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iOS Jailbreaking 101 Part 4 of 4: Making the Most of Your Jailbroken iOS Device

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The reason we spent so much time in this article series ramping up to this point is because we want to make sure you understand the (limited) risks to jailbreaking your iDevice. Having made that leap, however, you are probably wondering what nifty things we can do with our newly jailbroken iPhone or iPad. In this final installment of the series we introduce you to Cydia, which is the de facto jailbreak app repository.
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Welcome to the final installment of our four-part article series on iOS jailbreaking. Before we proceed, you should take some time to read parts one, two, and three, in which will walk you through all necessary background information and prerequisite tasks:

At this point your iDevice should be jailbroken and you have access to the Cydia app. Let's spend some time getting to know Cydia and browsing some of the "must-have" jailbreak apps.

Getting to Know Cydia

Any jailbreak procedure worth its salt will give you Cydia. You can launch the app (or any jailbreak app, for that matter) from your iDevice Home screens just like you can with any Apple-approved app. The Cydia app is shown in context in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Cydia app

Whenever you visit Cydia, you should perform a refresh to download any package changes from the Cydia app repositories. This should happen automatically; the interface at that point is shown in Figure 2. To perform a manual refresh, click Reload (marked as A in Figure 2).

Figure 2 Cydia home screen

You should also associate your Facebook or Google account with Cydia as soon as possible. The main reason why you should do this is to make it simple to restore your downloaded/purchased jailbreak apps in the event that you have to restore and rejailbreak your iDevice in the future (we’ll discuss this point more later on in this article).

To link your account, scroll the Cydia home screen and click Manage Account (marked as B in Figure 2; the item is partially obscured in the figure).

As you can see in Figure 3, the Google or Facebook account linkage with Cydia has nothing to do with money; instead, the account is used for authentication and app download tracking only.

Figure 3 Linking an external account with Cydia

Speaking of payments, you will also want to set up an account with either PayPal or Amazon Payments before you get too far along in this process. Although many jailbreak apps in the Cydia Store are free, most of the “premium” (read: most popular and/or fully functional) jailbreak apps have a license cost associated with them. (You can see what a premium jailbreak app’s payment screen looks like in Cydia in Figure 4.)

Figure 4 App payment screen

What are Some "Must Have" Cydia Tweaks and Apps?

Your choice in jailbreak apps in Cydia will be determined by your personal and professional interests. Thus, my favorite jailbreak apps may not be your favorite jailbreak apps, and vice-versa.

That said, let me present to you a round-up of the highest-rated jailbreak apps as of this writing in June 2012:

  • Activator (Greatly expands multi-touch gestures)
  • AppInfo (Detailed metadata about all your apps)
  • biteSMS (fuller-featured SMS app)
  • Dreamboard (iOS theming)
  • Five Icon Dock (Adds more space on the Dock)
  • Hands Free Siri (Send commands to Siri with only your voice)
  • iBlacklist (Call/SMS blocker)
  • Infiniapps (Expands Dock and Home Screen capabilities)
  • Installous (Alternative to Cydia)
  • IntelliscreenX (Expands capabilities of Notification Center)
  • KillBackground (Full control over running processes)
  • Music Controls Pro (Replaces default iPod controls)
  • My3G /MyWi (turns your iDevice into a mobile hotspot)
  • OpenSSH (Secure Shell client and server)
  • PKGBackup (Saves your Cydia apps)
  • SBSettings (Various shortcuts and productivity enhancements)
  • SiriToggles (Expands Siri’s reach, especially in launching apps)
  • Spire (A Siri clone)
  • Zephyr (Slide between apps by using multi-touch gestures)

You can browse the Cydia app repositories either by tapping Search from the bottom navigation bar in Cydia (useful if you know the name of the app in advance), or by tapping Sections. The following exhibit shows you the Sections interface, from which you can examine jailbreak apps organized by category:

Figure 5 Browsing for jailbreak apps

Protecting Your Cydia Investment

You’ll be notified with the iOS badging system when you have jailbreak apps that have updates available. To update your jailbreak apps, tap Changes from the bottom navigation bar—this interface is shown in Figure 5.

Figure 6 Updating your jailbreak apps

Now on to more serious matters: What happens to your jailbreak apps if you need to reset the device in advance of a warranty repair? What if you want to upgrade your iDevice to a new iOS version and then re-jailbreak?

The good news here is that Cydia allows you to re-download all of the free and paid jailbreak apps. As long as you are signed into Cydia with either your Facebook or Google account, you can restore your jailbreak apps with a simple touch of the touchscreen.

To view your app downloads/purchases and perform a re-download, tap Manage Account from the Cydia home screen. In the resulting Account screen, tap Installable Purchases. This is shown in Figure 6.

Figure 7 Viewing past downloads and purchases

Conclusion

So there you have it! If you have read and understood everything I taught you over the course of this four-part article series, then you know everything you need to know to get started with jailbreaking your iDevice. As I finished this article I learned of Apple’s announcement of iOS 6. Thus, and you already know this, be sure to back up your SHSH blobs as soon as possible!

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