbreaking an iPhone is, sadly, not nearly as nefarious as it sounds. It involves using computer software to change the iPhone’s operating system firmware so that third-party applications can be run. Third-party application repositories, such as Cydia or Rock, store these third-party apps and make them available to users (some are free, some are not). The applications themselves are not approved by Apple, but really show the potential for the iPhone and iPad. Does it change the user experience? Yes, it can. Certain applications kill the battery a lot quicker, and some customizations can get extremely confusing for basic level users.
To be fair, my confession is somewhat tainted, as I (and many of my closest friends) never considered jailbreaking to be illegal in the first place. But now, I can proclaim it to the heavens that I JAILBREAK MY PHONE. Under the new exceptions, modifications to smartphone firmware cannot be prosecuted under the DMCA. While no one has ever been prosecuted for jailbreaking, this opens the door for talented programmers to invest both time and money into, basically, showing Apple what it needs in iOS 5.0 and 6.0 and . . . well, you get the point.
While this ruling is a victory for the me’s of the world (the end-user), this does not stop Apple from setting up more and more copyright protection systems to protect their firmware. Additionally, it does not make the distribution of illegal hacking software legal. But rest assured, every time Apple ups the ante with new protections, the community of talented hackers goes at it with full force, expanding the abilities and value of these Apple products.
So there is my confession. I can now move on with my life and join the ranks of the mainstream smartphone world without sulking in the digital shadows. Farewell, I have to go play “A Link to the Past” on my iPhone SNES emulator using a Bluetooth wiimote as a controller.