A software that allows iPhone users to use apps and software not approved by Apple changes the way a phone looks, sounds and even functions.
Known as “jailbreaking,” it’s used by an estimated 10 percent of iPhone users, including Austin Alvarado.
“I have a function on there that as soon as I hit the power on button - bam – it’s a little brief thing on my lock screen you have five e-mails, tells me who it’s from, just a little blurb,” he said.
Jailbreaking is legal, though Apple and the phone carriers don’t support it and it could void your warranty. But it’s pretty easy to reset the phone back to Apple standards –you just have to update the operating system and it’ll wipe out the jailbreak.
Kris Jones jailbroke her phone because she needed to change the sound it makes when an e-mail arrives. You can’t change that feature without jailbreaking.
“I have to have my e-mail walk me up in the middle of the night when I'm on call,” she said.
Speaking via Skype, Jay Freeman is kind of the jailbreak God. He created the growing – and profitable – Cydia, a marketplace with hundreds of thousands of programs that only run on jailbroken phones.
“It’s not alternative content, it’s not things that they are denying, it’s things that are fundamentally different,” Freeman said.
For Alvarado, jailbreaking his phone means he has an iPhone that’s truly his own.
“I like the ways I can customize the look,” he said. “Mine looks a little different than others."