Back in February of last year, my friends convinced me to jailbreak my phone (iPhone XS). This was something I was on the edge about, but after unc0ver came out which supported my phone, I decided to give it a shot. Here’s my experience with a jailbroken phone for the last 18 months and why I’ll be updating to iOS 15 in the fall.

FAQ

What is jailbreaking?

First, search it on Google. Now, read this: jailbreaking is essentially unlocking software potential on your phone. This allows for little customizations for the software, called tweaks. For example, the lock screen customizations are very limited (I can’t change the font, size, or location of the clock). However, with a jailbreak, I can override those settings to have my own customized lock screen with the weather, calendar events, and battery percentage.

lock_screen

Why did I do it?

Jailbreaking is useful for me. As seen in the example above, not only is anything customizable to whatever I like, but the customizations are also useful. Having the weather and calendar events show up without having to press anything is extremely convenient. Another tweak I use displays song lyrics on the lock screen, without relying on Spotify or Apple Music to provide those lyrics.

My friends also showed me their customized home screens and features after jailbreaking, which prompted me to give it a shot. I started with unc0ver v4.0.0 and have since updated my way to unc0ver v6.2.0.

How can you have an FAQ without people asking questions first?

FAQ stands for “frequently anticipated questions.”

A list of my tweaks

The tweaks are sorted in alphabetical order, unless there are two tweaks that require one another to work.

AirPopupConnect: you know the pop-up that shows up when opening the AirPods case next to your phone? That used to not have a “connect” button, which this tweak adds.

AwesomePageDots: this adds custom animations for the dots near the bottom of the home pages. It also applies to folders.

BetterAlarm: the default alarm buttons absolutely suck. They’re two tiny dots (snooze and dismiss) that are impossible to press on four hours of sleep. This tweak lets me change it so that there are two giant buttons that each take up half the screen, making it so I don’t need the precision of a world-class sniper to snooze my 7:00 AM alarm. The colors and sizes of the buttons are also customizable, and it even works with timers. Also, in iOS 14 they removed the wheel selector??? At least it’s coming back in iOS 15.

Complications: Apple Watch rings are now available on the lock screen. I primarily used this for launching apps and weather.

counter: it shows how many times I unlocked my phone in the control center. (More specifically, it’s the number of times Face ID detects my face plus the number of times my passcode has been entered.) At the time of writing, it’s 28892 times since August 30, 2020, or around 77 times per day.

DigitalBattery13: this tweak shows the battery percentage in place of the battery icon at the top right of the screen. This way, I don’t have to open the control center every time I check my battery percentage.

dotto+: the red notification bubble is now a small pastel dot that’s the same color as the app icon. It looks really minimalist, especially without the number present.

HideBarX and Saw: the bottom part of the screen is reserved for the swipe-up home bar thingy. HideBarX removes the visual bar so every screen looks cleaner, and Saw gives me back that little bit of space so apps stretch all the way to the bottom of the screen.

iCleanerPro: this frees up temporary files (that were probably generated when jailbreaking).

InstaLauncher 2: swiping from the right side of the screen (near the power button) pulls out an app drawer (sorted alphabetically).

Kalm: this is how I get my custom lock screen with left-aligned weather, time, date, and calendar events. There’s a lot of customization available for appearance, alignment, colors, and fonts, just to name a few. I found out about this tweak pretty early and used it for my lock screen ever since.

Lune: this adds a small icon on the lock screen when do not disturb is activated. The icon I’m using is a small moon.

Lyrication: remember when music lyrics weren’t integrated into music apps? This searches for lyrics and displays them in the app (in my case, Spotify).

NewTerm 2: this is a simple terminal app. That’s it.

Prysm: the control center from iOS 7 - 11 is back. Functionally, it’s the exact same but more customizable, and it looks like the control center from the older versions of iOS with the circular icons and rounded corners.

ReProvision: I’m able to re-sign apps without using AltServer (the “normal” way). Non-App Store apps (such as unc0ver) must be “signed” every week using a developer account, which would typically be done by connecting the phone to AltServer. However, using ReProvision, I’m able to have the apps sign themselves automatically, so I don’t need to connect my phone to the computer every 5 days or so.

Rose and Sunflower: iOS 13 removed 3D Touch functionality and replaced it with long pressing apps. These tweaks restore that 3D Touch functionality while also making long presses work like they’re used to.

SafariFind: searching for text in Safari requires three steps: pressing the share button, scrolling down to the “find” button, and pressing it. This tweak lets me do the same thing by long pressing the share icon.

ShortLook: this tweak is an always-on notifications display. I stopped using this a while ago because it broke, but I found it useful when I used it.

ShyLabels: app names on the home screens disappear after a few seconds, creating a nice clean look.

Twitch++: adblock for Twitch.

YoutubeBGPlayback: background playback for YouTube.

YouTubePatcher: adblock for YouTube.

Zebra: this app manages all my tweaks including download, updates, and uninstalls. It’s an alternative to Cydia.

Zefy: this tweak sets my default audio player to Spotify (instead of Apple Music).

Future plans

In the last two months, my experience with the stability of the jailbreak has gone down a lot. The most common issues are some apps not opening, boot loops, and random crashes. Here is a video that showcases all the tweaks above, before I update to the latest iOS 15 beta. The new “focus modes” is something I’m a huge fan of and I can’t wait to try it out. Of course, I’ll be missing a lot of features I have currently, but I can’t just stay on an older software version forever (security and support issues).