Your phone wants to be free. Time to stage a jailbreak.
It’s been nearly three months since Apple released iOS 7 to the public, and—despite a 70% adoption rate amongst users—a jailbreak still isn’t available for Apple’s newest mobile operating system. Well, accessibility advocate Chris Maury and activist Elizabeth Stark just sweetened the pot a little bit.
Yesterday, Maury launched the Device Freedom Prize, a crowdfunded reward for the first developers to release an open source jailbreak for iOS 7.
“We strongly believe that users should have the freedom to control their devices,” the contest details explain. “We wanted an open source jailbreak for iOS 7, giving users the capability to install what they want on their own devices and the ability to audit the code they're using to do so.”
Jailbreaking removes the limitations that Apple places on its operating system—and, by extension, on its users. Even though Apple frowns on the practice, jailbreaking is a popular hack. The most successful jailbreak package for iOS 6.1, evasi0n, was downloaded onto 7 million devices just four days after its release earlier this year.
For some users, a jailbreak is absolutely essential to get what they need from their iPhones, iPods, and iPads. As Maury points out, jailbreaking has been critical to ensuring that those with disabilities are able to use their mobile devices as easily as possible.
Jailbreaking also extends the life of our gadgets. As it stands, the hardware in your devices—from your iPad to your gaming console—is designed to last years longer than the software. Jailbroken devices have access to manufacturer-unauthorized software and programs that repurpose devices in ways unanticipated by the manufacturer. Jay Freeman's Cydia, for example, is an alternative to Apple's App Store for "jailbroken" devices. It specializes in the distribution of all that is not an "app".
As of day two, the cash-monies reward for the Device Freedom Prize is well over $2,000. That sum will grow as news of the contest spreads. Judges for the contest include Maury, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, author and activist Cory Doctorow, and Biella Coleman of Coding for Freedom.
The jailbreak must:
Work for iPhones (including 4S, 5, 5c, 5s) running iOS 7.
Support the latest current version of iOS (7.04).
Be untethered and accessible to the average user.
Be publicly released and available free of charge.
Be released under one of the OSI-approved licenses.
So, if so think you have the coding muscle to jailbreak iOS 7, or you want to support the crowdfunding effort, head on over to the Device Freedom Prize. It’s time to set our phones free.