Just days after the Library of Congress decreed that it is, in fact, legal to "jailbreak" any phone -- including the iPhone, so it'll support third-party apps that aren't available in the official App Store -- hackers announced over the weekend that not only had they found a way to jailbreak the new iPhone 4, they'd also developed a tool that'll do the trick straight from the iPhone browser, no hardware hacks or computer required.
All you have to do is tap "jailbreakme.com" into your iPhone's Web browser (the site will work on the iPhone 4, 3GS and 3G, as well as the iPad and iPod Touch; here's the full list of supported devices). Then swipe the "slide to jailbreak" control to start the process.
Before you get started, though, you need to do a couple of things. First, make sure to sync your iPhone or other iDevice one last time with iTunes, so you've got a recent backup of your files and data in case something goes wrong, according to Yahoo news. Second, consider the risks before you proceed. (More on the risks in a moment.)
Redmond Pie has a nine-step guide to the entire process, which pretty much consists of performing the iTunes backup, updating your iPhone to the latest iOS firmware (4.0.1) and watching the JailbreakMe site do its thing.
Once your phone is successfully jailbroken, you'll have full access to Cydia, an unofficial app store chock-full of unauthorized iPhone applications that Apple doesn't want you to have.
iPhone 3GS and 3G users will also be able to unlock their handsets for use on any GSM carrier, meaning T-Mobile here in the U.S. (Keep in mind, though, that current iPhone models don't support T-Mobile's 3G data network, so you'll be restricted to slower EDGE data access.) Meanwhile, those with the latest iPhone will have to wait a day or so until hackers finish testing an iPhone 4-specific unlocking tool.
OK, so jailbreaking your iPhone is now easier than ever. Should you go ahead and do it, though? Well, even though the Library of Congress has officially declared that jailbreaking and/or unlocking your phone is legal, you're still on your own if you decide to do so.
Naturally, the online JailbreakMe site doesn't come with any guarantees, and Apple has stated that you "can" (although not necessarily "will") void your iPhone warranty if you go ahead and jailbreak it. You also run the risk of wonky performance or even "bricking" your iPhone permanently. That's not to say that you're certain to ruin your iPhone if you jailbreak it, of course, but make no mistake: Using the Jailbreak Me hack represents a calculated risk. User beware.
In any case, if you do decide to go ahead with a jailbreak, don't forget to back up your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch one more time before you pull the trigger.
So, anyone try jailbreaking their iPhones yet with the new JailbreakMe tool? How did it go? Got any tips? Let us know below.