13 iPhone Features Apple Stole From Jailbreak Developers

iphone jailbreak

Photo: htaule93 via Flickr

In the timeless made-for-TV classic Pirates of Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, as portrayed by Noah Wyle, says, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”Jailbreak developers have consistently been a step or two ahead of Apple. This rogue community teaches its iDevices new tricks that aren’t even close to being officially supported, and people love them for it.

Something interesting started happening, though. With each new release of iOS, Apple started building in many of the more popular jailbreak features, making them native to the device.

What follows is a list of features that were first built into iPhones by small teams working independently of Apple, only to see the company end up legitmising those features down the road.

Improved notifications

iOS 5's new notifications take serious cues from the popular jailbreak notification app MobileNotifier. Peter Hajas, MobileNotifier's developer, was actually hired by Apple.

Wireless syncing

This long-awaited feature finally cuts the cord to your computer. However, users of Greg Hughes's Wi-Fi Sync jailbreak app have had this capability for a long time.

Lock screen widgets are overdue

SmartScreen implemented widgets on the lock screen as a jailbreak app. iOS 5 only has weather and stock widgets at the moment, but this is another feature jailbreakers beat Apple to.


Let's skip the argument on what 'multitasking' actually means for the time being. Apple's current implementation of multitasking was readily available to jailbreakers in 2010.

Custom wallpaper

Custom wallpaper became officially available in iOS 4. Jailbreakers have been able to do it since shortly after the first iPhone was released.

Video out

The Videos app supported it, but true video out (mirroring) didn't become official until iOS 4.3. For jailbreakers using TVOut2Mirror, this is old hat.

Volume button shutter release

Taking horizontally oriented pictures will be much easier now that you can use the volume button as a shutter release in iOS 5, but we've seen this before with SnapTap.

WiFi hotspots

One of the big breakthroughs for jailbreakers, hotspots only became officially supported in iOS with version 4 and an additional monthy fee.


It officially came to iOS in version 4 after being a jailbreak option for a long time.

Bluetooth keyboard support

Lots of users were glad to be able to use their Bluetooth keyboards to type on their iDevices with iOS 4. Jailbreakers were doing it first with BTstack Keyboard.

rumours of Facetime over 3G

We've long expected this, and it turns out that there are hints of FaceTime over 3G buried in the iOS 5 source code. Apple hasn't officially announced anything yet, but this is an old capability for the jailbreak community.

Copy and paste

Yet another feature that jailbreakers beat Apple to. It's become so elementary now that we barely think about it when we use it.

Apps themselves

Before the App Store even existed, jailbreakers were running their own apps on the iPhone. It wasn't until Apple launched the App Store that there was a means to effectively browse, download, and buy apps.

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