Grant Paul, a San Francisco-based software hacker and open-source enthusiast, claims to have jailbroken Apple’s latest iPhone not 24 hours after its release, according to pictures published on his Twitter feed.
“I started working on it the day before the iPhone 5 was released, and I had my iPhone 4S jailbroken on iOS 6 in a few hours,” Paul, also known as chpwn, told me in an e-mail. “Then, once I got an iPhone 5, it was even easier; It took just about half an hour from first tuning it on to a jailbroken iPhone 5.”
For the uninitiated, “jailbreaking” is the term used for bypassing many of the software restrictions Apple has placed on its devices, allowing “root access” to the bare-bones operating system. In a nutshell, it lets the user do things not otherwise possible on an iPhone fresh out of the box, like downloading unofficial applications from outside of the App Store, or customizing the user interface.
Paul appears to have installed the Cydia open-source application on the new iPhone, as evidenced by the two photos he posted to his Twitter account. Cydia is far and away the most popular app used by iPhone jailbreakers, and is essentially a portal for cracked iPhones to discover unofficial apps and customizations for installation on their devices.
It’s pretty geeky stuff, and not really something the public at large wants or needs on their iDevices. But it sure chaps Apple to see it happen. And to see a new device cracked so quickly shows how strong the burgeoning community of mobile software hackers is.
Jailbreaking isn’t necessary with many of Google’s Android phones, as the software generally allows for downloading applications not found inside of the Google Play app market. (The exception to this, however, is when carriers and manufacturers pre-install their own customized software on top of Android, which some users don’t like. To bypass this, they’ll often “root” their phones.) The “open” aspect is often what Android enthusiasts champion over Apple’s walled-garden approach to software and hardware.
Paul hopes others will follow in his footsteps.
“I want to stress that the biggest impact of this is to allow other jailbreak creators to start working on their own jailbreaks,” he said. “In the past, this same set of methods to get into the device has helped others gain enough access to create and test a jailbreak that does end up being released to the public.”