InfoWorld is so, so wrong about iOS jailbreaking

iphone jailbreak

Today, InfoWorld published an article by Galen Gruman about iOS jailbreaking. In it, Gruman makes the argument that iOS jailbreakers -- who, by Gruman's estimation, "deserve" viruses and malware -- are moving to Android. His theory is that since Android offers lots of customization and is already a platform on which malware thrives, iOS users who want more freedom would rather just switch teams... and get malware and a highly customizable OS from the start.

There is so much wrong with this article from beginning to end that it would take me 2,000 words to correct everything, so I'll just point out the most troubling bits. For starters, this:

"First, there are no legitimate jailbreaks for iOS 7.1, which is what most iOS devices now run."

This isn't just a misinformed statement -- it's a complete lie. In June, a team of Chinese hackers released a jailbreak tool for iOS 7.1, which many thought would never be done. Called Pangu, the tool has been updated consistently and now supports even the most recent iOS 7.1.2 patch. It takes roughly five minutes from the time you plug your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch into your computer for the hack to free your device and install Cydia, the jailbreaker's app store.

I know all of this because I have an iPod touch that I have jailbroken using Pangu, and it performed flawlessly. Early warnings about the tool -- which were legitimate worries, given that the jailbreak community hadn't seen anything from this team of hackers prior to Pangu -- were put to rest by highly reputable members of the jailbreak community, such as iH8sn0w and MuscleNerd.

In the world of iOS jailbreaking, the endorsement of hackers such as these are as good as gold. Right now, Pangu is as good as it gets, and it's performed flawlessly for me as well. Suggesting there are no current jailbreaks available is the very definition of out-of-touch.

Then there's this:

"Jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad is a dangerous activity, with lots of malware masquerading as legitimate jailbreak tools."

I'll tackle this as two separate statements. Yes, there are lots of sites out there trying to trick you into downloading something shady, but no, jailbreaking your iOS device isn't inherently dangerous.

Do you find it dangerous to check your email, where wealthy African princes are looking to make a deal? How about when you look up a prescription drug online, and the search results are filled with overseas "pharmacies" selling expensive drugs for pennies? No? Then you'll be just fine when it comes to jailbreaking.

iOS jailbreak scams are just like any other, and all it takes is an absolute minimum of research to spot the fakes and learn where to find completely safe software tools. If you find yourself on iOS-FREE-JAILBREAK-XXX-BEST-DOWNLOAD(dot)com, you've probably wandered into a not-so-reputable part of the web, and you should leave as soon as possible.

However, if you head to a place like Redmond Pie, or the official Pangu website, you can almost certainly put your mind at ease. Claiming that even venturing into the world of jailbreaking is going to end in tears is fear-mongering, and nothing more.

Oh, and as far as the theory that iOS jailbreaking is dying because users who enjoy it are simply moving to Android, I'll go ahead and say "no" to that as well.

iOS is offering more freedom than ever before. With every new iteration, Apple gives users a little bit more freedom, and gradually lessening the desire for users to jailbreak. iOS 8 is taking it another step further, by allowing customized keyboards, battery usage breakdowns, and QuickReply for messaging. iOS users aren't jumping ship -- Apple is just eliminating their desire to jailbreak in the first place.

So to Gruman, the only advice I have is to maybe spend a little bit of time in the world of iOS jailbreaking. Learn the names and faces, and discover why people decide to free their devices in the first place. It's not such a scary place after all.

[Photo credit: David Bleasdale (locks)]