Unlocking your smartphone may be illegal now, but you wouldn’t know it. When the iOS 6 jailbreak “evasi0n” was launched earlier this month, the tech community responded by using it to unlock seven million iPads and iPhones, definitive proof that the internet wasn’t kidding when it managed to wrangle up over 100,000 signatures asking President Barack Obama rescind the law. Evasi0n was always going to be successful, but there’s something unique about this success: it’s doubling as protest.
Let’s go back in time and explain how we got here…
A little while back, Congress (along with representatives and lobbyists from corporations, if you want to go in that direction) declared that unlocking your smartphone was in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and that doing so could result in jail time and fines. There was much outcry all across the internet, from the hackers who always bend the law a little to the people who simply prefer not being tethered to the ecosystem of a particular company to the people who simply thought that the law was absurd. We’ve talked about it here on Tapsauce on multiple occasions and tend to come to conclusions that are usually one shade of grey or another.
Then came the official White House petition and its 100,00 plus signatures, which means that the President and his office have to respond. And then came Evasi0n, which proves that people are always going to jailbreak their phones no matter what the government says (shades of the controversies surround Napster over a decade ago). Despite Apple’s best efforts, 5.15 million iPhones, 1.35 million iPads and 400,000 iPod Touch’s have been unlocked using the iOS 6 jailbreak tool. This is not a small deal.
And Apple hasn’t been lazy opposing jailbreakers, either. Each iOS 6 update has included software changes to combat Evasi0n, but the tool’s developers have always had updates of their own on hand shortly after Apple released its official updates, allowing users to upgrade their operating system while keeping their phones unlocked. Apple has met its match in the “Evad3rs” team, the collective of hackers behind Evasi0n — the recently released iOS 6.1.2 can be completely bested by Evasi0n 1.5.
And that’s not all. Although jailbreaking can do irreparable damage to your device if you don’t do it properly, the community does everything in its power to make the process easy and worthwhile. The latest updates to Evasi0n not only allow users to override Apple, but improve an unlocked phone’s performance. For people who feel burned by the series of debacles that plagued Apple in the past year, the speed and understanding of the people behind jailbreaking softwares must feel refreshing. Sure, it’s a criminal act, but for some, Evad3rs must feel like a mobile Robin Hood.
If Apple wants to defeat these guys, it needs to understand why people want to unlock their phones. Just saying “You can’d do that!” and listing all of the things that can (and frequently do) go wrong isn’t going to stop anyone. People are always going to want to unlock their phones and they’re always going to find ways to do it. The first step to finding a solution is to find a way to meet them on their level. A little empathy goes a long way.
(Do you have a great idea for a mobile app? Rocksauce Studios wants to help you make it!)