iOS 18 is the closest iPhone has felt to the Jailbreak customisation options of the dodgy past

iOS 18
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple unveiled iOS 18 yesterday. The latest software update for the best iPhones brings some of the biggest changes to Apple’s smartphone. There are a bunch of new customization options, designs, apps, and interactions. Not to mention all the Apple Intelligence AI features. But customization is what appeals to most users, it seems. And iOS 18's new options remind me of jailbroken iPhones.

After spending a day with the iOS 18 beta, I can't help but notice how much it feels like the old jailbreak days of 2015. I remember the thrill of unlocking extra iPhone  potential and personalizing it beyond Apple's restrictions. Even though it was a little naughty. And lots of users did the same. Now, it seems Apple has taken a page from that book, bringing us some much-missed features without the risk of bricking your device or voiding your warranty.

iOS 18 finally allows you to rearrange apps and widgets in any open space on the Home Screen, even above the dock. This flexibility is reminiscent of jailbreak tweaks like Gridlock, which allowed for similar freedom in arranging icons. You can apply dark or tinted effects to app icons and widgets, offering a sleek, minimalist look or a customized color match with your wallpaper. Back in the jailbreak days, tweaks like WinterBoard were essential for theme customization, letting you change icons and overall UI aesthetics.

Control Center iOS 18

(Image credit: Apple)

The revamped Control Center in iOS 18 allows you to add controls from third-party apps, resize them, and create custom groups. This level of customization was once the realm of jailbreak tweaks like CCSettings, which let users tweak Control Center to their liking. Customizing controls at the bottom of the Lock Screen is another feature that brings back memories of tweaks like JellyLock, which allowed users to add shortcuts and customize the Lock Screen interface.

Privacy gets a major boost with the ability to lock apps using Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode, and even hide them from search and notifications by moving them to a hidden apps folder. This is a nod to jailbreak tweaks like BioProtect and Poof, which provided similar functionalities for securing and hiding apps.

As you'll have noticed, for almost all of the new customization features in iOS 18, there was a jailbreak tweak to match. It's great that Apple is finally giving users so much flexibility, especially when Android devices have had the option for so long. But I also think it's a little scary.

So much safer, but a little scary

While the customization options in iOS 18 are exciting and offer a fresh level of personalization, they come with the peace of mind that only official updates can provide. There's no need to worry about the instability or security risks that came with jailbreaking. Apple has managed to incorporate these long-desired features in a way that maintains the integrity and security of the iPhone ecosystem.

For those of us who remember the days of manually installing Cydia, tweaking every aspect of the iPhone, and occasionally dealing with the headaches that came with it, iOS 18 feels like a homecoming. It's as if Apple has acknowledged the creative spirit of the jailbreak community and decided to give us a taste of that freedom, safely and securely.

So then, why do I think these customization options are a little scary? Ok, scary is the wrong word – I'm being very hyperbolic. Or am I? You see, I've seen some people share their new home screen designs on Twitter after installing the iOS 18 beta. And they are scary. Giving users so much control also comes with the trade-off of every iPhone looking the same, and, well, good. Of course, you don't have to touch these customization options. But for those that are using them? Some of the designs don't look great, to put it nicely.

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Connor Jewiss

Connor is a technology writer and editor, with a byline on multiple platforms. He has been writing for around seven years now across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech.