If a new iPhone or iPod touch found its way under your tree and you just can't wait until Apple officially supports third-party application development to extend its functionality (who can wait until February?), it's time you jailbreak your favorite new portable device. We've covered two methods for doing so already, but that feisty Apple keeps on changing things up, and the latest firmware (which all of you new owners are likely running) requires a bit more finesse before you gain access to the throng of great apps that have already been developed for the iPhone. So today we're jailbreaking that iPhone or iTouch of yours to open it up to the wonderful world of third-party software.
NOTE: I've only tested these instructions on my iPhone using a Mac, so I can't absolutely guarantee the same level of success on the iPod touch or Windows computers. However, the software was made to jailbreak either the iPod touch or the iPhone on either Windows or Macs, so it should work fine on either. That said, I'll be referring to the iPhone through the rest of these instructions. If you're looking to install apps without activating your iPhone with AT&T, our pals over at Gizmodo have covered that.
Check Your Firmware Version
First thing's first: Dock your iPhone, open up iTunes, and find out what version of the iPhone firmware you're running by clicking on the Summary tab when your device is docked and seeing what it says after Software Version. If for some reason you're running one of the early 1.0 firmwares (1.0.0, 1.0.1, 1.0.2), we've already covered how to jailbreak those phones here. Instead, though, I'd recommend jailbreaking your phone using the following method, since you'll get new and improved features from the newer firmware. If you're currently running the 1.1.1 firmware, skip straight to the Jailbreak Your 1.1.1 iPhone or iPod touch section.
Downgrade or Upgrade to the 1.1.1 Firmware
Whether you're running 1.1.2 (the latest firmware) or one of the early 1.0 versions, you want to install the 1.1.1 firmware on your iPhone if it's not the firmware you're currently running. The reason is that the 1.1.1 firmware features a one-click jailbreak through mobile Safari, which makes the process incredibly simple and is a necessary step in jailbreaking the latest 1.1.2 version. So how do you successfully downgrade/upgrade to 1.1.1 since it's not the latest firmware?
Well, first you need to download the 1.1.1 firmware, which you can do here. Make sure that the file ends in
_Restore.ipsw, which it should by default. While it's downloading, go ahead and reboot your iPhone by holding down the power and home buttons at the same time, then releasing the power button as soon as the screen goes black. Continue holding the home button until your device enters recovery mode (as indicated in the screenshot).
Since your firmware is probably still downloading, go ahead and download the 1.1.2 jailbreak files here and unzip the contents on your desktop.
When the firmware completes downloading (which—at a whopping 152 MB—can take a little time), make sure you know where you've saved it and fire up iTunes if it isn't already open. Again go to the same Summary tab where you found your current firmware version. This time, though, you're going to restore the firmware to the 1.1.1 version you just downloaded. To do this, Shift-Click the Restore button in Windows or Option-Click on a Mac and browse to where you saved the 1.1.1 firmware, select it, and restore. When the restore process completes, it will end with an error. Don't worry if this happens, as the jailbreak software is made to overcome the error.
Once you get to this point, run either the windows.bat file if you're a Windows user or the jailbreak.jar user if you're on a Mac to get your phone past this error and booting into the 1.1.1 firmware. If you're running jailbreak.jar, all you need to do is click the Boot from Recovery button.
Jailbreak Your 1.1.1 iPhone or iPod touch
Now it's time to perform the first portion of the jailbreak with the 1.1.1 firmware, which—as I said above—is extremely easy. We've covered this in detail before, but here's a quick refresher:
Point mobile Safari to http://jailbreakme.com/ and tap the Install AppSnapp link. Safari will close after a bit and eventually your phone will return to the Slide to unlock screen. After your unlock the phone, you should see Installer.app on your home screen, meaning it worked. When I used this method my iPhone froze the first time I tried unlocking it, so I restarted my phone and sure enough, there was Installer.app. That's really all there is to it.
Jailbreak and Upgrade to 1.1.2
At this point you could just rest comfortably in the knowledge that you're running nearly the latest firmware and it really doesn't have that many differences from the latest version, but if you want to take advantage of the latest ringtone improvements and you want to be sure you've got all the latest and greatest bug fixes and features available, you may want to upgrade to 1.1.2. I did, and here's how it works.
First, fire up Installer.app on your iPhone, find the Tweaks (1.1.1) section of the Install tab, and install an application called OktoPrep. Nothing special will show up on your phone after you install it, but it will have made a few tweaks on your device making it possible to jailbreak 1.1.2 after you upgrade.
Now you just upgrade your iPhone the normal way—by connecting your device to iTunes and selecting Update from the Summary tab. iTunes will go through the long download and upgrade process and when it's done, you'll be updated to 1.1.2 but not jailbroken. To complete the jailbreak, head back to the 1.1.2-jailbreak Folder you downloaded earlier and re-run either windows.bat (if you're a Windows user) or jailbreak.jar (if you're on a Mac).
Follow the instructions each app offers, and when they finish, you should see Installer.app on your home screen and be completely updated to the latest firmware and jailbroken. That means it's time to start installing those apps!
My current favorites—for those of you new to third-party iPhone or iPod touch apps—include:
- iFlix, and incredible Netflix account management tool
- iMapIdle, an app that works in conjunction with IMAP email (including Gmail) to enable real-time, push-like email notification
- iPhoneHome, an app that lets you change the default double-click behavior for the home button
- Navizon, a pseudo-GPS locator that determines your location in Google Maps using cell towers your phone communicates with (iPhone only, obviously)
- Apollo, the native IM app
- MobileScrobbler, which uploads everything you play on your iPod to your Last.fm account
- WebSearch, a web search tool for quickly performing a search on any web site without going through the rigmarole of loading a site, finding the search box, and then entering your search terms
- HuaRongDao and iSolitaire, a couple of really nice looking and addictive games for your device.
Now you're probably thinking, Great, my iPhone's all jailbroken, but I sure wish I knew all the ins and outs of this beast, including how I can squeeze the most productivity from this little gem of a device. Lucky for you, the best iPhone book I've ever written (with Jason Chen of Gizmodo) is both in stores and shipping right now!
Finally, if you're looking for more to do with your iPhone, here's how you can:
- Use Your iPhone's Internet Connection On Your Laptop
- Stream Music from Your iPod touch or iPhone to Any iTunes Library
- Set Up Gmail with IMAP
- Remote Control Your Computer with Your iPhone
Adam Pash is a senior editor for Lifehacker who hacks his iPhone for business and pleasure.