Do you know what happens when you mix one jailbreaker extraordinaire with an early release of the next-gen iOS software update? If you’re thinking something hackery, you’d be right.

MuscleNerd, of iPhone Dev-Team, jailbroke iOS 5 within the first day it was released to developers. He reports that the Cydia application and other jb apps are working fine so far. (Then again, Apple has a few months to release this major software update, so who knows how they might plug up the exploits by then.)

He used Limera1n for a tethered jailbreak, which means the device needs to be hooked up to a computer every time it’s rebooted.

This got me thinking about the topic of jailbreaking, and some questions popped up in light of the WWDC announcements — like, is it me or does it seem like jailbreaking is a less sexy proposition now, given everything Apple has stuffed into iOS?

Are there any more reasons to jailbreak?

Back in the day, before iOS was called iOS, it made a lot of sense. There were gaping holes in the operating system. There were no video capture, Wi-Fi tethering options, MMS, copy/paste or customizable wallpapers, not to mention multitasking, folders and other little nuggets of joy. At this point, iOS users have officially gotten all that. And now we know that the next generation of iOS will deliver on many of the other features that once drove people to jailbreak.

So R.I.P., MobileNotifier and LockInfo. Goodbye, Wi-Fi Sync and SnapTap… because, uh…. well, duh. If I need to explain this, then I have to ask — Where have you been? Clearly not seeing the WWDC/iOS 5 coverage revealing Apple’s new bag of tricks, complete with drop-down notifications list, revamped lock screen, hardware shutter-button for the camera and wireless iCloud/iTunes sync/back-up.

As far as I can tell, most of the major stuff has been addressed now (which makes me wonder if Cupertino’s doing what I’ve been suggesting for years — hire jailbreak devs instead of driving them underground. Yeah, I know — not likely). [EDIT: TB reader Mohsin Shabbir points out that Apple did hire Peter Hajas, who created Mobile Notifier. Touché. It did indeed. Still don’t think this will become typical operating procedure for Apple, but it’s definitely worth noting. Thanks, MS!)

So what’s left then? Well, there’s always MyWi… except for one pesky thing: AT&T has threatened to sniff out illicit hotspot abusers and auto-upgrade them into its tethering plan, which would eradicate any grandfathered unlimited plans they might have. Yikes. It’s likely only a matter of time before Verizon makes their own announcements.

The list of reasons to jailbreak seems to be shrinking.

Worth voiding an Apple warranty for?

I tried to come up with a list of desired features that people might still find relevant, and some might even be considered major, but I’m not sure that all of them are worth voiding those iPhone warranties to get. What do you think?

  • Themes (like changing the look of the battery indicator, icons with Winterboard, etc)
  • Wi-Fi, BlueTooth, GPS, task management and other setting toggles, accessed more directly/easily (SBSettings)
  • 3G FaceTime (My3G, FaceIt 3G)
  • Super Nintendo Emulator (snes4iPhone)
  • Unlimited apps in folders or dock (InfiniFolders, InfiniDock)
  • Keyboard with numbers/symbols (5 row Keyboard)
  • Block SMS messages (iBlacklist)* [NOTE: For blocking text spam, see sidebar below]
  • Multitasking, even for apps that don’t support it
  • SMS reply within the alert or from the lockscreen without launching the app, plus quick reply, scheduled texts and more (BiteSMS)
  • Cracked apps (Install0us)
  • Apps that Apple rejects (like GrooveShark and many others)
  • Current features for legacy iPhones that can’t run iOS 4/5 (Backgrounder, Circuitous, Categories, Go Native! and more)
  • A new default browser (BrowserChanger)
  • “Geek” tools, like SSH tunneling (OpenSSH, iSSH), VNC for iPhone screen sharing/remote control (Veency), and file manager (iFile)
  • Unlocking for GSM handset use on T-Mobile… and someday, possibly to use CDMA version on Sprint

There are other tweaks and features beyond this list, but among these, I think the three major ones for people are access to cracked apps (despite the ethical quandary), current features for old devices and, of course, unlocking. (That last one could be moot in the future though, at least for the GSM iPhone, what with AT&T trying to buy T-Mobile and all).

If you have or ever considered jailbreaking your device, are those days numbered now with the impending iOS 5 release? Or are you still interested in it for any of these or other reasons?

Tell us whether you think there’s still reason to jailbreak in the comments below.


*SIDEBAR: Blocking Text Spam (Without Jailbreaking)

One thing that really rankles me is SMS spam. Not everyone has an unlimited plan, so this annoying tactic can actually cost people money. But, it turns out, there are other ways to block it without jailbreaking.

Most spammers send their SMS garbage to your phone via e-mail, and all the carriers provide some type of blocking tools — either for all messages from the internet or from specific senders:

AT&T: Register at Blue’s online messaging settings page here. (It’s separate from the main AT&T online account.) Here, you can block all SMS and multimedia messages sent via e-mails or the web to your texting address (typically [email protected] or [email protected]). You can also set a white list or black list of senders, as well as a custom e-mail alias that goes straight to your phone’s SMS.

Verizon Wireless: There are Text Blocking preferences here that enable users to keep out all texts coming from e-mails or the web, or from specific e-mail addresses or websites. You can also set up an e-mail alias for cellular texts.

Sprint: You can’t set blanket protocols like the above at Sprint, but the carrier does allow users to block messages from specific numbers, e-mail addresses and domains via preferences via your online account. Sprint users can also block specific text senders right from the handset: Just text 9999 with the appropriate command and phone number (“block 0001234567”) as the message.

T-Mobile: There’s no option for stopping all SMS messages from the Internet, but you can block all texts from e-mails, restrict allowed messages to only those from your phone’s e-mail address or alias, or set up filters to stop texts with certain phrases. Head to here to set it up (under Communication Tools).

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