Where Have All the Jailbreakers Gone?
A new version of Absinthe can be used to jailbreak the latest build of iOS, letting iPhone and iPad users open their devices to non-Apple-approved apps. However, the appeal of jailbreaking may be shrinking. New carrier availability, new additions to iOS and technical roadblocks intentionally set up by Apple have perhaps made the act of jailbreaking an iPhone less necessary and less appealing.
May 29, 2012 5:00 AM PT
The Absinthe 2.0 jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1 was released Friday on the Greenpois0n website.
This is less than a month after iOS 5.1.1 was released, on May 7. With Absinthe 2.0, iPhone users will be able to use the latest version of iOS while keeping the phone open to applications outside Apple's official App Store. However, the act of jailbreaking an iPhone doesn't seem to be as widely discussed as it was in iPhone's earlier days. Are fewer users jailbreaking their phones, or are they just talking about it less?
"You have to ask yourself what you're going to do with a jailbroken iPhone," Jim McGregor, president of Tirias Research, told MacNewsWorld. "There are so many options out there with Android and RIM, and there are so many things you can do with an iPhone now that there are not quite as many reasons to jailbreak an iPhone anymore."
Jailbreaking "too often bricks the phone, prevents updates, or creates other problems, and folks just didn't think the benefits were worth the risk, so most have stopped," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, opined.
A smartphone is "bricked" when it won't work at all for whatever reason. Apple has made it clear that it won't support smartphones that have been bricked by botched jailbreak attempts.
"The average consumer doesn't want a jailbroken device because it'll void their warranty," McGregor pointed out.
The Thrill is Gone
Apple "worked aggressively to understand what it would take to get people to avoid jailbreaking and has been pretty successful taking what they learned to make the practice unpopular," Enderle told MacNewsWorld.
"It used to be that jailbreaking would let you access several features iOS didn't include, but now it does include most of those features," Enderle continued. "That was part of the solution. Apple attacked both ends, eliminating the benefits [of jailbreaking] and increasing the problems [that came with jailbreaking] so folks would stop doing it."
In the early days of the iPhone "it was new, locked and a challenge," McGregor said. So "you had early adopters, hackers and aggressive users jailbreaking it, but now you're talking about a commodity product that can do just about anything you want it to. Now, it's available on just about any carrier anywhere in the world. You have a very small percentage of people that are really looking to hack these things."
About Absinthe 2.0
Absinthe 2.0 supports all versions of the iPad from 1.1 up, versions of the iPhone from 2.1 up, and the iPod from version 3.1 up. Support for iPad 2.4, the lower-cost iPad released in March together with the iPad 3, will be added later.
The jailbreak reportedly won't work for AppleTV 3.
Absinthe is a collaboration between hackers on the Chronic-Dev Team and the iPhone Dev Team. it works only in iOS 5.1.1.
"Apple aggressively patches its OS, and you want your jailbreak to work on the latest one going forward," Enderle said. "If you haven't been able to patch [the OS] it's likely you are, or soon will be, locked out of Apple services."
Absinthe 2.0 is available for Mac OS X Leopard and later, Windows XP or later, and the x86 32-bit and x86 64-bit versions of Linux. The jailbreak is an update on the Absinthe A5 jailbreak released in January, which jailbroke the iPhone 4S and iPad 2.
No Ties for Untethered Guys
Absinthe is reportedly the first untethered jailbreak tool for iOS 5.1.1.
Tethered tools require the user to connect the iDevice to a computer when booting, and untethered tools let the user boot the iDevice on its own.
"If you turn off your [tethered] phone on a plane, you can't turn it on again until you hook it up to a computer," Enderle said. "Tethered is a pain in the butt."
However, "I'd suggest avoiding jailbreaking unless you're willing to risk bricking your iPhone," Enderle warned.