So your 10 year old nephew wants to look through your iPhone photos, but you’re afraid to hand over the phone completely, lest he starts tapping away, deleting emails, sending prank text messages, and wreaking havoc on your homescreen. It’d be nice if you could limit him to the Photos app, right? There’s a jailbreak app that’ll let you do just that!

IncarcerApp for jailbroken iPhones will allow you to “lock up” the current app, leaving it fully functional but disabling the home button. With a quick gesture chosen by you through Activator, you can hand over your iPhone with no worries of them exiting the app and playing around elsewhere on the phone.

It’s a simple but useful tweak if you have curious friends, family, or kids eager to play with an app or watch YouTube without you having to worry about sensitive data elsewhere on your phone.

Once you download the app in Cydia, you’ll find there’s some flexible options to choose from to make full use of the app…

The first option in the app, “Global” settings, allows you to enable/disable the incarcerate function for all apps. It also lets you enable/disable a status bar icon to indicate incarceration is active, but that hasn’t worked for me. (Possibly a conflict with other status bar tweaks I have).

The second option, “Overrides” settings, allows you to choose specific apps that IncarcerApp will never be enabled for. This is a good place to turn off incarceration for the Phone app, especially if you use the ringer as the Activator function.

The third option, “Control (via Activator)” is where you choose your Activator gesture. Activator is a separate jailbreak tweak that lets you choose actions for apps or the phone based on gestures you decide. (SBSettings, for example, is usually set to open with a slide across the status bar.) For IncarcerApp, I suggest the double tap of the status bar. I found the long hold of the status bar would result in wrongful incarcerations (never a good thing!) because I tapped a button at the top of the screen in an app.

Once you activate incarceration in an app, a pop-up message proclaims, “The Judge Said: This App Goes to Jail!” Kind of cheesy, but hey, it gets the message across. Use the same gesture to free up your app and a pop-up message says “App Getting out of Jail…” Sounds like “The Judge” is disappointed…

The pop-up messages take a little longer than I’d like, so I wish there was a setting to disable them entirely. Also, with full-screen games, Activator through the status bar is useless, so you can’t use IncarcerApp. Disappointing, since games are usually when you want to hand over the phone to a friend.

So those are the ins and outs of IncarcerApp, which you can download in Cydia for free. What do you think? Cool tweak or do you never share your phone anyway? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Burge

    Sorry but off topic.. Is cydia down ? All I get is a error – data base error – don’t know what’s going on . I’ve done nothing and it was ok yesterday..

    • Indeed off topic, but Cydia is working fine for me. I even updated MyWi.

      • Burge

        I’ve just had to do a complete restore . ( at work , I’ll jailbreak when I get home and give it another go)

    • Suavedude

      Amazing. But I experienced the same thing yesterday. Something about “Database error” and parsing conflicts. I’m hoping I won’t have to jb my phone.

  • AppleBits

    I never hand my phone over…ever. FARRRR to valuable and loved and tweaked. No sharing. I’m greedy that way.

    • Z

      Even though it’s funny, but most likely the best way to treat your iPhone is to keep it to yourself =)

  • OMG this is perfect because my co-worker always wants to borrow my phone to go on Facebook but Im always hesitant because idk if she might go through my personal stuff.

    What happens when you receive a text message and you choose to “view” the message? Does it still lock it?

    • Good catch! I just tried it, and it looks like it doesn’t stay locked unless you go back to the locked app. Bummer, I didn’t think about that.

    • Z

      You can disable msg preview in settings. This way at least it doesn’t appear on the screen when someone else is using the phone

  • This is great, I’ve found a weakness though and it answer’s c0de_red’s question.

    If you receive a txt, you can open it thereby closing the app your in, going to your txt message app and when you press home, you get to the home screen, then from there you can browse the phone as normal.

    If, however you return to the app which you locked, it disables the home button again so I guess it’s like it blocks the home button only when you’re in the app in which you set the lock.

    ALSO: – If you lock an app, and the app has an advert.. click the advert and you’ll follow the link to the app store or safari, then you can use the phone again just like in the txt message example above.

    Still a good app though for when I want to show people stuff and lock it down, I use my Mute on/off switch to activate.

  • Irha

    This is going to be great for me when my daughter wants to play games on my phone, so I will give it a try. I hope it will not lock the screen out of answering calls though.

  • Irha

    Seems to work well for my needs, but note that Sebastian’s recommendation of using the “Status Bar, Double Tap” as activation method will not work if the app hides the status bar (like most games do), so I recommend using something like “Volume Button, Both Press”.

    • Z

      Not Sebastien’s – Matthew’s

      • Irha

        Oops.. right. Sorry Matthew!

  • Z

    How is it running on 4.1? The app seems to have been tested on iOS 4.0.1 latest.
    Any issues on 4.1 anyone?

    • Burge

      Seems to be working ok on 4.1.. No probs yet..

      • Z

        Awesome! Exactly what I needed for my 2 year old =) he goes nuts over those talking creatures.

        @Burge Thanks for confirmation and sucks you had to do a complete restore. Cydia also was/is working fine for me as well.

  • Asllin

    I don’t thing this is fully compatible with 4.1 yet. This app also “locks up” the face time. Also took 5 minutes to reboot when this app is installed. Once uninstall, everything goes back to normal. Tested twice, both acting the same. It does work fine. Just conflict with face time. Can’t even turn face time on or off under setting.

  • Orangesn0w

    Applocket always worked for me

  • Eric

    i use this app on my iPad cuz my 2 year old loves to watch movies on it and play his iPad apps And he loves to press the home button and exit whatever app he is in so he can swipe through my pages and try to delete apps, grrr… As far as keeping other people out of my personal things i use LOCKTOPUS to lock individual apps like photis, msgs, mail, ect to keep my info and private data, private. But this is a great app and have been using it for about a month.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this
    Sometimes my friends ask for my iphone and now i can give it to them with no worries for that they set an alarm on while im in school

  • Irha

    Anyone having issues with the recent activator update? I am still on 4.0.2 and for the last week or so, I have been getting an error dialog everytime I switch apps and it is driving me crazy. I was waiting for an update and don’t even find this issue discussed on the web, so I finally decided to uninstall it. Here is what the error says:

    Invalid Operation
    IncarcerApp has called an Activator API improperly from outside SpringBoard. Concat the developer

    This app was great to let my 3yr old play with my iphone (though it wasn’t perfect).

  • Marty

    got same error on iphone4 ios 4.1. I sent message to developer.

  • i have locked an app and now i cant get out of the locked even i used the same gesture…i used home button tap twice