iOS 5 has still yet to get an untethered jailbreak, and unfortunately, a tethered jailbreak is kind of a bummer. Although iPhone hackers are making progress, it still may be awhile before an official untethered jailbreak is available. In the meantime, here's how we're coping without it.
Jailbreak apps added a lot of lacking functionality to iOS 4, but since iOS 5's release, many of our must-have jailbreak features were integrated into iOS by default. The latest version of Apple's mobile operating system provides a notification drawer, lock screen alerts, cloud backup and a number of other features that almost make jailbreaking pointless -- almost. There are, however, still some things you can't do on a jailed iDevice, but here are a few ways you can tide yourself over while you wait.
Share Your iPhone's Data Connection
Jailbreaking your iPhone or 3G iPad allows you to use our favourite data tethering app, PDANet, or its very worthy runner-up MyWi. Both will turn your device into a pocket Wi-Fi router so you can share its connection with a few other computers or devices.
For a very short time, the App Store carried iTether, a tethering app you could install without jailbreaking (for a one-time price of $US15). If you jumped on that app when we posted it, it works like a charm. Unfortunately it was quickly pulled, and there's no other subscription-free means of tethering your device without jailbreaking.
While you might be adamantly opposed to paying your carrier more money to use a data connection they're already charging you for, you might want to suck it up and just do it if tethering is really important to you. If you remember that you'll only be coughing up your hard-earned dollars for a few months until an untethered jailbreak is available, it's not so bad. Just be sure that you'll be able to remove it from your plan in a few months when you won't need it anymore.
Alternatively, you can start making use of free Wi-Fi a little more often. Grab an app like Wi-Fi Finder from the iTunes App Store so you can easily locate free internet access wherever you go. It might not be as nice as flicking a switch and borrowing your phone's data plan, but at least the connection will be more reliable and a little bit faster.
Customise Your Home Screen
When you're jailbroken, you can alter your iDevice's user interface in some amazing ways. For instance, you can even make it look almost identical to Mac OS X Lion. While that isn't in the cards for jailed devices, there is quite a bit of customisation you can do nonetheless. The obvious place to start is choosing a beautiful lock and home screen wallpaper since that's functionality built right into iOS. But thanks to the very handy iExplorer, you can also change your app icons as well. It's a bit of work and certainly not as straightforward as just applying a great, pre-made theme, but it will let you almost fully customise the way your device looks without any jailbreaking necessary.
Utilise Text Expansion
We love text expansion because it saves so much time typing. It's even more useful on a touch screen mobile device where typing is quite a bit slower. Jailbreak utility Xpander was particularly exciting because it offers system-wide text expansion functionality, where TextExpander only works with apps that support it.
In iOS 5, however, text expansion is built in. Apple just failed to mention it, perhaps thinking it wasn't that big of a deal. Now you can set up specific typing shortcuts with any triggers you want. It's almost identical to Xpandr's functionality, making the jailbreak utility pretty much irrelevant.
Play Retro Video Games
While sharing my iPhone's data connection is my number one reason for jailbreaking, playing old video games is a close second. The jailbreak community has created a wide variety of emulators that run on all iDevices and play most of your favourite classic games. Apple isn't too fond of emulators, likely because they present the possibility of copyright infringement by their users, but there are a few apps to tide you over while you wait for a jailbreak. Sega's released a few classics like Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Golden Axe.
Square Enix has found a new home for Final Fantasy I, II and III, as well as Secret of Mana and (most recently) Chrono Trigger. Although this is a tiny selection when compared to the vast catalogue available when emulating, it should be enough to keep you distracted until an untethered iOS 5 jailbreak is available.
There's Always The (Semi)Tethered Jailbreak
If none of this solves the problem for you and you absolutely have to have iOS 5 and a jailbroken device right now, you can always semitether. This means performing a tethered jailbreak, or having to boot up by connecting your iDevice to your computer and using an application like redsn0w every time you turn it off and on (or it freezes and you're forced to restart).
The upside, however, is that you'll still be able to boot your device into a special state where some apps will work and some won't. For example, none of your jailbreak apps will work until you do a tethered boot with your computer. A few of your standard apps won't work either (e.g. Safari). You will be able to send emails and make phone calls, however, which is really the more important functionality. If you're desperate for a jailbreak, this is currently your best option. If you're not sure, check out our pro and cons of (semi)tethered jailbreaking.