Google’s Android definitely has the advantage here, however the reason I’ve stuck with Apple, apart from the fact that having owned an iPhone since the launch day of the 3GS, I now own quite a few apps that I can’t transfer, is that they’re simple.
I just need a phone that’s well-made, easy to use and streamlined and the iPhone has always offered this. I admit though, that iTunes still infuriates me, as do many of the restrictions compared to an Android device.
However, something that improved my iOS experience no end was when I jailbroke my iPhone. For those not in the know, this essentially means hacking the operating system and installing a program called Cydia, which is essentially a gateway to a kind of underground iTunes filled with customized apps and features.
For me, there’s perhaps a single huge feature in iOS 7 that despite its introduction, is still inferior to similar add-ons you can get in the Jailbreaking world. Apple’s new Control Center, which allows you to quickly access settings such as WiFi and brightness, is step in the right direction. For me it’s an important tool in the fight to conserve battery life and helps in general to make your iPhone experience that much slicker. Fancy animations and the like are all very well, but it’s the controls like these that you use every day that make the real difference.
You only have to look online to see just how many people love the new feature but feel it’s crippled because of its lack of customization. You can’t toggle 3G on or off and settings such as personal hotspot and even location services are absent and there’s no way to add them. However, if you jailbreak your iPhone you can get all this and more.
NC Settings, Five Icon Dock and Five-column SpringBoard are just some of most popular iPhone Jailbreak tweaks
An add-on called NC Settings allows you to drop a sweepable bar directly onto your phone’s home screen, providing instant access to customizable toggles. As you can see, I have WiFi, brightness, torch, data and location services on the first row, and a quick swipe to the left shows restart, Bluetooth, volume, personal hotspot and power options. Alternatively you can add the bar to the notification area or have it appear in the same way Apple’s Control Center does with a swipe.
The number of other tweaks Jailbreaking opens up are vast and you’ll find you can replicate and even surpass most of the new features in iOS 7 too. There’s the ability to create custom commands using an array of pinch and swipe gestures, apply snazzy effects to page swipes and as you can also see with my iPhone 5, I have five columns of icons instead of four (I’ve deleted one to make way for an on-screen NC settings button bar) and also to have five icons in the icon dock at the bottom instead of four. So despite getting rid of an entire row of icons I’ve actually got more on the home screen than a non-jailbroken iPhone 5.
So is customization what’s missing from iOS 7? In some ways yes but Apple’s never been and probably never will be keen on you tweaking the OS as much as many of us would like. As good as iOS 7 is, I do feel that many features such as Control Center could offer the huge benefit of customization without – shock horror – Apple losing its tight grip on the look and feel of the OS. If you’d like to give Jailbreaking a go, you’ll need an iPad or iPhone running iOS 6.1.0-6.1.2. If you’ve already upgraded to iOS 7 then there’s likely no way to downgrade, but we live in hope that a Jailbreak for the new OS will appear soon.