over the past 2 weeks, I attempted to jailbreak my iPhone. The only reason I wanted to do it was that I thought that I needed a mobile hotspot and there are jailbreak apps out there that makes it possible. It’s either this or invest in a dedicated pocket device that varies from $200 to $400. Since it was a much cheaper option to just do a jailbreak, I gave it a try.
After trying for the whole of a Sunday afternoon, it never went through and I gave it a rest. Over the course of the 4hrs I spent, I ran the jailbreak utility BlackRa1n, it would always get the phone to the iTunes restore screen (the one that showed a USB cable and iTunes logo), and never got past that. Overall, I reloaded the iPhone 3.1.2 firmware over and over, and finally I ran out of time and had to restore the phone back to the original state.
So, first rule of thumb, always run an adhoc backup in iTunes before any potentially disruptive change toe the iPhone. Do note, this is not the automatic backup that runs when you connect your phone to iTunes. Let that automated backup run when it does. But make sure you manually run the backup AGAIN after the automated on. This will create a permanent snapshot of the backup in iTunes. The automated one gets overwritten each time it runs.
With everything restored, iTunes slowly sync’d the apps, music, videos, podcast back. Interestingly, photos are not sync’d, but backed up. Which is good, that you’ll get all your photos back after the restore.
Couple of days later, I thought of giving it a try again. Trying to see what I did wrong. The whole process was suppose to be simple, many people have done it, and it’s just not right that a Tech Savvy guy like myself just can’t get it to go through.
So, I just fiddled around and by chance, I got it to run!!
The instructions are easily available if your search around for the complete steps to use BlackRa1n. What I always got stuck at was the “iTunes” screen on the phone. If the jailbreak worked, it should have automatically showed a picture of “Frodo”. What I did different this time, was by chance.
- I’m using Windows Vista Home Premium
- I stopped iTunes, and killed the process “iTunesHelper.exe”
- connected the iPhone 3GS to the notebook (iTunes should not start up at all)
- ran BlackRa1n
- it detected the phone, and forced it to reboot (this is normal)
- phone comes up in recovery mode (iTunes logo shows up)
- bam… it’s stuck here again and by chance, I was checking on some security settings on BlackRa1n.exe
- launched 2nd instance of BlackRa1n. (the first one was still running and… waiting…)
- lo and behold!! “Frodo” appeared, and the first instance of BlackRa1n was able to pick this up and continue the process of jailbreaking
- it reboots once more, and returns back to the normal iPhone interface
I was pleasantly surprised. At this point, the phone is jailbroken, and the next step was to put in the “App Store” of the jailbroken world, Cydia. It’s a neat little package manager, and pretty much what most people will need to do.
To top it off, the jailbreak was done without having to reset the phone to factory default first. All my existing apps, contacts, calendar entries, etc… were still there and working. So that was good, otherwise I would have to reconfigured everything from scratch.
I tested out several apps that was suppose to enable the iPhone as a mobile hotspot. Most of them work similarly, with the main differences to be the user interface, and here are the key features I found
- all of them work in adhoc mode wifi, none provides infrastructure mode networks
- this is usually not an issue, as nearly all computers can work with adhoc mode wifi networks
- however, if you are planning to use an Android phone as a client, it will not work; as Android does not support connection to adhoc mode wifi (unless you root the Android device and hack it)
- most of the apps do not initiate the adhoc mode wifi, in fact it requires the pc/notebook to create the adhoc network first, then the iPhone will join in
- all buy one of these apps behave like that; the exception is MyWi
- MyWi will create and initiate the adhoc network and even broadcast it
- in this way, all devices can find the adhoc network that’s available and join it instead
- I tested out MyWi with the free trial, and I loved the performance; the speed was good
- it even works with my iPod Touch G1 which was able to stream youtube, etc.
- sadly, my Android device will not work, which is the main deal breaker for me
With that, I found a part solution to what I need. It’s only a partial solution because not all my devices can work. However, it’s good for the performance was satisfying.
To restore the phone back to the original state, just fire up iTunes, connect the phone to the PC and hit “restore” in iTunes. It will do everything and should leave no trace of the jailbreak.
Will I encourage users to Jailbreak? Only if there’s a good reason for it, and that being that you are a power user, and there’s a specific functionality you want and need that only can be achieved by Jailbreaking.