Apple iPhone in and out: The next step

The next step

GSMArena team, 9 November 2007.

Getting in

Looks like the red pill went down well, now back to our game. It seems jailbreaking the original firmware version of the iPhone (1.0.0, later updated to 1.0.2) was not that much of a problem. Jailbreaking is the action that gives you access to the iPhone file system. As you will see, having your iPhone jailbroken swings the door wide open to a world of options, even if you don't intend to unlock and prefer to stick with what AT&T has to offer (O2 and T-Mobile too, starting today). Getting in or jailbreaking serves the double purpose of allowing you to install third-party applications and getting your iPhone unlocked should you choose to do so. Once the original firmware was jailbroken native third-party applications started sprouting like mushrooms in rain.

However, with the major 1.1.1 firmware update all that went to the dogs. And, like in a game of cat and mouse, crackers and coders started searching again for the Holy Grail of Jailbreaking the "Jesus phone" (sorry for the Biblical approach). Apple added fuel to the fire by announcing that jailbroken iPhones are no longer subject to their limited warranty service.

However, it was only a matter of time for a new jailbreak to surface and allow firmware 1.1.1 iPhone owners to take a bite at the third-party application scene. Virginizing software was also made available, so firmware 1.0.2 users who have been tinkering with their iPhones could restore them to their original state and get the 1.1.1 update or keep their warranty if they please.

Things are now pretty much back to normal and the third-party application scene is again bristling with new ideas and solutions for making your iPhone a happier puppy. Today, November 9, the Euro iPhone will start selling and word is out that it would flaunt the spanking new 1.1.2 firmware version. It will supposedly be jailbreak resistant, so early buyers of the EuroPhone will probably have to wait a little before they unleash the true powers of their new mobiles. However word is out that some developers out there have already hacked the 1.1.2 firmware of the iPod Touch, so a jailbreaking solution for the EuroiPhones is probbaly just around the corner.

Getting back to the basics, three things need to be done before new software can be installed on the iPhone. First is the jailbreak (that's not unlocking) and installation of the AppTapp (Installer) software. It's a software manager that allows users to install or uninstall software. It contains a catalog of applications from a default source (website) and supports adding additional sources (websites) of even more available programs. So that's about it and it's really that simple. The last thing to do is install an application that patches the Home screen (better known as Springboard) of the iPhone, so it can accommodate more slots for icons - those are needed for the new applications.

A crew of developers has created the AppSnapp application (not to be confused with AppTapp Installer) that does all those three things en bloc. And right before you ask, no, it doesn't unlock your iPhone. For that purpose the AnySIM 1.1 software is used right afterwards, but that's out of the scope of this article.

You can read more information on the actual process of applying the AppSnapp magic with simple instructions over here. The process is more than simplified and it takes no more than 10 minutes before you are up and running. At the time of writing this article, news broke that more than 100 000 iPhones have been jailbroken using this routine. And it was made available only a couple of weeks ago. Bear in mind that all that applies to the 1.1.1 firmware.

Where to, now?

Probably the best place to start exploring a free iPhone is the AppTapp application with the available programs. It appears as a blue icon dubbed Installer on the Springboard. The default source of applications is limited however, so installing the Community sources available in the Installer is another option. There are several other sources available that can be added manually - just google around for ones that other people trust.

If you do have an unlimited data plan with your carrier, please skip the following paragraph. For the less lucky, probably the first application worth adding is Services. It allows you to switch off the EDGE functionality so you don't accidentally pay for some pricey megabytes - the iPhone has no habit of asking before downloading something.

Now, one thing the original iPhone won't do for you is change wallpapers under the springboard icons. Their background is always black. The Summerboard application sorts that out. Themes can even be applied to the springboard icons. How cool is that?

Iphone Applications Iphone Applications Iphone Applications Iphone Applications
Changing the looks of the iPhone: from standard to really cool

What if more icons could be fitted in the springboard dock (the lowest row of icons)? Well, the xLaunch application does just that. The current example includes the icon of the Search application - a real goodie. It enables letter-by-letter searching in your contact list - a feature that misses in the iPhone phonebook, even though it's available when creating a new message and filling in your "To:" line.

Iphone Applications Iphone Applications
Fitting a fifth icon on the dock • filtering contacts

Another thing that the iPhone can't do right-out-of-the-box is deleting individual Call records and individual SMS balloons. You only have the option of clearing all of your call logs and you can only delete an entire conversation with a certain person. The CallID application comes to the rescue with call records, while the SMSD application helps delete individual SMS balloons that are no longer needed.

A serious flaw with the iPhone original software equipment is the lack of a To-Do application and the lack of a Voice recorder. Now all those are up for grabs in the Installer. The To-Do list is enough to set up new tasks and its icon on the springboard shows a reminder for the number of tasks that are due. <#AdRectangle#>

Should you miss a regular file browser for the stuff stored on the iPhone (system stuff, too) the Finder application is available. It allows users to Delete, Copy, Move and Create files and folders, permissions on those can also be set. Plus, emailing files is enabled. There's even an option to modify program associations for individual types of files. Some handy add-ons to the Finder are the Mobile preview and the Mobile TextEdit. The Mobile preview is an image browser for images stored directly on the iPhone without iTunes. Mobile TextEdit deals well with opening and editing TXT files.

Iphone Applications Iphone Applications
Using the Finder file browser

A serious flaw with the iPhone original software equipment is the lack of a To-Do application and the lack of a Voice recorder. Now all those are up for grabs in the Installer. The To-Do list is enough to set up new tasks and its icon on the springboard shows a reminder for the number of tasks that are due. The Voice recorder allows recording of voice memos in .amr standard audio format. Recordings can later on be renamed, played or emailed.

Iphone Applications Iphone Applications Iphone Applications Iphone Applications
Adding a task • listing tasks • the To-Do icon alerts you of pending tasks • listing sound recordings

We should probably conclude this chapter with an enhancement relating to iTunes synchronization. You already know that you can hardly upload any usable content to the iPhone without the iTunes software. Well, for most people out there that seems ok, as almost every mobile manufacturer uses their own proprietary synchronizing software for their handsets. But the nasty part about syncing with iTunes turns out when you try syncing the iPhone with two different computers - obviously Apple never thought of the idea that you just might happen to have two PCs - not even counting the office computer. So, what happens when you sync the iPhone with a second PC is that the new iTunes overwrites all the content uploaded beforehand. The SwapTunes software is meant for those tricky situations. With it two iTunes Music and Video repositories can be set up on the handset and switched between for syncing with different computers.

Reader comments

  • Android Man

all those years gone by. and the iphone needs itunes to do things. just apple making have to use apple software for your apple. Thats why i got shot of my Iphone, world of freedom open source Android is the way. If they put Jully bean on the ip...

  • S%M

Apple has been the world most respected icon and is the most half for those who love gadgets.

  • Shimwah Mubanga

I apple has been the only favourite in my life i love apple very much for every gadget they introduce i always get entertained.And i always wish to do my best and join them.