While I don’t consider myself a “power-user” by any stretch of imagination, I do consider myself a bit more savvy than the average iOS user. I’ve recently decided to wander into the land of the jailbreak, with a little help from our friends over at evasi0n. Some like having full control over their phone, adding themes, widgets, and custom lock sliders. I, on the other hand, love the overall look of iOS and only installed some minor tweaks which I’m going to share with you …
Evasi0n is the latest tool for jailbreaking iPhones, iPods, and iPads. It works for any device running iOS 6.0 through 6.1, and it works magnificently. Here’s how it works: You download it. You plug in your phone. You press go, and tap the jailbreak button when it tells you to. That’s it, literally. (I do recommend reading the rest of the directions on the website, though.)
Once the jailbreak is complete, you can open up Cydia, let it do its thing, and start downloading tweaks and stuff.
Activator gives you a slew of new options to activate (title line, eh eh?) different functions of your phone. Among these options include swipes from different parts of the screen, pinches, spreads, volume button presses, status bar taps, and the list goes on. You can use these gestures to launch apps, close apps, change the volume, open a new text or email, and again, the list goes on. A lot of other tweaks require Activator in order to function. It’s kind of a big deal.
I, personally, use it for one main reason: the App Switcher (shows above). We all know iPhones aren’t perfect, and I’ve had more trouble with home buttons than I care to admit, so this is my solution. Instead of jamming the home button twice to open the switcher, I’d much rather simply swipe up from the bottom. I’m really not sure why this isn’t the standard feature to begin with, but I guess some cars still have manual transmissions, too.
Aside from that, I use a swipe across the status bar to launch the Tweet composer. It’s really nice when I think of something incredibly witty to Tweet and I don’t want to forget it between the home screen and the Tweetbot composer. (It happens more often than you think. Probably why I don’t seem that funny.) It’s a simple little tweak I could probably live without, but hey, I like it.
Oh, I also use a 3-finger-pinch to launch Cydia, which I’ve hidden using Springtomize.
It’s described as the only jailbreak tool you’ll need, and it’s pretty close. You can use it to customize most aspects of the UI. You can change the speed of animations, the look of the dock and lock-screen, the size of the icons and labels, and what appears on the status bar.
For me, I changed the size of the icons, and how many appear on a line. I don’t like swiping through pages or folders if I don’t have to, so having more icons on the homescreen is nice. I also hid some of the apps that I don’t use or ever want to see ever again (like Newsstand), and the carrier from the status bar to make more room for notification icons.
If you don’t feel like shelling out just under $3 for a custom look and feel, you can always install Winterboard and test out a couple of the hundreds of free themes.
This little gem brings neat little icons to your status bar to remind you if you have missed calls, email, or messages waiting for you. While the Notification Center has taken care of most of the issues with missing emails and texts, these icons are a perfect safety valve.
You can customize which icons show up for which notifications. Some make sense, like the envelope for emails, the chat bubble for messages, and the phone for missed calls. There is also an exclamation point (!) that you can set to anything you’d like, and a little bell with a slash through it for when your phone is on silent/vibrate.
Since the iPhone has no “back” button, most apps require a navigation bar to get around. This takes up screen space (which is already limited because it’s SO SMALL) that could be used for something else.
I know, it’s not a huge difference, but I like the skinny (ah, Diet, get it?) look of the dieted bars, and I don’t mind the extra 20 pixels of screen space either.
Those are the major tweaks I’ve installed, but there’s some other smaller ones that I think are worth mentioning briefly as well.
- PasswordPilot allows you to enter your AppleID password once, and not have to worry about it again. When you go to install a new app, and the annoying little window pops up, BAM, your password is already there.
- MapsOpener will open addresses in the Google Maps app instead of the default Apple Maps app. Simple.
- ShowCase is a keyboard tweak. When typing, your keyboard will show capital letters when you’re typing capitals and lowercase letters when you’re typing lowercase.
Jailbreaking is a great way to take some control of your phone back from Apple’s closed system. Just a few simple additions and you’ll have the added function and customized look you’ve always dreamed of.
If you have any other tweaks or apps you think are worth mentioning, feel free to add them in the comments.
*Jailbreaking is apparently legal for phones, but not for tablets. I don’t know the details, I’m not a lawyer, so I’d double check before doing anything if you’re worried. I also take no responsibility for any problems you have with your phone due to jailbreaking. I’ve never had any, and there’s a safe mode just in case, but I don’t want a lawsuit or anything.