iOS 6 is Here, and Its Name is Cydia

Jailbreaking an iPhone to install non Apple-approved software has always been easy for older devices, but cracking Apple's newest releases takes a while. However, the Chronic Dev Team has finally released their "absinthe" jailbreaker for iOS 5.1.1, and all of us iPhone 4S users are now just a click or two away from free, open phones.

Jailbreaking involves three steps:

  1. Downloading and running the Absinthe program.
  2. Plugging in your phone and freaking out that you'll irreversably mess something up.
  3. Discovering a new icon, "Cydia," hanging out on your home screen.

Cydia is an alternative to the app store, the channel through which all jailbreak-required software passes. There are a lot of great pieces of software out there, but a few of them do a fantastic job of patching the remaining usability holes in iOS.

1: SBSettings- how does a company with such a killer design and UI team manage to hide something simple like turning off bluetooth behind several menus? SBSettings gives you one-click access to the most commonly toggled settings on the phone, and can be set up to activate with anything from a swipe from the bottom of the screen upward to double-tapping the clock in the lock screen. Beautiful (though they really need to prettify their icons.

IMG_1658

2: f.lux- This nifty program, long out for PCs and Macs, warms the colors on your screen at night to reduce eyestrain and blue light-induced sleeping issues. It's wonderful.

image from dl.herf.org

3: Five Item Dock- I haven't really messed around with homescreen replacements, because I think the basic layout is pretty decent. However, it's really nice to have just one extra icon in the main launcher dock.

  Five icon dock

I'm sure there are a ton of great apps out there, but these are the ones that have fundamentally changed my experience with the device. I'm with Gruber- the low-hanging fruit to implement for the next iOS release gets harder and harder to identity. The only big ones I can think of at the moment are:

  • Better maps with turn-by-turn navigation, which appear to be on their way.
  • Multiple user sessions, guest passwords, or some way for me to loan my device to a friend and give them access to a certain subset of blank, unused apps. This would work exactly the same as Guest accounts on OS X, and is such a frequent use case I don't get why it hasn't been done yet.