updated 08:55 pm EST, Tue February 12, 2013
Update for iPhone 4S broke compatibility with hack
The team behind the Evasi0n jailbreak for devices running iOS 6.0 and later have unveiled an updated version in order to fix some bugs that appeared with the original release as well as re-add support for iPhone 4S devices that were updated to iOS 6.1.1, released yesterday. Apple released iOS 6.1.1 as a fix for problems with v6.1 on the iPhone 4S, including unusual battery drain and 3G connectivity issues. The updated Evasi0n tool (now at version 1.3) tackles other problems.
Problems such as app instability, battery drain and other mostly-minor issues are common with jailbreaks, as they rely on injecting new code to overwrite portions of the original Apple code. Other potential hazards, according to Apple, include security issues (as the jailbreak relies on an exploit, which could be found and misused by others to serve malware or foster hacking attacks as seen on the Android platform) and even an increase in dropped calls.
Despite the mostly-minor risks, the latest jailbreak has proven popular -- in part due to the prolonged absence of an "untethered" (ie semi-permanent) jailbreak that would persist through restarts of the device. The Evasi0n jailbreak works OS X, Windows and Linux systems to "jailbreak" iOS devices so that they can be custom-modified or install unofficial apps from alternate repositories. Reports indicated that the hack was downloaded over seven million times during its first week.
Early adopters of the jailbreak quickly discovered bugs, including the breaking of the Weather app on the iPhone (and revealing a hidden but outdated version on the iPad), prolonged boot times, and being unable to access a users' "Purchased" history on the App Store -- the latter problem making it very difficult to re-download any apps or media files users might want to put on the device. An unofficial app that helped users pirate paid iOS apps was also affected by the bug, though Evad3rs team members did not express much interest in fixing that problem. Some iCloud functions were also said to be affected.
Though the new version is likely to solve most of the outstanding issues, Apple will eventually release an iOS update that plugs the exploits used by the jailbreak. Even an "untethered" jailbreak only works until the next major upgrade, where users have to hold off updating until the team can overcome the changes and release a new version.
One reason untethered jailbreaks were so elusive in iOS 5 and 6 was because of security improvements made by Apple to safeguard against the exploits that could be used for jailbreaking or other, more malicious purposes. Jailbreaking is actually legal for owners, but Apple reserves the right to refuse warranty service if the device cannot be reset back to its un-jailbroken state. Unlocking an iPhone or iPad without carrier permission (or having bought it unlocked originally) is now illegal in the US following a change in the rulings from the US Copyright Office.