Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jailbreaking iPad 1 - Useful Apps and Tweaks


This is my third and final post (for now) about my experience in jailbreaking my 1st generation iPad. If you've not caught on yet, I decided to jailbreak so that I could get some of the features I really wanted that will be part of iOS6 but are being denied to the original iPad owners as part of Apple's 'strategy'.

In this post I'll give you some information about the Cydia apps that I've aquired since successfully performing the jailbreak, as well as my first thoughts after using the modified iPad for a couple of days.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the jailbreaking process leaves you in limbo a little bit. All you have to show for your efforts is the new Cydia icon. I'd suggest that if you want to do this yourself, you do a bit of reading on the sorts of apps that you can download from Cydia to make the jailbroken iPad experience what you hoped for, although of course reading this will help! I'm not providing links to the apps mentioned in the post. They are all available from within Cydia and can be found through its search function.

For me the top downloads so far have been - Intelliscreen X, NCColors, BannerDisable, Infinifolders, SBSettings, Activator, Fusion, and PkgBackup.

Notification Centre (NC) Tweaks

Intelliscreen X, NCColors and BannerDisable all change the behaviour of the Notification Centre (for the better!). Intelliscreen X allows you to view separate pages for normal notifications, Twitter feed, Facebook, Mail and RSS feeds without having to go into the applications themselves (even from the lock screen). Simply swipe to view the different pages. It's also possible to take certain actions directly within NC - so you can Like or Comment on a Facebook post, mark mail as unread or delete it, or RT/Repy or open a Tweet link. Being able to access mail, Facebook and Twitter on demand without having to load each app is a killer feature for me, and has been on my wish list for months. If you use NCColors alongside Intelliscreen you can change the background colour of NC and optionally blur the iPad background making the text much easier to read. Finally, BannerDisable enables you to temporarily turn off all notifications; ideal for bed time or during meetings.

UI Tweaks 

SBSettings, Activator and Infinfolder modify the way you interact with the iPad. SBSettings allows you to open up a window with Toggle buttons for things like Bluetooth, Wireless, and Airplane mode without having to go into the Settings app. It also acts as a jailbreak Settings app for developers should they wish to interface to it. Activator enables you to assign specific activites to different gestures - for example you can double tap the Clock to kill the current (or all) running app(s). A whole range of options are included with both these tools. Finally, in this group, Infinifolders blows the 12 apps/folder constraint enabling you to reduce the number of folders and the need to set up multiple folders for similar groups of apps. I can now put all my instruments in a single folder whereas before I needed to split them across 3 folders.

Apps

Last, but not least are the PkgBackup and Fusion apps. Since iTunes backups and Syncs will not recognise the jailbreak apps and their settings it falls on you to take care of it yourself. PkgBackup is a simple backup and restore app that can save your jailbreak data to a Dropbox account. Given that jailbreaking may destabilize the iPad, this is a must have app unless you want to lose your precious new settings and tweaks. Fusion is a small app that allows you to post to different networks. I've set mine up for Facebook and Twitter but other options are available. Posts can be made from a small window to any or all of the enabled accounts - again without having to go into the underlying apps themselves.

I'm really pleased that I made the decision to go ahead and jailbreak. For me, it was worth it for the Intelliscreen X features alone. I'm not aware that the system is any less stable - if anything it may be better now! It is worth noting that during the first 24 hours, as I was loading new "widgets", I did have to reboot numerous times. Many of the tweaks need to be interlaced into the OS so this is to be expected. Apps themselves don't require reboots, just like their App Store counterparts. Many of the packages on the Cydia store are free - some of those mentioned in this post do attract a fee of between 60p to £7.00 depending on the FX rate, but I consider them serious value for money.

As I aquire more jailbreak specific software I'll write about it in these pages as I would for any other apps for iOS or Mac OS X. I've already made the decision not to jailbreak my iPhone 4 as most of the iOS6 features I'm likely to use will be available to it. As for you dear reader - only you can decide whether jailbreaking is for you. Hopefully this and the previous posts will help you make an informed decision!

Good luck!

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