From the dark corners of the Internet comes the news many have been waiting to hear. Tech blog Geekword is reporting famous/infamous iPhone hacker geohot has indirectly leaked the name of his iPhone OS 4.0 jailbreaking tool. According to the report, the domain name limera1n.com is registered to the same owner as blackra1n.com and that owner is geohot of course. Blackra1n is one of the most popular iPhone jailbreaking applications available. It stands to reason Limera1n, with its familiar moniker, is the newest addition to the jailbreaking repertoire.
If geohot has successfully jailbroken iPhone OS 4.0, there are some big implications. This has to be a blow for Apple and the iPad. It is obvious a lot of time and attention was paid to not only the design of the iPad but limiting the avenues of access to it. iTunes is the only way to synchronize media between the computer in the iPad. Input devices are limited to those Apple has sanctioned either explicitly or tacitly by controlling accessories. The only way to get an application on the device is through an Apple controlled storefront. For that matter, you can’t even use the iPad as a standalone device, it must be synchronized with iTunes to function. A jailbroken OS 4.0 means a jailbroken iPad and that means the controls Apple has worked so hard to construct are gone in an instant. Granted, not everyone will jailbreak their iPad, just as not everyone has a jailbroken iPhone, but the option is there now and that will make some people very happy.
Another implication in this report is that hackers are getting faster at hacking. iPhone OS 4.0 isn’t even out of beta yet and a jailbreak exists for it. There use to be some turnaround time involved in hacking but as zero day exploits become more and more common, it shouldn’t be a surprise to any company wishing to construct a walled garden that those that wish to tear it down are quicker and more agile. If geohot did this all by himself, Apple doesn’t need to pursue him, they need to hire him because he’s a genius.
Lastly I think this proves Apple is losing the arms race with the hackers and jailbreakers. Should they try to pursue a strategy of never-ending escalation trying to counter act applications like Limera1n or should they address the issues that underlie it? I’d say 95% of the people that jailbreak now do so to have some choice and decision in how their system operates and what operates on it. Jailbroken iPhones today have multitasking, had copy and paste at least a year before official Apple support, and run the native Google Voice application Apple will be “studying” forever. Instead of building the wall higher around their garden, should Apple throw open the front gate and let everyone in? An Android Marketplace-like iPhone app store would be a hundred times as huge as it is now. If Apple is uncomfortable with that idea for “the sake of the children”, why not even just open up the OS enough to allow for direct download of applications from a URL like Android supports. Apple may not like it but people jailbreak their products for a reason, not just because they’re miscreants living in their mother’s basement with nothing better to do with their time. As long as they don’t address the underlying issues, they will be caught in this arms race with smart folks like geohot who don’t share their world view.
Are you looking forward to jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad running OS 4.0? What additional features or applications would you like to add to such a device? Should Apple continue to fight against the jailbreakers and hackers or resolve the reasons why people jailbreak? Leave us a comment and let us know.