iOS 7 and the state of the jailbreak: Is there still a need?

iOS 7 and the state of the jailbreak: Is there still a need?

When Apple announced iOS 7 last week at WWDC, I wasn't surprised to see that many jailbreak concepts had again made their way into stock iOS. If anything, this year more than ever, Apple took lots of cues from jailbreak tweaks new and old and made them their own in a way that only Apple can do. iOS 7 is one of the biggest overhauls we've seen since its inception and that may leave a lot of people wondering if there's a place for jailbreak anymore.

This year a few different staple jailbreak tweaks got sherlocked by Apple. Let's take a look at which ones did, which ones didn't, and where that leaves the state of the jailbreak when it comes to iOS 7.

The most obvious jailbreak tweak that made an appearance (finally) in iOS 7 is SBSettings, which has been redesigned and refined by Apple in the form of Control Center. SBSettings has been around almost since the inception of jailbreak itself and it's typically one of the first tweaks any veteran jailbreaker installs.

Not only does SBSettings give jailbreakers access to basic settings toggles, it also allows you to install more based on what you need. You can then organize them, delete ones you don't need, and more. Control Center is pretty much SBSettings in Apple form. It's a place where you can have quick access to common settings without having to actually go into the native Settings app. While SBSettings does offer a few more options than Control Center will, such as managing memory, odds are most users will be happy enough with Control Center that they'll have no need for SBSettings unless it's somehow tweaked to work in conjunction with Control Center.

Then there's Auxo. When Apple showed off the updated version of multitasking, I instantly thought of Auxo. For those not familiar, Auxo is a neat little tweak that will show live previews of the apps you have open in multitasking. Auxo makes it possible to see a saved state than looking at an app icon that told you absolutely nothing about what you were doing inside that app.

In usual Apple form, the multitasking that will make an appearance in iOS 7 looks very much like Auxo but with a better coat of paint and larger preview windows.

Outside of Auxo and SBSettings, a lot of iOS 7 dealt primarily with updating the interface and adding new visual elements.

So what does that mean for jailbreak?

It most likely means that jailbreak will probably still play a real role if and when an iOS 7 jailbreak is released. I say this mainly because some of the things we want to be able to do with iOS we still can't, unless we jailbreak. Items such as quick reply messaging are still MIA in stock iOS and it's something apps like BiteSMS have been able to solve. As far as Notification Center goes, there is still a lot of work to be done on Apple's part. While they've managed to segregate it a little better, I still don't have the fine tuned control over it like I do with jailbreak apps like IntelliscreenX or LockInfo.

Then again, Apple has only released one beta so far and a lot could change from now to public release.

Regardless what the public release brings in its final form, one fact remains the same; as iOS continues to improve, so do jailbreak tweaks and apps. Our wants grow larger and we find new things that we want our devices to be able to do. More often than not, it's jailbreak developers that find a way to implement those wants before Apple releases them to the masses. Sometimes the gap between jailbreak and iOS offerings can even span years.

If anything, I'm not disappointed by iOS 7 gaining functionality, I'm excited to see what jailbreak developers make of it and to see the interesting things they'll be able to create.

With all this being said, do you still plan to jailbreak iOS 7 when it becomes a viable option? Why or why not?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

iOS 7 and the state of the jailbreak: Is there still a need?

68 Comments

The only thing I might have entertained jailbreaking again for has been met with the iOS7 call blocking... and if that 'hidden menu' with all those available tweaks comes to pass in the final release, all the control some desire and get via jailbreak will be baked into iOS7.

What's a use-case for call blocking? I heard them mention call blocking in the WWDC talk but I guess I've never had a need for such a thing so I didn't understand it.

The telemarketing calls I get are always from a different number so call blocking would do nothing. A harassment situation I can understand.

That's when you save all those numbers as a contact named "do not answer" then you block the do not answer contact with the new call block feature. Of course you'll have to add any new numbers to that contact when they come through but at least you wont have to deal with those already assigned. I usually get the same Washington number from a "Captain".

I will keep jailbreaking if for no other reason that MyWi. I don't mind paying $20 a month to Sprint to tether, but I need unlimited.

same thing for me. I bought the pdanet and I hate to not be able to use it in emergencies. I use it very little mainly if power is out at home or when I am at my elderly mothers needing a quick jump on the web to check bank or credit card balances and such. other thanthat i just wait till i get to public wifi or hotel

I think you talk far too highly of the jail breakers skills.

While they provide a valuable service for people who need things that Apple can't supply, the quality of the jailbreak tweaks is, and always has been very poor IMO. They are closer to what I would call "hacks" than actual apps or even "tweaks."

The word "tweaks" implies a tiny nudge of perfection, a minuscule change that "corrects" and smooths out a problem in exactly the right way.

I've seen a lot of jailbreaks and I have yet to see one of them that is as subtle or as smooth as anything Apple does on their worst day. "Cumbersome hack" comes to mind sooner than "tweak."

Pull to refresh email worked just the same way as apple made it when they co-opted it. Pull to refresh safari is similar and more useful, but for some reason apple hasn't co-opted that. Plenty of other jailbreak tweaks integrate smoothly and cleanly into the OS. For example the infi apps (infidock, infidolders). I don't know what you've been looking at, but that's not my experience with tweaks.

This is not my experience with tweaks either. If you install things that don't play nicely together, then yes, issues can arise. Most developers are good about notating known issues and as long as you heed those warnings, you're normally fine.

Most of the main staple apps and tweaks for jailbreak work fully and about as smooth as an Apple release. When you start installing randomness and lots of it, then yes, you'll have problems when apps start fighting for control.

True, but therein lies the problem. I would definitely refer to myself as an advanced user, I've jailbroken my last two iPhones and spent hours installing and uninstalling tweaks and apps. I even installed hybrid operating systems on my old BB just bc I get bored with stock stuff easily. I have now gone back to stock iOS on my iPhone 5 (which I love) because the added functionality of the jailbroken tweaks is just not worth all the work that goes into making sure that one tweak doesn't negatively affect another or randomly cause the springboard to crash.

I agree that most developers are quick to notate any known problems, but what's "known" is the problem IMO.

One thing that no one can deny is that with stock iOS it truly "just works" and that reliability and ease of use is one of the best things about owning an iPhone. Why mess with that??

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I can deny it.

I really had my eyes open to see if Apple products really did "just work" once we upgraded from our Palm Pre's. And it's true that there is much to like about the iOS platform but with time it became clear that a good number of stock things don't just work (Siri being one of the biggest examples but the rest are well-known enough for me to be surprised that you said this).

Keeping stock devices helps us make fair comparisons and it's the stock almost as much as any other that has to rebooted to recover full functionality.

If it "just worked," I wouldn't get that look from my lady whenever she tells me about an issue and I start with,"When is the last time you rebooted your phone?"

Then we could get into HOW they work WHEN they work and these tweaks, hacks, jailbreak apps, and Apple updates look less like optional conveniences and more like sanity insurance.

My two biggest reasons for jailbreaking is tethering and quick access toggles. iOS 7 took care of the toggles, but I would still jailbreak for tethering. It's my data AT&T, let me use it as I please.

"Browser Changer", and "Googiri" jailbreak apps allow me to configure Google Chrome and Google Map apps as my default handlers for launching webpages and maps. Until Apple provides an option to change defaults like this, I'll be waiting for a jailbreak.

I also use (but never think about) Mail Enhancer Pro, NowNow (to launch Google Now voice search), Activator (not the same as a limited, hidden menu), AdBlocker (huge time & bandwidth saver), BlueSelect, Cyntact and FolderEnhancer.

I agree that it is a huge step in the right direction. I'm testing iOS7 on my #2 iPhone that was Jailbroken. I don't miss the jailbreak near as much as I thought I would. I feel this iOS7 has a ton of potential.

OTOH, competition is healthy. This is an opportunity for jailbreak app developers to step up to the plate and go that extra mile. As much as I love the jailbreak community, the number of earth shattering apps have been few and far between lately.

Some people will always want to jailbreak and install all kinds of stuff on their iPhone, no matter what…

I prefer to think of Tim Cook vetoing SMS quick reply as part of a master plan to keep masses of people jailbreaking, because he understands jailbreaking is the best market research, R&D, and security auditing Apple never has to pay for. (Villain lair and fluffy white cat optional)

2 words... Actionable notifications if apple would add them I would jailbreak any more

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I think being able to hide apps (such as stock apps like the stupid compass) and BiteSMS are still crucial for jailbreaking. Also not really sold on the actual look of iOS 7. I prefer a flat interface but the almost childish look of the new update is a huge bummer. If these get fixed/implemented before the official release, I see no reason to jailbreak.

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The quick reply is the main reason I would think about jail breaking. I really think this is such a no-brainer. They are including such functionality in OSX, so I remain hopeful we'll see it before the final version drops. But I really miss this from my jailbreak and Android days. I could also make an argument for allowing different "default" apps.

The only tweak that I would miss with iOS 7 is AnyAttach. I love being able to attach files to new emails and replies directly from my Dropbox folder. If Apple added the ability to attach files from iCloud, that would be perfect.

Until they add rule based email alerts, I will JB to user Mail Enhancer Pro. Being an Amateur Radio operator and Severe Weather nut, I use Mail Enhancer to have different alerts (tones and voice) for watches and warnings. This is a carryover need from my Blackberry user days. They have always had the feature. Now being an iPhone user, this is my only solution.

There's only one single reason that still makes me Jailbreak, which is a fix that allows me to deactivate vibration for the Alarm clock. I have found no true solution for this, beside Jailbreaking.

Multitasking is still done wrong on iOS7. I like the cards but I absolutely hate double tapping the homebutton. That's the most ridiculous way to activate multitasking. I want to swipe up from the bottom edge to invoke the multitasking cards (like BB10). Control Center needs to be in the Notifications Center. Only for that I would jailbreak my iPhone.

Back in the day my main reasons for Jailbreak were SBSettings, mywi & my3g. Infodock, infiboard & infifolders were also some favourites as were killbackground & intelliscreenX. Slowly tethering & FaceTime over 3G made it to iOS & I found myself on the latest jailbreak doing it mainly for SBSettings but after about a month I just removed the jailbreak & basically carried on without the quick toggles & so of the other little tweaks I liked. It's fair to say I won't need to jailbreak anymore especially once iOS 7 is out but I'm crying out for the simple small notifications for messages & mail that stay at the top if the screen until they have been opened & also a symbol to say your phone is still muted. That's not a lot to ask for I don't think. Still give a lot if respect to the jailbreakers for there hard work & the community that support & donate to them since I used to be a part of that support side.

I will jailbreak. I will always jailbreak until iOS has the option to disable the 50 meg download limit on apps. I have an unlimited plan that I pay full price on phones to keep. I want to use it like I see fit. I also tether unlimited with it, and yes, I pay the extra money each month for the unlimited tethering plan. The thing is, by paying the extra, I feel justified in doing what I want with my data.

funny:

ios6 - I had no reason to jailbreak. Toggle not important enough.
Ios7 - I'll jailbreak just to skin it and maybe get rid of the icons and maybe a less flat skin.

Note: featurewise i'd be cool not jailbreaking. but not fond of the ios7 looks.

Maybe to theme it because I am not a big fan of flat UI/UX and now they changed it I don't fel bad about changing it.

Yes.. simply for tethering, other than that, iOS 7 looks like it has everything I would have previously jailbroke for..

the only two things i see missing from ios7 to set me free from jailbreaking: TetherMe and Activator. Activator removes the need to keep pressing that stupid physical button. wish they would get rid of it already. it's so un-Apple.

Unless and until Apple stops placing restrictions on apps, be it on content, API use, or other things, jailbreaking will be around. There will always be someone that has that one idea,obscure or obvious, that Apple has not answered and some other programmer will.

That said, I don't jailbreak because I'm happy with what I've got. Sure I might be interested in some jailbreak only stuff, but the phone still works great without those apps.

I'll use iOS 7 for six months and then probably get a bit bored with it and want to tweak it a little as I always do. It's nothing against Apple, I just enjoy it.
I can't imagine not using the 'Data Counter' app any more either. It gives you a real time data download speed in the title bar. So useful when that annoying web page doesn't want to load but the network says 3G.

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I personally hate the large icons. If there is a jailbreak for 7, the ability to resize the icons is reason enough for me to do it.
I also enjoy being able to easily download and set ringtones via unlimited tones.
Yes, definitely, I will jailbreak.

The ability to respond to notifications from the lockscreen using BiteSMS and Lockinfo, keeps me jailbroken. I pray that the ability to reply to text messages from the lockscreen is included in the final release of iOS 7. I am straying away from the theming and stay jailbroken for tweaks like NC Settings and Activator.

I will still jailbreak. I need my intelliscreen and be able to preview atleast a week of appointments instead of only the 24hrs. Also I like custom theming including animated weather in lock screen and customizing the icons... Something apple will never allow us to do. Barrel tweak, custom iwidgets and widgets, bytafont, and messages+. iOS 7 is still no where near jail break.... Keep practicing and learning apple, jailbreak community is who is making your IOS successful. It would be in apples interest to leave loop holes so the jail community can keep apple upto date on what users really want.

Without bite I cannot quite leave jb yet. However they have made the advances that people want. Including iMessage blocking of annoying contacts.

I am looking forward to these new features...I have heard so much about it all from the jail-breaking community...but I have never wanted to jail break my iDevices.

I plan to switch to iOS 7 as soon as it is available, to capture it's "look and feel" as well as a few control features I want. Control panel, notifications, call-blocker, a less-juvenile user interface all look good to me. BUT, lets give the Jailbreak community it's due here - they have been moving iOS along smartly for a while, and deserve credit for that in addition to their creativity.

Also the "3G Unrestrictor" settings where you can decide what apps use 3G to download larger files. And of course automatic updates!

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One of the main reasons I jailbreak is for themes. I get tired of the stock OS look after a while and always switch it up. Also, bitesms, activator, folder enhancer, zephyr and ifile. (I love that I can move files around without using my computer) The first time I got an iPhone (around iOS 5 release) I was very hesitant to jailbreak. But I like to customize my phone however I want. Jailbreak helps me do that. I will always jailbreak.

My home button is not working anymore due to water damage. I don't like Apple's implementation to help me out with this (via an accessibility setting) so I use Activator instead. Free on Cydia.

MyWi and BiteSMS will still be two very strong reasons to jailbreak for me. My iPhone 5 was destroyed last week thanks to a failed Lifeproof case and my new one came with 6.1.4 so I am pretty well screwed until 7 rolls around for things like Auxo and SBSettings. Anyone who has gotten used to BiteSMS will find it hard to live without. I would love to be able to stay stock but if 7 lacks either of these I will jailbreak. IntelliscreenX and 5 icon dock are honorable mentions but not must haves.

I've been an iOS user since the release of iPod touch running iOS 2.0 and have purchased every new iphone and ipad since.
I've never felt the need to jailbreak, but have enjoyed watching the cat and mouse game between JB'ers and Apple.
I have no doubt we the regular joe users have benefited from Apples addition of various JB functions.
iOS 7 looks sensational and I'm very excited about getting it on my "i" stuff, and will continue to have absolutely no desire to JB my devices.
Those of you who feel the need to JB please continue to do so coz it appears a lot of the good stuff you pioneer ends up standard on iOS.

Thanks :)

I think iOS 7 will enable some of the more rookie Jailbreakers to keep the stock OS. However there is still so much functionality that is not allowed there is just so much that more experienced Jailbreakers will not want to give up. The first is theming, especially with the new icons that have people divided. Theming will be an easy way for some people to do away with it. Things like Showcase to show lower case keys on the keyboard, BiteSMS for quick reply of messages, etc. Now there will even be more possibilites for JB devs, maybe plugins that tie into CC allowing the user to change what quik access toggles are there. Now people can hide the Newstand app in folders iOS 7 will just add to the perfection of having a nicely customized interface.

Yes, intellisceeen x is still better and the new toggles still don't contain turn off 3g to save battery life. How about Ifile file manger, Nintendo, hands free always on, Siri tweaks, winterboard, so yes to jailbreak.

I get annoyed reading this same question every single time a new iOS comes out. There will always be a need to jailbreak the phone until Apple will let the phones to be unlocked AND Apple would allow widget and theme Stores rather than just Apps.

Great discussion. For my wife and I it comes down to scheduled texting in BiteSMS and more than 24 hrs of appointments in the lock screen through IntellescreenX or Lockinfo. Didn't realize how great they were until they were gone. Now the challenge is determining when to jump in for upgrades. My wife is stuck on a 4 in order to keep ios 6.1.2 with the untethered JB.

I will continue to jailbreak so I can install WiFiAnalyzer, it is an indispensable program for me.

I moved to ios, like I imagine a few others here, from webOs where the home brew community was very lively. I had a lot of fond memories seeing ios 7 pick up on some of what made the Palm Pre and Touchpad's multi-tasking cool. But beyond flicking apps closed, I felt there was an impressive balance b/w homebrewers and Palm. I think Apple watched that community carefully and knows the value of passionate folks pushing the platform.