In June, Apple introduced an API into their iOS 4.0 software as part of their mobile device management (MDM) initiative. The new addition would allow third-party MDM applications like Airwatch or Afaria to check for unauthorized modifications to the system files. Apple’s jailbreak detection API granted MDM applications direct access to the iOS information, which, needless to say, did not make jailbreakers very happy.
As of iOS 4.2, this API bundle that can help detect jailbreaking has been removed, which has perplexed developers. After speaking with a few developers I have met at various trade shows, none of them had received any information from Apple as to why the API has been removed.
There has been a lot of publicity to jailbreaking and the consequences one faces if “caught” over the last year or so. Though jailbreaking Apple devices voids the warranty, the U.S. government recently legalized the process as opposed to the concept that it had been illegal. I’m not sure how you would enforce this law. and frankly it seemed pretty silly to me. It almost makes me chuckle that the government is spending time and tax dollars on the issue of jailbreaking legalization, as opposed to the economy and job creation, but we all have priorities.
There are basically three reasons to jailbreak your iPhone: Customize your phone beyond the natural abilities built in by Apple, pirate software or to unlock your phone enabling you to use it on another network. The two latter issues seem to be the major concern of Apple, developers and carriers. Pirated software is obviously a concern as it results in lost revenue for both Apple and developers. Unlocking phones let’s users operate their phone on carriers other than AT&T in the United States such as T-Mobile. As we all know Apple has an exclusivity agreement with AT&T that seems to be close to expiration.
The battle between Apple and hackers seems to be never ending. As soon as Apple plugs a security hole eliminating the ability to jailbreak, hackers seem to find another avenue a few weeks later. I personally don’t jailbreak my iPhone, but know may people who do and love the versatility jailbreaking provides. In any case the API to detect jailbreaking has been removed in iOS 4.2 and we will keep you updated if it shows up in subsequent software releases.