If you've been waiting for Apple to officially open the iPhone and iPod touch for development, you may have been disappointed to find out that you won't get third-party applications until June. That means that if you've been aching for those killer third-party apps already available to folks with jailbroken iPhones or iPod touches, you've still got a few more months of waiting to go. However, by downloading and running one simple application, you could be up and running with a jailbroken iPhone or iPod touch in just under a minute. Sound appealing? Here's how it works.
The Special Sauce is ZiPhone
The application that does all the heavy lifting for you is a free, open source, cross-platform application called ZiPhone, and it can do everything from quick and simple iPhone and iPod touch jailbreaks to unlocking the iPhone for unofficial carriers (i.e., not AT&T). I'm going to cover the very basic jailbreaking of the iPhone and iPod touch, but the process is the same no matter what device you're jailbreaking and what level of unlocking you want.
When you're done using ZiPhone you'll be running a jailbroken iPhone or iPod touch with the latest 1.1.4 firmware. Since using ZiPhone is so simple, the purpose of this post is more to demonstrate just how easy it is to jailbreak and run those third-party apps until Apple finally gives its official, official blessing in June.
Prepare Your iPhone or iPod touch for Jailbreak
First, let's talk preparation. If you're working with a fresh, up-to-date device, there's really nothing to it—you're ready to proceed to the next step. If you've already jailbroken your phone once before—especially a 1.1.3 iPhone jailbreak using one of the older methods—then you should restore your iPhone or iPod touch to the latest factory firmware (1.1.4) before continuing. When you restore, tell iTunes that want to set up the restored iPhone as a new phone rather than restoring the settings from the previously jailbroken phone. (I can't speak for the iPod touch on this front, but the first time I used ZiPhone on my previously jailbroken iPhone without taking this step, the jailbreak resulted in some bugs.)
Now that you're working with a fresh device, it's time to move on to the easy part: jailbreaking.
Jailbreak Your iPhone or iPod touch in Under a Minute
Now head to the ZiPhone blog and click through on the "Click here to Download ZiPhone" link to grab the latest Windows or Mac version.
Once you download ZiPhone, you're ready to go. When you run the application, you'll see a window like the one of the two images to the left. (The first one is the Windows version, the second is the Mac version. Click the image for a larger view.)
The simple jailbreaks (that is, the ones that don't unlock your iPhone for other cell phone carriers) are pointed out in the screenshot.
Quit iTunes. (This may not be strictly necessary, but it's a good practice.) Choose the option that applies to you: iPod touch jailbreak or iPhone jailbreak. ZiPhone will cycle your device into recovery mode, perform the jailbreak, and in 45 seconds your iPhone or iPod touch will be officially and completely jailbroken.
Now you can go through iTunes, set up, and sync the device just as you would if it were fresh out of the box. (Just remember not to restore your old settings if you were using a 1.1.3 jailbroken iPhone.) When you head to your home screen for the first time, you'll notice two new icons: the Installer.app icon—which is the application that allows you to install the best iPhone apps currently available—and a web clip icon that will take you to the ZiPhone homepage (which you can remove if you don't want it).
Should I Jailbreak with ZiPhone if I've Already Jailbroken?
If you've already jailbroken your iPhone or iPod touch, there's no hugely compelling reason to do it again with ZiPhone. However, I had been using a 1.1.3 jailbreak on my iPhone prior to jailbreaking with ZiPhone, and the ZiPhone jailbreak did fix the common Google Maps faux-GPS problem. Additionally, it's always good to run the latest firmware if and when you can, jailbroken or not.
That's all there is to it. Simple, quick, and effective. If you've been dying to run more apps on your iPhone or iPod but the long wait until June is more than you can stomach, jailbreaking your device is easier than ever with ZiPhone. (Okay, maybe not quite as easy as the one-click jailbreak for 1.1.1, but still really easy).
If you're rocking a ZiPhone jailbroken iPhone or iPod touch or a device you jailbroke using another method, let's hear more about your experience in the comments.
Adam Pash is a senior editor for Lifehacker who's not sure he'll stop jailbreaking his iPhone or iPod even after Apple opens it up, and who likes the iPhone so much he wrote an iPhone book. His special feature Hack Attack appears weekly on Lifehacker AU.