Jun 13, 2011
While I have long since sworn off jailbreaking as an unnecessary hassle on my iOS devices, I still try to keep tabs on the scene; after all, interesting things do come out of it. As well, there’s plenty of drama to go around; infamous Sony hacker Geohot was tooling around with hacking and causing drama in the iOS scene long before he incurred Sony’s wrath. While the Android scene lacks any kind of major personalities beyond maybe Cyanogen of CyanogenMod, the two scenes do actually share some similarities in their ultimate goals; even if the paths they take there are divergent.
On iOS, the hacking community ultimately serves two purposes: the first is to really just stick it in Apple’s craw. Jailbreakers are at perpetual war with Apple and their security measures. So far, the jailbreak scene has a lot of notches in their belt versus iOS security – only the iPad 2 remains unjailbroken, though it has been in the works. Even iOS 5 has been claimed to be jailbroken and untethered; the value of publicly even hinting at this while the OS is still in beta seems to fall somewhere between merely ill-advised and completely stupid. There are plenty of people out there who love Apple’s devices; their thoughts on Apple’s software policies are another.
Secondly, these hackers and jailbreak users also serve as essentially the beta testers for the future of iOS; major features of the OS have been created in the form of jailbreak extensions dating all the way back to iPhone OS 1. The the new notification bar? Stolen from Android, yes, but implemented by Notified as well. Folders were done by jailbreak developers long before they were an official iOS feature. Using the volume button to take a picture has been done by jailbreak extensions as well. Music apps multitasking had been done by Music Controls. Heck, even the whole app store concept had been done by jailbreak developers long before Apple’s solution.
The Android hacking community has similar goals, but have found more acceptance from the hardware community, at least recently. Users have been requesting unlocked bootloaders more and more from hardware manufacturers, and they are beginning to acqueisce even more. In what is maybe the most pertinent example fo the acceptance of Android’s hacker community, a CyanogenMod developer was given a Galaxy S II phone by Samsung themselves with the goal of getting CyanogenMod running on it. There is a value in the hacking community, and making their phones attractive to power users. Plus, it’s quite apparent that users are doing these things already.
Still, the parallels must be noted that both communities are all about trying to exceed what the manufacturers of these devices are willing to offer, in order to unlock the full potential of these powerful devices. The manufacturers also seem to be begrudgingly accepting these communities, and willing to use the innovations and features that they develop for their own benefit. We’re not so different after all.