What Does Jailbreaking an iPad Do?


Many iPad owners enjoy using the touchscreen tablet, but find the default user experience provided by Apple's iOS firmware somewhat limiting. Through a process commonly known as "jailbreaking," you can modify the firmware on your iPad to support a number of features not available from Apple; for example, the installation of applications, or "apps," from sources other than Apple. While a jailbroken iPad expands the functionality of the hardware, it also comes with a number of risks that may make jailbreaking an unsuitable choice for some users.

Third-party Applications

  • The most popular reason why most users jailbreak their iPads is to allow the installation of software from sources other than Apple's app store. Apps from alternative app stores such as "Cydia" can perform functions or address topics not allowed within the context of the Apple app store. For example, some apps on Cydia are adult-themed, including content not allowed by apps within Apple's app store.

Warranty and Firmware Upgrade Risks

  • While jailbreaking your iPad is legal, it does immediately void any warranty on the device, and Apple Store technicians will refuse to service jailbroken iPads. Similarly, if you install new firmware updates released by Apple for the iPad, those updates will restore the iPad to a non-jailbroken state, removing any third-party apps or device customizations made while jailbroken. Many users choose to accept the warranty risks and also skip firmware updates, but these are important considerations for any iPad user contemplating jailbreaking.

Unlocking the iPad

  • For owners of the iPad models that support 3G connectivity with a wireless carrier, jailbroken iPads can also be "unlocked," meaning they can be modified to work with wireless carriers who don't sell the iPad themselves. This means you can purchase an iPad 3G model with one carrier, such as AT&T, and then jailbreak and unlock the iPad to work with another carrier who supports Internet connectivity on similar wireless 3G frequencies. Before unlocking a jailbroken iPad, you should make sure your alternate wireless carrier supports connectivity frequencies compatible with the iPad.

Themes on iPad

  • By default, a standard iPad will not allow you to change much about the look and feel of the interface. By contrast, a jailbroken iPad will allow "themes," which means you can apply iPad themes that change the icons that appear for standard apps, as well as change the look and feel of other basic interface elements, such as the battery indicator. While implementing themes only makes a cosmetic difference to the experience of using the iPad, many users find custom themes to be a welcome change to the standard iPad visuals.

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