I’ve always tinkered with my devices, regardless of their OS. I remember installing leaked versions of RIM’s OS 6 on my old BlackBerry Bold, and rooting my Android handsets to install the latest ROMs.

But out of all of those experiences, I can honestly say that hacking devices, customizing them and installing tweaks, is much easier to do on iOS than it is on any other platform — even the “open” Android…

Lifehacker’s Whitson Gordon  — a long-time Android user — attests to this rather well in a recent article entitled “Forget Android: the iPhone Is a Better Phone for Hacking, Tweaking, and Customization.”

The entire piece is worth a read, but Gordon’s best point comes in the third paragraph when he starts talking about the complications of rooting (aka the jailbreaking of Android):

“But, when you really want to get down to tweaking the nitty-gritty, the fact of the matter is that rooting is what opens up real possibilities. Unfortunately, rooting is about as big of a headache as breaking into a bank vault with a safety pin. You have over 100 different Android phones out there, each with its own rooting method, caveats, and risks that you have to research. It’s so annoying that we had to turn our rooting guide into a guide for only the top 10 phones, in addition to tacking on an exhaustive glossary of all the crap you have to know before starting the process. Our jailbreak guide, on the other hand, is 3 steps long.”

That last line really sums it up. To jailbreak my iPhone 4S (or practically any other iOS device), all I need to do is plug it into my computer, launch Absinthe, and click the ‘jailbreak’ button. And it works on practically any device, and a number of firmwares.

And the problems with Android hacking don’t stop there:

“The headache doesn’t stop with rooting, either. Because Android has so many devices and so many different versions of itself floating around (the sad downside of open source), a lot of the tweaks you get are sadly specific to a certain device or ROM. Tweaks that work with Sense ROMs won’t work with AOSP ROMs, and Gingerbread tweaks probably won’t work with Ice Cream Sandwich-based ROMs.”

I’ll admit that this is an issue we run into on iOS (think tweaks that needed to be updated for iOS 5), but it’s on a much, much smaller scale. Most jailbreak developers are typically developing for the same set of devices and firmwares.

Gordon continues:

“Now, I’m the first guy to complain about how slow and annoying Cydia can be, but after coming from Android, I’ve realized that Cydia is the greatest thing to happen to us phone tweakers. Want to install an app, tweak or customization to your iPhone? Chances are pretty darn good you’ll find it among the thousands of apps and tweaks available in Cydia. Want to do the same on Android? Once you’ve narrowed down the tweaks that your device can actually use, you’ll have to root through forums like XDA Developers or RootzWiki for what you’re looking for, and then sideload it onto your phone via Dropbox or USB.”

Luckily, this is not something we run into on iOS. Cydia popped up in February of 2008, roughly 6 months after the first iOS jailbreak surfaced. And, as mentioned above, it’s been the go-to app store for underground apps and tweaks ever since.

You see, the “freedom” that Google touts of its mobile OS is also the platform’s achilles heel. With over 4,000 different Android devices in the wild, running a number of different OS versions, it’s no wonder the rooting community can’t keep up.

What does this all mean? It means that despite how “open” Android may be, I can buy an iOS device, and within 5 minutes be able to do more with it than I ever could with an Android one. And you have to admit, that’s kind of ironic.

Thoughts?

  • abujafer

    I think Google is realizing this and attempting to converge all the different tweaks from manufacturers into one, identical OS for each “base” hardware configuration. Just look at the difference between Gingerbread-manufacturer mods and ICS-manufacturer mods. Eventually rooting will be much easier to “port” between the different types. Not to mention, manufacturers like Samsung are well-known for their easy-rooting; they’re the equivalent of Apple here, with a major update a year that’s easy to keep track of.

    But for now, you’re completely correct. Plug it in, click one button, and wait ten minutes. You’ve just opened your phone up to a plethora of tweaks and mods.

  • Zorvage

    iOS is better on 90% of her fronts then Andriod..

    • Emre SÜMENGEN

      It is just a point of view… Let’s not turn this into a flame war.

      Android is good for the ones who are happy with it, most of the time. iOS is good for it’s users, most of the time. Each (and every) platform has it’s advantages and disadvantages…

      • Zorvage

        Give me a disadvantage on iOS that Andriod does not have.

      • Siri, friendly ui, easy to get around settings, hefty of useful tweaks on cydia, proper themeing, almost none bugs/glitches, no stuttery animations, no laggy ui.. IDK there’s plenty of things that made me go back to iOS (Had 3GS, moved to HTC EVO 3D, after a month moved to 4S)

      • maurid

        Talking about stock iOS/Android: Apple imprisonment, no possibility to navigate through OS directories, stuck with using iTunes, too basic (user-wise, of course it’s not easy to build), no widgets (though that’s not as relevant), lack of customization.

      • maurid

        @Acolz Disadvantages, bro, DISadvantages.

      • @maurid – sorry I misread that.
        But on the side of iTunes – I love it, everything together, in lists easy to manage. Well that’s my opinion

      • *Android.

        No undervolting,
        No over/underclocking,
        No way to make your device look any different from the dead static grid of icons and portrait wallpaper,
        No way to install an app on my phone thru my PC’s internet browser (play.google.com),
        No custom ROMs,
        No tablet mode (i.e. dpi switching),
        No way to quickly switch power toggles such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc out-of-the-box,
        No Bluetooth transfer capability,
        No AirDroid (web.AirDroid.com),
        No choice over default web browser, SMS app, etc
        No decent YouTube app,
        No all-in-one app(s) which have mobile security, firewall, call blacklist / white list – Android has avast!
        No detection of OS capability of apps at Play Store before you hit “install”
        No OTG support
        App updates come rarely and late

        Stop shitting me. Need more?

    • Emre SÜMENGEN

      To add, I would NEVER buy an iOS device, if there was no JAILBREAK for it. Never did, never will…

      Likely, I would not buy an unrootable/locked Android device either…

      None is perfect.

      • I bought an IPhone before I knew What jailbreak was… And even if I still did not know, I would prefer an IPhone over Android, cause the prices in Sweden for some android devices are relatively close to an IPhone and that’s in my opinion, ridiculous :/

      • michael vhan patrick

        i prefer an ipod touch over android phones or iphone itself cuz …in my country is 10 times cheaper than iphone or android phones ,also data plans are slow and expensive ( in my country )

  • IRONIC

  • skychet

    umm easier to jailbreak? yes. easier to customize? not even close. you need to jailbreak an iphone to get not even half of the features on an unrooted android phone. widgets? where are they on a stock iphone besides some notifications? widgets have been part of stock android features for quite a few years, yet dashboard X released only a few weeks ago can’t even touch the capabilities of stock android widgets. live wallpapers? stock on android for years. customizing notification bars? stock on android for years. the list goes on. cydia is a nice centralized location for jailbreak tweaks, but google’s app market includes apps already for rooted users. sorry i don’t want to come off as an android fanboy (i have and iphone 4s and absolutely love it), but customization and ease of doing it on an android is what i miss most about having my old phone. think about it…

    • Ummm… You can get every single feature Android has! You can even RUN Android on an iPhone if you jailbreak! But Android can’t run iOS can it?

      • Kok Hean

        Apparently, Android’s better because those features are in stock Android.

      • Will Carnall

        of cause you can run android, its open source. My question is whats your point?? so what if you can run android on an ios device, i can run osx on my pc(which isn’t hard) doesnt mean linux, unix or windows is better. No you cant run ios on a android based device because apple havent made their os open source meaning no developers (other than at apple) have access to the source code to be able to make custom bootloaders, drivers or kernels. oh and you can do all things android can? what about custom cpu clocks? Custom kernels? run various linux distros along side android (not emulated) at the click of a button? No, so stop licking apples arse and open your eyes, Apple aren’t allways best.

      • mooseolly

        you don’t really see it do you sheepie, Android is so much more advance in that it can run on practically ANY hardwares, even the iphone as you mentioned. In order for ios to run on a magnitude of hardwares is like daydreaming. Imagine if IOS become open-sources from today, do you really think it can run efficiently on these magnitude of hardwares? This is the beauty of Android which people like you failed to understand.

    • skychet, stop wasting your time on the isheeps…they are lost in the cavemen world.

  • Emre SÜMENGEN

    It is ironic, indeed. But there’s a catch (as always): The specific IOS version MUST be jailbreakable… Remember the time passed for the 5.1 JB for A5 devices to be released?

    As a long-time iOS user (around 4 years?), what I would most hope from Apple to do, would be releasing restrictions on Jailbreaking… They can do whatever they could to go over piracy, but jailbreaking and installing tweaks/mods/themes etc. SHOULD be my right, as the rightful owner of this device. And, unfortunately, with each new version, it looks like Apple is trying to pull the leash harder and harder…

    But still, (@abujafer), rooting and removing the bootloader lock in Android will be harder with respect to Apple. The diversity of devices, manufacturers and software will always make the underground scene to concentrate, making it more difficult. Of course, unless Google decides to forbid any kind of “locking” on their software, and any device that runs it. But, as we all know, that’s unlikely, as Google really doesn’t have any power over who uses the software, as it is open-source in the core.

    So, again, Apple should try to review their understanding of security. I’m not talking about pirating apps off the AppStore, but there SHOULD be alternatives (for geeks like me, that are always on the look for “others”).

    • abujafer

      Yes, but that’s only if the manufacturer locks the bootloader. Unlike Apple iOS, each manufacturer chooses whether or not they want to lock their device. With Apple, they lock it each time; in other words, with Apple you just hope for the best and then you get a locked device. With Android, you can go around and choose HTC/Motorola if that’s what you want, but if you really want an unlocked device just get a Samsung.

      And don’t forget, Google’s Nexus line is there specifically to offer a pure, vanilla experience that can be added upon anyway users want. So the choice is always there, it just doesn’t sell as much as Google would like it to (which just begs the question, how many Android users buy Android because it’s open vs. how many buy it because it’s offered on cheap phones?).

  • Jimmy Chen

    99% of the things I see people jailbreaking for I can do on Android without rooting. Not to mention the majority of jailbreak tweaks are relatively low quality or slow down the device immensely.

    “Once you’ve narrowed down the tweaks that your device can actually use, you’ll have to root through forums like XDA Developers or RootzWiki for what you’re looking for, and then sideload it onto your phone via Dropbox or USB.”

    This is literally going to the device specific forum on XDA (which are even named), downloading and copy/pasting. So in other words:

    “Visit the website. Download. Copy and paste”

    Of course that’s minus the searching, which you would have to do if you were using Cydia anyways. The whole process takes around 45 seconds. Any number of steps you can easily over-complicate and make it sound intimidating.

    So basically this is a blogger trying to get page views by exaggeration. Nothing new here.

    Disclaimer: I own an Android phone, a Blackberry, an iPod touch 4G, used to own an iPhone 4 and have loved all of them for different reasons.

    • Kok Hean

      “99% of the things I see people jailbreaking for I can do on Android without rooting.”

      Because Android is “open source” and you can literally install anything you want on it.

      • maurid

        AND that’s a huge pro right there.

        Now, the kinds of things you put in it (think malware, viruses) depends on how smart/idiot you are.

      • michael vhan patrick

        for that reason android users need an antivirus…..

      • maurid

        Yeah but I’d rather have the choice to be “free” and at the same time be careful with what I download, than be “cut my wings off” by Apple and not be allowed to modify stuff AT ALL.

      • So what ?!! The eco-system is crap in Android, the graphics is crap in Android, I prefer an iPhone 4S with Jailbreak to an android device with or without root that’s for sure! Too many problems , Crashing is a normal event in android…and battery life is a disgrace in most cases, and don’t forget that normally gets hot for no reason…do you want to me carry on?? I’ve got hundreds of other reasons to prefer iPhone to android. I had 5 of the best android devices during these years and I loved them but iPhone is on another level. Now I have an Htc Sensation Xe wich is good…but.still an android anyway. Lets see what’s the new iPhone 5 will bring to the table. I’m sure is going to be amazing and better than the Galaxy SIII.

      • wished you good luck, and enjoy your phone….really no one is convincing you to get an android phone if you don’t like it.

        You are just added to the isheep folks.

      • Sashundera Prime

        Stfu pathetic fanboy, go suck a d*ck

      • Exactly and unlike iOS, Android being an open source, you get a lot of viruses

      • Ummm, wrong.

      • Will Carnall

        if your a moron you do. i run no anti virus on my phone and never had a problem. as long as you check permissions before installing. Jokes on you really because Malware was even found on the apple app store, its everywhere there is no real way of getting away from it. with that said i have ran windows with no anti virus and just a firewall and was fine, haha just dont go and run Image.EXE etc.

      • Will stop it, Iphone was made for cavemen….

    • michael vhan patrick

      ipod touch 4g for teh win , no expensive data plans no pesky telephone companies , no eternal payments every month ( in mexico iphone is super very expensive phone and android phones are expensive too )

  • iDevices don’t have custom kernels and roms.
    Android is very open and easy to custimize but mods are made for different android phones.

  • HGamesTeamCato

    Get a Google Nexus if you want an hackable Android device. I dare to say it’s almost as easy as hacking an iPhone, because you just install a program(google it for the name), and let it do all the work for you.

  • HGamesTeamCato

    I Love both, so I’m going to give an unbiased opinion. The Nexus devices are just as hackable as the iPhone. The only problem is when you get into most other Android Devices, because of Android fragmentation and Carrier Restrictions/Bloatware.

    • maurid

      Oh, Google Nexus devices are godsend in my opinion 🙂

  • HGamesTeamCato

    That makes it very difficult to hack, and makes the iPhone very easy in comparison(AbsInThe Jailbreak is so easy to use).

  • juanmacko

    what tweak is that used for the blurring of notifications anyone?

    • pparker313

      I believe the one above is BlurriedNCBackground…..the other beta tweak is FastBlurredNotificationCenter

    • or you can change it in Springtomize> notification center>custom background> blurried
      p/s: less tweak, save memory on iphone =)

  • Can’t really say I agree.

    I used to own the HTC Legend, now graciously given to my mother, and it was quite a breeze to root. And most forums have seperate sections for each phone, so you can always find what you’re looking for. The only thing the root scene is missing is Cydia.

    Now iPhones, on the other hand, can take quite a while, and a lot of effort, to jailbreak. And you often find yourself waiting a long, long while for a jailbreak for this or that firmware version to get the jailbreak treatment, which is almost never the case for Android devices.

    Well, what I’m trying to say, I guess, is that all it takes, be it root or jailbreak, is to seek out all information about the subject, and learn all there is to it. Simple as that.

    Then you make your own guide, with pretty pictures and highlighting, and e-mail to all your family and friends, who are too lazy or stupid to read up on the subject themselves. I have a folder on my desktop that’s full of guides for them…

  • the thing is Android needs some kind of cydia store, so people can get mods and other goodies easier..
    If Cydia wouldn’t exist on ios nobody would hassle to find them tweaks online!

  • Until iOS can replace SpringBoard from something on the Appstore like Android can replace its launcher from one on the market I call bullshit all over this article.

    • maurid

      Lololol funny but true. SpringBoard is to fancy of a name for the basic piece of crap it really is.

  • O.O What is that sbsettings theme?

    • Robert Goldberg

      I’m guessing you are asking about the NC rather than SBSettings, the latter being a single row at the top and not that great IMO. If I did guess right, it’s called BlurriedNCBackground, or you can get a similar effect via Sprintomize 2.

  • victorpreti

    What are this sbsettings theme ??? thank you

  • maurid

    Bottomline, iOS devices, without the HUGE help the jailbreak community provides, are nothing but fancy, trendy, good looking, overrated and extremely overpriced, yet regular technological devices. NOTHING OUT OF THIS WORLD, NOTHING NEW.

    What IS out of this world is the sense of fanatism it can create on certain people (not all).

  • Android more easier to used than ios,

    • Outhig

      Nope.

    • Robert Goldberg

      iOS does help you with spelling and grammar, so that’s a +.

  • UberDoll

    If you are actually talking about hacking a device and not talking about using somebody’s preset method, then you will find that android is by far easier to by bass the bootloader than iOS. 

    Even after jail breaking iOS devices you are still limited to iOS. No matter how many tweaks you use, you can not shake the feeling that iOS is limited. Android devices are superior when it comes to the tweaks that are available for it. You might have to modify code or write mods yourself, but that is part of the game of real hacking. People think they are hackers because they can run somebody else’s program. They don’t even know what it does or how it works, just that it gets them a result. That life hacker article only refers to the second handers of hacking and shows no insight to the real hacking community. 

    With articles like these from lifehacker it makes me sick that they preach use everybody else’s resources instead of building your own. You’re not a hacker if you didn’t actually hack and you can’t compare what is easier if you did none of the work. 

    I am an iPhone enthusiast for the phone, because the phone aspect works better. The hacking side is blah and limited. I like android because of the possibilities that it can amount to and how practical you can make it. Even if iPhone has an easier method, android is far more worth the tinkering

  • No

  • Since we are talking about how great the iPhone is when hacked. Let’s also talk about something else that was left out. Without a doubt, the iPhone will easily crash more with Jailbreak apps and tweaks. How many? It varies. But every single time I jailbroke my iPhone. Every single one of them, would crash with just a handful of JB apps. The iPhone 4S is handling it better to me. But it still has crashed on me. I been uninstalling some things and hope that takes care of that. To keep this short, yes the iPhone can do all those things listed above. But without doubt the iPhone is more unstable with JB apps and tweaks. My latest iPhone is handling about 8-9 JB apps and about 4 tweaks.

  • Well, that you can do more is wrong. And iOS Users also have to wait longer until such hacks are available for the current version. And then the next updates come, and you can’t do them because it might break the jailbreak.

    On the other hand, on Android it’s even supported by some manufacturer. Companies like Asus released tools that it’s impossible to brick a device and you can always get it back to original state to not risk your warranty. What does Apple say when your jailbroken device gets broken and you bring it back to them?

    Also when you look at tools like the Galaxy Nexus Toolkit it’s very easy. You get one package to install on your computer and just run it. It gives you a big list of options you can do..from rooting to installing new roms and so much more…everything with just one or two clicks.

    But we also shouldn’t forget that you need to hack an iOS Device for things you can already do with a stock Android device.

    Yes, I’m an Android fan and love it, but also respect iOS. It’s good that there is competition and I hope WP or Blackberry will have a comeback as third big player as well. I just wish that Apple would allow more with a stock iOS device. It started like as a very simple device which wasn’t bad, but after so many generations the user grew with it and are ready for more flexibility and user control.

  • maurid

    Hell, Google even shows you a nice little screen asking “Are you sure you want to install a Custom ROM?” or something like that. Those Apple jerks won’t even let you downgrade to their own older stock firmware.

    If only a word could describe Apple engineers, it would be: JERKS.

  • How can I update through itunes to ios 5.1.1 from custom iPSW 5.1 in my iphone 4s?
    I had my phone restored by someone who used a custom ipsw to update my phone to ios 5.1. I want my phone back to the stock firmware ios 5.1.1. I don’t want the custom ipsw anymore because I can’t update through my phone’s software update. My phone is not jailbroken however it is with custom ipsw 5.1 How can I do this? Please help! Thanks!

  • Robert Goldberg

    That’s exactly why I love Apple products, besides their build quality. Because of how universal they are and the way they are connected between each other. No wonder it’s called “FAMILY of devices”. And with the new iOS 6 and Mountain Lion OS it’ll get even more centralized and easy to do your work and pick it up anytime and from anywhere you go! Love it!

  • Hi, What is the SBSettings theme used here and what is the MusicBanners like tweak used?

  • shheryl

    Rooting is more complicated, but for some reason, I was less afraid to root than I am to jailbreak. Some devs don’t support jb devices, and some articles I’d read just made it seem unstable.

    I’m using android and ios at the moment and realized I can do more tweaking with the look on android out of the box. Like, I’m root-free but I’ve replaced my stock dialer, lock screen, icons, sms app, default browser. Not possible on iOS without jailbreaking.

    Disclaimer: I have a love/hate relationship with both android and iOS and I have 0 intentions of arguing/debating in favor of either platform

  • Sashundera Prime

    HAHAHAHAHAH, you fanboys are pathetic! Stfu and gtfo iFags, nothing gets even close to Android in customization. I can make it look like iOS and you wont even tell the diffrence between the two, please. This funny iOS jailbreak tweaks are just catchups to Android, and still worse.

  • Joy

    You can, by default, customize most of the things on a non-rooted Android device (such as home screen customizations, Apps from ‘unknown sources’ etc) that you need to jailbreak an iOS device to do. And Rooting your phone doesn’t slow up your system as jailbreaking does (I have an iPod iTouch 3 and an iPhone 4, and Cydia does slow stuff down sometimes).

    Neither are easy to hack or customize if you don’t read everything (especially the fine print and the warnings) very carefully.

  • getout

    You do not know anything about android hacking or tweaking it seems, and how is ios much better that android, just that the jailbreak vs root is really compareable doesnt mean that andoid is less tweakable…
    can you OC you cpu and gpu in iOS, can you make diffrent partitions onto the memory, can you install higher software versions on an old iOS device, as on andoid you can.
    Theres a shit ton of things i can bring up to prove the point that iOS and Android shouldnt be compared…
    Now why is rooting so hard on android and jailbreak easy on iOS – iOS IS ONLY USED BY APPLE, WHILE ANDOID IS WIDELY USED BY MANY VENDORS LIKE LG, Samsung, Sony, and many more, MANY.
    Also these diffrent vendors use diffrent chipsets, hardware, drivers, while iOS always remains the same, just upgraded a bit hardware. Which brings it to this point-DO NOT COMPARE ANDROID OR iOS, just stupid. Both devices will in the end be equal, none will win.

  • Al

    The easier it is to hack, the less secure your phone is. So if you have a phone that is easy to jailbreak or something then be careful due to hackers can easily get into your phone and steal your personal information. I’m currently using a Nokia 1020 which runs on Windows phone, good thing about windows phone is that it’s very secure, you can’t jailbreak it to illegally install apps.
    It’s like installing a virus to make your laptop look good?
    This reminds me of the game ‘Watch dogs’

    • (JailbreakQA) King Shoot

      Jailbreaking uses 6 small holes in the security and keeps the standard security that stock iOS has.

      Jailbreaking is against illegal installing of apps.

  • haha666413

    auto root app on pc and android
    iphone is not the most customization its xioami
    over millions of tweakapps xiaomi delivers onboard tweaking with out root why becaus they are already rooted
    also more the 500 models are rooted out of the box so its easier for android users the iphone users