Now that jailbreaking an iPhone is as simple as visiting the right website, it’s hard not to want to tread into the exotic, somewhat sketchy seeming world of jailbreak apps. But what can you get from the grey market that you can’t get from Apple’s bright and shiny App Store? Just plenty.
Need to justify your switch to the dark side before you throw that ominous jailbreak slider? Take a look at some of our personal favorites.
RockApp, Free through Cydia
When you jailbreak using the latest exploit you, typically only get one third-party app store installed: Cydia. RockApp is basically the Ford to Cydia’s General Motors, doing much the same thing, but a little different. It contains a lot of software you simply can’t get from Cydia, and even has what we consider a better interface. Apps typically cost more money, but every single one comes with a free trial, so you can make sure it’s worth purchasing before breaking out the credit card.
nes4iPhone, $4.99 on RockApp
Relive the glory days of the original Nintendo with this polished NES emulator for the iPhone. The virtual controls can’t quite match the red and black buttons you mashed back in ‘89, but we figure having every NES game ever made in your pocket more or less makes up for it. Granted, it doesn’t actually come with any ROMs, but crafty, subversive types (like those who jailbreak phones in the first place) will quickly figure out how to load their phone with them for free. Even your snotty rich friend with arcade games in his basement never had that much entertainment stockpiled in his closet – much less in his pocket.
My3G, $3.99 on RockApp
Like its sibling MyWi, My3G lets you contort AT&T’s 3G connection in ways AT&T never intended. More specifically, you can run apps that are supposed to only have certain features over Wi-Fi networks, like FaceTime, over 3G networks. Video streaming performance obviously suffers, so your results may vary, but a free trial will give you plenty of time to make up your mind.
Winterboard, Free on RockApp
Don’t care for the iPhone’s tasteful but bland home screen? Winterboard lets you reskin every aspect, including custom icons for apps, or choose from the hundreds of themes that artists have already cooked up.
Bite SMS, Free with ads or $8.99 without ads on Cydia
Composing and responding to messages with iPhone’s native messaging app is pretty easy, but if you’d like it to be even easier, check out Bite SMS. In addition to saving you time by allowing you to quick reply directly from a message’s pop up alert, the app features a host of other useful features such as quick compose, scheduled messages, auto-forward, auto-retry, passcode lock, and much more.
Zephyr, $4.99 on Cydia
Despite iOS’s generally easy-to-use interface, multitasking on the iPhone can sometimes be a pain. If double-clicking the home button every time you want to switch apps feels clunky and inefficient to you, then check out Zephyr. Once installed, the app will allow you to multitask the way you’ve always wanted to -– by using single-finger gesture controls. It’s pretty simple to use; swipe up from the bottom of the screen to activate the app switcher, and swipe side-to-side to jump between recently used apps.
iDiscrete, $2.49 on RockApp
Friends grilling you about some of the photos and video they dug up on your iPhone after you passed it with it in your hands after your 76th game of Solitaire? It’s OK, we dress up our dogs and make them play house, too. IDiscrete not only allows you to hide your secret files behind a password, it blends in so well that the casual inspector of your phone won’t even know you have anything to hide. The “password” is actually a series of strategic screen touches on a fake load screen, and you can even disguise the app as one of your unused Apple icons, like stocks.
iBlacklist, $11.99 on RockApp
It’s none of our business why you have bill collectors, exes and inebriated friends calling you at all the wrong times, but iBlacklist is here to help, not to judge. As the name implies, it can blacklist certain numbers, but also do a whole lot more. You can whitelist the people you do want to access your phone for stricter control, choose one of four actions (from hang-ups to busy signals and send to voicemail) for blocked callers, and even schedule which times, or even days of the week, to apply different types of blocking.
Auxo, $1.99 on Cydia
Tons of developers have tried to reinvent iOS multitasking, but Auxo is arguably one of the best. The key feature is a card system that shows live previews of your open apps – a function so slick and useful that Apple sucked it up and included a very Auxo-like update to the native multitasking features in iOS7. If you don’t plan on adopting the newer and flatter iOS when it comes out, you can still get this function with Auxo.
Tether Me, $4.99 on Cydia
Jailbreak tethering apps sort of fizzled out after Apple introduced ‘mobile hotspot’ functionality in iOS 6, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use them. The thing is, mobile carriers sometimes charge you extra for tethering – but Tether Me is built with specific API restrictions that supposedly hide your activity from your carrier. No guarantees though, so use this one at your own risk.
Octopus Keyboard, $4.99 on Cydia
Despite the fact that Blackberry isnt’ doing so hot right now, the company’s last mobile OS update had some undeniably awesome features – most notably the keyboard’s predictive text feature. Octopus brings this functionality to iOS. The tweak will guess what word you’re typing, and then display it just above the next key it thinks you’re going to hit. To complete the word, all you need to do is swipe up.
Hands Free Control, $1.99 on Cydia
As you may have already guessed from the name, Hands Free Control lets you control your iPhone – specifically, Siri – without needing to press any buttons. This is done by setting an activation keyword (the default is just “Siri”) that, if spoken, will prompt your virtual assistant to start up. I recommend using a word that doesn’t pop into conversation very often, as to avoid any unintended activations. For example, my trigger word of choice is “duodenum.”
Activator, free on Cydia
This is basically like IFTTT for your iDevice and it’s extremely useful. It allows you to set up trigger actions – things like triple-pressing the home button or shaking your phone – and assign them to specific functions like opening apps or executing other tweaks. It’s dead simple to use and easily ranks among the most useful utilities you can have on your phone.
Nitrous, $0.99 on Cydia
This article has been updated to include software updates, price changes, new apps worthy of being labeled the best jailbreak apps, and more.