It’s as regular as the arrival of late fall rains in the Pacific Northwest: the release of a new iOS version is always followed by a period of furious effort to create a new, untethered jailbreak. As iOS 6 was released last month, jailbreakers are now in that holding pattern. There was some hope amongst their ranks that the Jailbreak Conference held last month in San Francisco would bring a new version and a live demonstration. But there was no such luck.
For those of you not familiar with jailbreaking, here’s a little breakdown. In iOS, jailbreaking uses software or hardware exploits to find a way around the limitations imposed by Apple on what types of modifications and actions you can do. There are several types of jailbreaks. The most desirable is an untethered jailbreak, which allows you to use all the usual iOS features, plus it allows you to use Cydia. Cydia is like an alternate App Store with all sorts of applications, interface customizations, and system extensions that have not been approved by Apple.
There are definite security implications to jailbreaking your machine, as Apple does quite a bit to make sure app developers stay within very narrow boundaries of what is considered safe, acceptable behavior. But if you can break into Apple’s stuff, so can anyone else. The two iOS malware (one worm, and one Trojan) that have been discovered both only work on already-jailbroken devices. By tightening security against possible exploits, Apple protects against both exploits that would be used to jailbreak and those that would be used to install malware.
So those folks who are fans of the tweaks and apps available on Cydia are either waiting to update to iOS 6, or updating and waiting impatiently for the next jailbreak. The timespan between the release of iOS 5 and its untethered jailbreak was over 2 months, and iOS 6 was just released a few weeks ago. By all accounts, the task is more difficult on iOS 6 due to some of the changes implemented in the new operating system to prevent common exploit tactics. The current estimate is that it will be months before the next jailbreak is available.
Have you ever jailbroken your device? If so, do you plan to jailbreak iOS 6 when it becomes available? Are you holding off on updating to the latest iOS, or have you updated with the hope that it will be jailbroken soon?