Shortly before the iPhone went on sale in 2007, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that programmers wouldn’t be able to write new programs for it. This was not a popular announcement. “It’s a computer, for the love of Mike,” groused the world’s amateur and professional programmers. “It’s got memory, a screen, a processor, WiFi…It runs a variant of Mac OS X! Jeez Louise, why can’t we write new programs for the thing?!”
Apple said it was only trying to preserve the stability of the phone and of the AT&T network. It needed time to redesign the iPhone operating system, to create a digital sandbox where all those loose-cannon non-Apple programs could run without interfering with the iPhone’s “real” functions.
During that year of preparation, new programs appeared on the iPhone, all right—but in forms that most ordinary iPhone fans didn’t bother with. There were the semi-lame “Web apps,” which were little more than iPhone-shaped Web pages; and there were hacks.
That’s right, hacks. You can’t sell 6 million of any electronic goody in one year and escape the notice of the hacking community. It didn’t take long for these programmers to “jailbreak” the iPhone, using special software tools to open it up (metaphorically speaking) and shoehorn their own programs onto it.
The trouble with jailbreaking the iPhone, though, is that it’s not foolproof. Everything may work for a while, but a subsequent Apple software update could actually “brick” your phone (render it inoperable, ...