Installing unauthorized software on your iPhone device that enables it to function in ways Apple does not allow, a process known as jailbreaking, can lead to a plethora of problems, Apple warns in a support document. According to Apple, jailbreaking an iPhone can cause security vulnerabilities and general instability. It can also leaded to lower battery life, disruption of services such as iCloud and iMessage, and have other adverse issues
Flexibility is one of the key differences between Apple’s proprietary iOS and Google’s open source Android mobile operating systems. Apple prefers to have complete control over the user experience and ecosystem, while Google leaves it up to the community of developers and users to craft their own custom experiences, if they wish. There are advantages and disadvantages to both design philosophies.
Apple’s support document does not weigh in on the argument directly, but outlines the many reasons it feels jailbreaking an iPhone or iPad is detrimental to the user.
“iOS is designed to be reliable and secure from the moment you turn on your device. Built-in security features protect against malware and viruses and help to secure access to personal information and corporate data. Unauthorized modifications to iOS (also known as “jailbreaking”) bypass security features and can cause numerous issues to the hacked iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch,” Apple states.
Part of what’s interesting is that jailbreaking techniques typically work by exploiting an unpatched vulnerability in iOS. That’s largely why each new version of iOS usually requires new jailbreaking software by the developers who make such things. And to Apple’s point, running unauthorized software can lead to a variety of problems. However, Apple’s support document reads more like a scare tactic than a general caution.
“Apple strongly cautions against installing any software that hacks iOS. It is also important to note that unauthorized modification of iOS is a violation of the iOS end-user software license agreement and because of this, Apple may deny service for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that has installed any unauthorized software,” Apple says.
We bolded that last bit for emphasis. Of course, what the document fails to outline are the benefits of jailbreaking. Users who jailbreak their iOS device are able to customize their phone in ways that Apple does not allow, altering the look and feel of the UI with custom themes. It can also enable free tethering without going through a wireless carrier’s Hotspot service, and opens the phone up to a world of third-party apps.
Apple’s support document might scare casual users from jailbreaking their iPhones, but is not likely to sway more tech savvy enthusiasts who like to tinker.