How To Enable Multitasking, Home Screen Wallpaper On iPhone 3G, iPod Touch 2G

If you're upset that your iPhone 3G is missing the coolest features of iOS 4 — namely multitasking, screen orientation lock and background wallpapers — you're one quick and a simple jailbreak away from enabling them. Here's how it works.

Note: When iPhone 3G owners upgraded to iOS 4, a lot of us were faced with significant slowdowns and decided to downgrade back to 3.1.3. In our guide to downgrading, several 3G owners, however, were perfectly happy with the upgrade on their 3G phones — some even claiming it was faster. If you're in that boat and want to see how your device fares with multitasking and background wallpapers, the process is relatively simple. (The iPad-like screen orientation lock feature is also available when you double-click the home button to multitask — just slide to the left for that and the new multitasking audio player.)

What You'll Need

Before we get started, you'll need:

  • An iPhone 3G or Second Generation iPod touch already running iOS 4 and already activated in iTunes.
  • Download redsn0w 0.9.5 beta
  • That's it!

redsn0w is a cross-platform jailbreaking app that currently only supports iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2G. Using it, you'll not only jailbreak your device, but you can also install Cydia (the non-App Store, third-party application manager/repository that's popular among jailbreakers), enable multitasking and wallpapers and a bit more if you want. So here's how it works:

How to Jailbreak Your iPhone 3G/iPod touch 2G and Enable Multitasking, Home Screen Wallpapers, and More for iOS 4

Launch redsn0w and point it toward the iOS 4 image. If you've already installed iOS 4 on your device, you should be able to find the iOS 4 image on your hard drive already at C:Documents and Settings[username] Application DataApple ComputeriTunesiPhone Software Updates on Windows or ~/Library/iTunes/iPhone Software Updates in OS X. The file name should look something like iPhone1,2_4.0_8A293_Restore.ipsw (that's exactly what mine is called).

Decide what features you want enabled. Once you've browsed to the image and clicked Next, redsn0w will prompt you to choose what features you want enabled during the jailbreak process. I chose to install Cydia (the package manager mentioned above), enable Verbose boot (which displays a whole lot of streaming text detailing what's going on whenever you power on your device), enable multitasking, enable homescreen wallpapers and enable battery percentage. Pick your preferences and click Next.

Plug your iPhone 3G or iPod touch 2G into your computer and turn it off. Your phone should be turned off before you continue with the jailbreak process. So plug it in via the USB connector, then hold the power button until the "slide to power off" option shows up — and then slide away. If your device is plugged in and turned off, click Next to continue.

Put your phone into DFU mode. At this point redsn0w will prompt you to enter DFU mode. The process, as detailed in the redsn0w wizard, goes like this:

  1. Hold the power button down for a couple of seconds.
  2. Without releasing the power button, press and hold the home button for 10 seconds.
  3. Without releasing the home button, stop pressing the power button. Hold the home button for an additional 30 seconds.

Watch Your Device Reboot While the Jailbreak Works Its Magic. If you correctly entered DFU mode, you should be done with things on your desktop, as the rest of the process takes place on your iPhone. Your phone will reboot, and you'll see a screen that says "Downloading Jailbreak Data" (above), followed by the Flashing NOR screen you see below. You don't have to do anything at this point but sit back and patiently watch.

When redsn0w has finished the jailbreak, your device will reboot back into iOS 4 — with multitasking, home screen wallpapers, and all the features you'd been missing enabled.

How Does the iPhone 3G Handle Multitasking?

Sure you can enable multitasking and the like, but can the iPhone 3G handle it? (After all, Apple didn't ship those features to the device specifically because they said it couldn't handle it.) In my experience so far, it's really no more slow or buggy with those installed than without — but I wasn't thrilled with iOS 4's performance on my iPhone 3G to begin with. So to me, it doesn't really seem worse, doesn't seem much better.

In a nutshell, then, I'm still not sure if I'm going to stick with jailbroken iOS 4 or downgrade back to iOS 3.1.3. One things for sure: I'm not going to run stock iOS 4, since it's ultimately the worst option. I don't get the marquee features of iOS 4 that I want, but I do get crappier performance.

Let's hear what route you're taking — and how iOS 4 is performing on your device, jailbroken or not, in the comments.


    Jailbroken iPhone OS 3.1.3 using Backgrounder from Cydia works wonders. Unlike iOS4, I've set it up to only multitask the app if I press and hold the Home key to exit. Works wonderfully for most apps (official and unofficial).

    I also use SBSettings from Cydia to provide me with quick access to toggles such as locking rotation, turning off WiFi/Data, changing brightness, etc, all with a swipe of the top toolbar from within any app!

    Works a treat :)

      Forgot to mention; I use ProSwitcher (again, from Cydia) which allows me to cycle through all currently running apps, and to terminate them from there - similar to iOS4's way of closing them, but with a thumbnail and don't have to double tap home or press and hold :D

    So... Dumb question probasbly, but not referenced in the article:

    What disadvantages are there to doing this? Do you lose the Apple App store or anything?

    It's also worth noting there's no easy way to UNdo multitasking and homescreen wallpapers if you want to do that.

      Actually it is rather simple to undo it, you just change a value from true to false withing a 'text file' (.plist) and jobs done. I forget which one, but I have done so.

    Been rocking this on my iPhone 3G since last Friday and it works great.

    Just a PITA that you have to quit and app, then double-press home then hold your finger down on an active app, then tap the '-' to close an app.

    I have been waiting 10 mins for it to reboot , is that normal

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