Following a ruling this week by the Copyright Office and Librarian of Congress, it's not illegal to jailbreak an iPhone. Hurrah! It's the latest clash subcultures: Apple fans vs. the iPhone anarchists, aka the iOS Flash fanatics.
The Electronic Freedom Foundation announced the victory on Monday:
In its reasoning in favor of EFF's jailbreaking exemption, the Copyright Office rejected Apple's claim that copyright law prevents people from installing unapproved programs on iPhones: "When one jailbreaks a smartphone in order to make the operating system on that phone interoperable with an independently created application that has not been approved by the maker of the smartphone or the maker of its operating system, the modifications that are made purely for the purpose of such interoperability are fair uses."
Note: I am a contributor to the EFF and agree with the ruling. It should be considered "fair use" to hack your computer or computing device. But that doesn't mean that you should do it.
And on Tuesday in response, Apple repeated its usual party line at The Cult of Mac:
"Apple’s goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience. As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.”
Apple has always maintained that jailbreak software can disrupt other software and system services. For example, sync services as well as "apps that use the Apple Push Notification Service have had difficulty receiving notifications or received notifications that were intended for a different hacked device."
How can anyone deny that these bad things can happen? Come on, these are hacks, right? Maybe, maybe not. But more on the maybe side.
But the big problems for jailbroken iPhones is the chance that the hacked iOS device might become bricked, "permanently inoperable" in Apple-speak, when a future update is installed. It could happen.
Apple strongly cautions against installing any software that hacks the iOS. It is also important to note that unauthorized modification of the iOS is a violation of the iPhone end-user license agreement and because of this, Apple may deny service for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that has installed any unauthorized software.
A computing device is an investment, in the hardware and software, but mostly in the time we put into learning how to use it effectively and to integrate it into our workflow and lifestyle. It's that productivity thing. However, it's hard to reconcile jailbreaking with productivity.
Right now, the noble cause of the iPhone anarchists is Adobe Flash. A recent example is Frash, a port from the Android OS, according to the Redmond Pi blog.
Dubbed as “Frash”, this is basically a port of Adobe Flash runtime for Android running on iPad using a compatibility layer. You can check out the video after the break to see it for yourself. It looks really promising, specially because its coming from non other than well known iPhone hacker named comex.
For the first generation iPhone, one could understand the attraction of jailbreaking an iPhone. There was no approved SDK, nor 225+ thousand applications to get things done. But even then, it was a chancy bet. Now, it's counterproductive foolishness.
So, iPhone users have choices: whether they will hang with Apple or the jailbreaking iPhone hackers. Or whether they will have the goal of getting their work done or following the dream of running Flash on the iPhone. Or having an iPhone that works or may be bricked? What choices!