What is "Jailbreaking"?

Jailbreaking isn't something you do to escape prison. Tech Talker sheds some light on this mysterious hacking technique. 

Eric Escobar
2-minute read


Jailbreaking is the term that is used to describe removing the limitations imposed by Apple’s iOS operating system. This applies to iPads, iPods, iPhones, and even the Apple TV. Basically, jailbreaking allows you to gain access to the inner workings of your iDevice and make changes and customizations that you would not normally be able to make. 

You may also hear the term “unlocking” in the same context as jailbreaking, but just know that they mean different things. Unlocking refers to changing a phone to work on a cellular network that it isn’t allowed to work on. So for example, if you really wanted and iPhone but your carrier was T-Mobile, unlocking your phone would allow you to use an iPhone on the T-Mobile cellular network. 

Jailbreaking is something else. It allows you to make changes that Apple would rather you didn’t. There’s a long standing game of cat and mouse between Apple engineers and the hackers who provide us with the software necessary for the jailbreak. This means that the hackers find an exploit in the operating system which allows access, and with each iDevice software update created by the engineers, there’s usually a block in place to prevent the latest jailbreak from working.

For this reason, people with jailbroken devices won’t upgrade when the newest version of software is available because chances are there won’t be a way to jailbreak that newest version of the operating system. For example, right now you can jailbreak a device running iOS 5.0.1, but the newest version of the software is 5.1 and a jailbreak for the latest update may be weeks or even months away. So if you’re planning on jailbreaking your device, just keep in mind that you won’t be able to update right away!

Is Jailbreaking Illegal?

Jailbreaking is NOT illegal. However, there are some drawbacks. For one, it voids your warranty, so if something bad were to happen to you iDevice, you’d be out of luck. And there is also a very small chance that the jailbreaking process might go bad and “brick” your device, which basically would turn it into a very nice paperweight. This shouldn’t be a huge concern though as long as you follow the proper jailbreaking instructions.

I know your next question: How do I jailbreak my device? Tech Talker to the rescue! Here’s how to do this for all your devices!

Tune in tomorrow for more on jailbreaking from Tech Talker.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.