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Jail Breaking and Unlocking - explained -

Jail Breaking - what it is

Apple has made a terrific device in the iPhone. It has a couple of things I would improve on. One is a crappy radio telephone antenna implementation that actually seems to throttle down 3G connectivity. The other? It should be a multitasking device but isn't. It will run just one program at a time so if you launch "stocks" it fills the screen and looks things up for you. To go to "Contacts" you have to close and stop running "Stocks" then sweep over to "Contacts" and run it. I realize the Apple TV ads make you think otherwise with the fellow on the phone that moves it to speaker, and then makes a table reservation at a restaurant, checks a movie listing, finds an address then emails to the fellow he's on the phone with, he orders his wife anniversary flowers for delivery the following week while he is on the phone. Anyone that has used an iPhone even effectively will recognize that isn't possible in the time frame represented, (real time) in any universe. The phone might seem to be able to operate that way but it can't do things that fast and move between the websites and email that effortlessly.

The reason I'm mentioning this is... I tend to notice un-true things on TV and want to point out there's room for improvement in Apple's iPhone operating system. The iPhone OS is a micro-kernal version of their full blown OSX which is derived from BSD UNIX. A friend of mine Stu Slack (whom I taught wine making to... you knew I was an award winning wine maker right?) was involved in writing that kernal. Apple employees "try" to be secretive about things like these but Stu and I were picking merlot grapes in October of 2005 and he was being deceptive when I asked him what he doing at Apple these days. He mentioned he was working on a micro-kernal version of the OS and I corrected him and said he was then working on the iPhone (which I had already heard rumors about for a year). I'm kind of like DR. Cal Lightman (played by Tim Roth) on the show "Lie to Me" (which also helps me at my live poker game on Wednesday nights) and I was able to tell he trying to mask the truth on this subject. Back on topic... Apple's iPhone OS can be improved on and more quickly than they do it.

Jail breaking allows an iPhone user to place and use applications (apps) other than those blessed by Apple on an iPhone. That means they don't have to be bought and paid for through iTunes. They can come from other entities. It wasn't until iPhone OS 3.0.0 that you could capture live video instead of still snapshots. If you had a Jailbroken iPhone you could have done this with iPhone OS version 2 (iOS2).

The jailbreak process allows users to install applications that haven't gone through Apple's App Store screening process and that potentially can take advantage of programming capabilities typically reserved for built-in iOS applications. So jailbreaking takes you out of Apple's constraints and allows your iPhone to do more and better things. Some of these apps come at a cost like they do on iTunes/App Store while others are free altogether (also like the iTunes store).

Jailbreaking is when you run a program or sometimes two programs basically through a UNIX terminal emulator after a hard restart that goes in and patches the OS to allow you to download from other than iTunes and run non-Apple blessed apps. Technically, it modifies the OS firmware so it doesn't look for Apple's cryptographic signature which is native to blessed apps.

Apple's End User License Agreement, which you have to consent to prior to using the device for the first time or updating and running a more recent version of the OS on your device was very specific and overly restrictive. You basically had to cede your rights to modify the Operating System to use your device at all. Technically you are violating a user agreement with Apple when you do this.... the issue boils down to who owns the iPhone, the person that bought it, or the people that manufactured it. Recent rulings by the US Copyright Office have delivered a decision that modifying the Apple iOS on "your" device is perfectly legal. Apple maintained "Jailbreaking" was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Copyright Office granted an exemption for jailbreaking. Since exemptions have a 3 year term, it will be up for review again in mid-2012.

I have and use an iPhone that I have jailbroken. It adds utility to the iPhone while perhaps making it a tiny bit more prone to security problems... which I have never experienced personally.

Let's go onto "Unlocking"...

When Jobs made the iPhone announcement in January 2007, he declared that AT&T (Cingular) would be the only carrier selling it in the US. That made sense, because Apple had written the software to work with some specific server changes needed by the carrier. One of the touted features was 'Visual Voice Mail". I know you are going to find this hard to believe but there was a time on your cell phone and desk phone when you had to listen to every Voice Mail left in the order it arrived to get to hear them all. I had an Octel Voice Mail System with our Seimens Saturn switch in the late 1980's and it always infuriated me that I had to listen to each of them rather tabling inbound numbers or extensions of importance, in essence establishing a "class of service" for some numbers and extensions. Visual Voice Mail is that application.

So, to make the iPhone work only with AT&T where it would have that 'enhanced feature set' Apple used a SIM Lock which would bind the iPhone to AT&T as a carrier only.

That had a couple of negatives for some potential users of the iPhone. In parts of the country AT&T has sketchy coverage. Here in Sonoma County they are well known for having bad coverage in the west county so if you are a Verizon or T-mobile in that part of Sonoma County you were out of luck in using an iPhone.

Another reason besides carrier freedom is to not be locked into the cost of an AT&T data plan. It's a minimum $70 a month with $40 being the data plan alone and yet... the voice is also digital data packets so it's really the same type of service at much higher cost which offsets the "subsidy". AT&T pays about $655 on average for the 16GB iPhone which they charge the subscriber about $199 plus tax and a $25 activation. The unrealized value of $655 - $199 or $456 is the cell phone industry is called the "subsidy". The subsidy is paid back a bit each month (about $19) in the two year data plan contract they have you sign. It costs about $2 to 'run' your data plan so the remaining $19 flows as rather pure profit to the carriers bottom line. But they would never have a chance to "make" the $19 if they didn't sell a data plan. In most other countries the carrier is legally obligated to permanently unlock your phone for you once you have fulfilled your contract. In Canada Rogers does this all the time for their customers (subscribers). Those now 'hardware unlocked' phones are referred to as gold phone since they can be used on any carrier's network that uses the same network technology.

So with an unlocked you can choose your carrier and therefore mitigate your data expense.

With a jailbroken and unlocked phone, every time you cable it to your computer to sync it, iTunes starts a process to see if you are running the current version of the iOS operating system. When you jailbreak an iPhone you can't upgrade the OS because that breaks the jailbreak. It's very common for a novice using a jailbroken iPhone to click the box and allow the OS upgrade to occur. Then their phone doesn't work on their carrier anymore.

What phone do I use???

I use a White 16GB iPhone 3GS that I used to have jailbroken. I broke the jailbreak specifically to use iOS 5.1 on it. That version of the operating system is stellar. I save more money on my text messages than I could have imagined, because it's now all pushed through as iMessages to my friends. The 3GS is a well tested model that works well with replacement parts readily available and fairly cheap. It's White because I go to "overnight dance parties". These are typically at night clubs in the Bay Area... Ruby Skye, 1015, The Mezzanine, Mighty. It's White so I can find it immediately if I drop it in darkness.

I don't use an i4/4S because it's too delicate and the screen shatters in a small, short casual drop. The parts associated with an i4/4S screen replacement are waaay more expensive than the 3GS and i don't like spending time repairing my own gear.

I don't use a mobile phone much. I make myself available by phone *here* at my desk all days at all hours (it seems) so I use my mobile only when I am out and need to reach someone by phone or text. Because I use it very little, I have a pre-paid AT&T card so my "total cell use"" might be $100 a year for phone and text. Because I am still using AT&T as my carrier I don't have to Un-Lock mine.

Why an iPhone? I like the threaded text messaging. Apple did this by using an on-board database that keeps the messages with when and who,. then stacks them so you can see the context you are responding in. I like having all of my contacts in my hand and easy to see. I like having a relevant slice of my music, video and photo files on hand at all times. I love having WiFi connectivity and a full safari browser When I am out getting a drink at night I can pick up and send email using the wireless access points throughout Santa Rosa. I don't use AT&T's data plan because I use free WiFi access everywhere.

I am a film buff. At night, I may see an actor I know from somewhere else but not remember where. I use my iPhone with the Apple Airport Express for wireless connectivity throughout and use the Safari browser to look them up on the site. All from bed while watching a movie.

These things are much better than the Kirk and Mc Coy communicator that I coveted when I was small. Global communication in voice, text and web sites, with a multi media/game player and all hand held. Unbelievable!!

I know how to Jail Break and UnLock iPhones but I've actually stopped doing this because there is very little gain relative to the potential of "bricking" an iPhone.

In the US, there only two real reasons it's done anymore.

One is so people can use an iPhone on the T-Mobile network, which is the only carrier not able to sell iPhones to their subscribers directly. T-Mobile they have about 4 million iPhone users on their network.

The second is because your life or work takes you out of the country and you want to have an iPhone that works in the different locals you will travel. A number of people want to use their iPhone in another country but the carrier lock prohibits it from being used there even though the right technology exists to run their phone in each country. Having an unlocked phone allows you to skip through Europe using pre-paid phone cards in each country. I went to high school with Christian Vaughan, who has a business called "California Concept Ventures" which has to do with the food industry. He also does work with Guy Fieri (who lives here in Santa Rosa) in the US and in Europe. During one Euro trip Chris had me unlock a spare iPhone 3G he had so he and his wife would have local phone service there. (That model isn't something I would use here. It's just got too slow a processor to handle modern apps)

A year later he wanted me to do it again, but my opinion about unlocking had changed. He and his wife had already performed the act of 'upgrading' the spare phone's OS and broke the unlock, I was certain this would happen again... or some other oddity. We have reached the point, where a mobile phone has to be considered a personal safety tool as well as a communication tool. Why would you trust your personal safety... even more, why would you trust your wife's personal safety to a phone that has a 'creaky' or unstable OS?

And there it is, if you are going to travel, Apple will sell you a gold/hardware unlocked iPhone for $650. It will be the current model. It will allow you to use "one" phone everywhere and all of your messages and contacts will current and on that "gold" phone. The fact is you will paying the $650 for the phone through a carrier's subsidy anyway, why not buy it outright and get the full use from it? Don't tell me going to be too expensive, in the course of any trip's total expense, this is a tiny percentage. I really encourage people to buy hardware unlocked phones if they travel continually.

It looks like ATT is now doing hardware unlocks for out of contract iPhones. Read more here:

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I'm in Sonoma County... Northern California wine country,

    Frank Walburg
    Service Court
    Santa Rosa, Ca 95403-3139

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