iOS 10 jailbreak: the ongoing wait

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iOS 10 was released to the general public in the middle of September, and while months have passed, no jailbreak has yet surfaced for Apple’s latest mobile operating system.

Whether or not a jailbreak is coming continues to rattle the minds of hobbyists and tweak developers alike, but with all the rumors buzzing around and all these software updates seemingly launching left and right, will another jailbreak actually see the light?

Jailbreaking in history

Ever since the jailbreaking scene was outsourced to teams like Pangu and TaiG, jailbreaks have been far more secretive and launch dates haven’t really been set in stone. The last time I remember hearing an ETA for a jailbreak release was back when the evad3rs were still jailbreaking iOS.

Pangu and TaiG each seem to like surprising the jailbreak community, as they appear to launch jailbreaks on completely random dates based on when they feel the best time to release a jailbreak is.

With no rhyme or reason to their methods, at least from our point of view, it’s hard to put a pin on the calendar for when a jailbreak should be expected, but so far they haven’t let the community down, which means they’ve got a lot going for them.

Jailbreaking now

Without a doubt, the jailbreak community is shrinking. The body of people who jailbreak today is significantly smaller than it was years ago, and that would be because Apple is finally bringing a lot of features over to iOS that should have been there from the start.

Although no feature Apple brings to the table will ever truly make your device as free and modifiable as jailbreaking will, a larger number of average users have been convinced that they don’t need to jailbreak anymore.

With fewer users, the jailbreak is becoming less profitable, and many talented hackers are more attracted to profitable bounties on their valuable exploits rather than working on building a jailbreak. This doesn’t stop a few inspirational teams from coming through time and time again, however.

The last jailbreak launch was for iOS 9.3.3 and was released thanks to Pangu, but within a couple of weeks Apple launched iOS 9.3.4 to patch the exploits; this dealt a checkmate to the long sought after jailbreak.

Today, Apple continues to launch frequent software updates that patch security vulnerabilities and exploits, some expected, and some unexpected. These rapid software update releases are making it harder for jailbreak teams like Pangu or TaiG to come up with a jailbreak that encompasses all of Apple’s latest firmware releases, which is the ideal goal of any jailbreak team to ensure as many people can benefit from the release as possible.

Pangu could hypothetically have a jailbreak for iOS 10 right now, however releasing it now would be futile as Apple may have patched it in iOS 10.1 or could already be in the middle of breaking it in the upcoming iOS 10.2 release.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell until iOS 10.2 goes public, and by then, many people will have already updated to iOS 10.2, so releasing an iOS 10-10.1 jailbreak would be seemingly pointless to Pangu.

Is a jailbreak still feasible?

Without a doubt, iOS 10 can be jailbroken. A number of hackers, with the most notable being Luca Todesco, have demonstrated the feasibility of jailbreaking iOS 10 despite Apple’s KPP (kernel patch protection) software that was supposed to put an end to jailbreaking.

Since we know it’s possible to get around Apple’s KPP security, it’s hardly doubtful that a jailbreak could be released in the future for iOS 10, but picking the right time to launch is a very important part of the whole process.

Pangu did once express their interest in jailbreaking iOS 10, but because they operate behind closed doors, there are no real-time status updates about the progress of a current jailbreak nor is there any word of when or if they are planning to launch one.

Users are also putting a lot of pressure on jailbreak teams because they’re not very big fans of the semi-untethered jailbreak. Users want an untethered jailbreak so there’s no headache in rebooting their devices, but software constraints and exploit limitations have tied many hands.

The wait affects everybody

Not only are the jailbreak teams feeling the hurt by Apple’s swift way of keeping the jailbreak down, but so are the Cydia repositories, jailbreak developers, and the jailbreak hobbyists.

The Cydia repositories are important to mention because they’re the driving force behind the Cydia store. Although a jailbreak is so much more than just installing jailbreak tweaks, it goes without saying they’re are one of the main sources of enjoyment out of it.

Since a jailbreak hasn’t been released for quite a while, Cydia repositories are hurting. They’re not getting a whole lot of traffic and the amount of ad-driven revenue for them is going down.

Jailbreak developers are another of the important driving forces affected by the lack of a recent jailbreak. Since a lot of higher profile developers have already left the community to move on to bigger and better things where they can earn more of a profit, Cydia has largely become a place for beginner developers to start their programming portfolio.

As you can imagine, this means a decline in releases of higher-quality jailbreak tweaks, like those of IntelliScreenX, MyWi, etc. All of these were premium tweaks at the time, but Apple has pretty much phased them out with features of their own, and without those higher-profile developers in the scene anymore, highly-original jailbreak tweak ideas are just super hard to come by these days.

Even beginner developers who are taking interest in learning development or utilizing the jailbreak as a means of making hobby income are feeling the burn because jailbreak tweak piracy is just so insanely high that it takes the motivation right out of the developers to do any work for the jailbreak community at all.

Overall, the troubles involving the developers and repositories cause a domino effect for the most important group of them all: the jailbreak hobbyists themselves. These are the people who jailbreak just for fun and like modding out their iOS devices.

Without a jailbreak, hobbyists are losing faith in the community and leaving it behind. There are still a number of loyal jailbreakers using iOS 9, and even some on iOS 8 or iOS 7, but most appear to be more interested in getting with the times and using iOS 10 on Apple’s latest iOS devices.

This decline in users is sucking dry the motivation of experienced developers to continue developing for the jailbreak community, despite the very small few who are still hanging on and updating their older projects.

But despite all declines, I don’t think it’s the end of the jailbreak community, just yet. Even if we don’t see a new release any time in the near future, those who are still jailbroken right now will probably keep what they have for the sake of enjoyment and will continue to do great things with it.

Will we see a jailbreak again?

It’s hard for me to deal an absolute answer to this question because I could so easily be right or I could so easily be wrong based on the pivotal facts I have to work with, but I think we will probably see some sort of jailbreak again in the future.

Following the advice of iOS hacker Todesco, you can increase your odds of having a jailbreak in the future by staying on iOS 10.1.1, rather than updating to iOS 10.2.

Although it seems bleak for the jailbreak community and it might not be around forever, there still seems to be a strong base of interest from true hobbyists who like modding their devices with themes and other cool stuff.

In addition, jailbreak teams aren’t solely interested in providing Cydia to jailbreakers. There’s a whole ring of jailbreak users in China that use the jailbreak for other purposes that we don’t want any hand in, and that’s piracy.

The PP alternative app store you’ve seen bundled in with so many of these jailbreaks in the past is used for this, and because there’s demand for this kind of service in certain parts of the world, supply and demand rules it will be made.

It’s sad to think that one of the things keeping the jailbreak going is something as dark as piracy, but fortunately there’s always a way to opt out of having the PP alternative app store installed on your device when you do jailbreak with any of these tools, as we always advise you do.

What’s your take on this? Share in the comments below!