UPDATE 21 JAN 2012: OFFICIAL IPHONE 4S AND IPAD 2 JAILBREAK NOW AVAILABLE, CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.
According to the iPhone Dev Team, which incorporated 'pod2g's' work in creating the first widely and freely available untethered jailbreak for devices powered by iOS 5.0.1 devices using Apple's A4 processor, the new jailbreak works with the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, the iPhone4 variant with CDMA, the original iPad 1, the iPod touch 3G and the iPod touch 4G.
Unfortunately for those with iPhone 4S and iPad 2 models, these are powered by Apple's more powerful A5 processor, and although 'pod2g' has reported being able to jailbreak A5-powered devices, the jailbreaks are unstable and still not ready for prime time, or they'd have been made available already.
Jailbreaking allows end-users to bypass Apple's security restrictions and gain full access to the underlying operating system, with the freedom to run third-party software unapproved by Apple and do things with their iPhones that Apple does not normally allow, right down to cool stuff like using F.lux's nifty screen colour modification app on your iPhone or iPad too, and not just on your PC or Mac, or using Siri on your iPhone 4 even though Apple doesn't allow it yet, and may never.
That said, we hope that when Siri leaves beta, iPhone 4 and iPad 1 and 2 owners at least are officially invited to the party by Apple, if not iPhone 3GS users as well, but that's yet to be seen. At least it's a clear expectation for the iPad 3.
Those who choose to jailbreak find they need to learn how to ensure their jailbroken phone is patched with appropriate security updates, that they don't connect to unknown or unverified software repositories, and that they don't immediately update to Apple's latest iOS update when it's made available lest they find their jailbreak undone and a fresh new OS installed before it was wanted.
Unfortunately, jailbroken iPhones and iPads are also able to access pirated software repositories of commercially available apps, and along with depriving hardworking developers of hard-earned compensation for their programming efforts, pirated apps can also be a conduit for malware that wouldn't be allowed on the official App Store.
For those that truly want to do it and know what they're doing, fine - jailbreaking was declared legal in the US not long ago, and if that's what you want to do, exploring and discovering the things and areas Apple doesn't want you to see - it's a free world, go forth on a journey of discovery and have fun!
However, if you rely on your iPhone as a primary personal and/or work device, yet still want to do this, and are yet still at padawan jailbreaker level, get an iPod touch or a second iPhone, even if second hand, and experiment on that first, leaving you to update your primary iDevice with Apple's latest and greatest at some future time, even if you have to wait for some future jailbreak to appear.
Of course, if you're someone that must jailbreak at all costs, the only wait is for a stable, free jailbreak to appear, and whammo - off they've gone, sometimes without even properly reading the instructions!
Some do read the instructions properly, like those found at iClarified for your specific iDevice and don't end up inadvertently undoing an unlock, temporarily bricking their device or something else.
Then there's all those sites that are promising a jailbreak and an unlock for the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2.
Are these scams, or somehow real? Please read on to page two!
As others have already written about late last year online, for those wishing these commercial jailbreak and unlock sites were true to their word, they sadly are not.
If, and more likely, when the jailbreak for the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 arrives, it will be made available free of charge by the iPhone Dev Team, Geohot or someone else, for even if someone does find an unlock and sells it commercially, the Dev Team hackers and others will strive even harder to find out how to achieve the same result until they do.
If you're interesting in jailbreaking your iPhone 4S or iPad 2, know that despite what these commercial sites say, it's just not possible yet. When it finally happens, it will be widely reported on by the world's reputable news sites, not via press release article sites, and you'll be able to do it free of charge.
It'll just take you some time to follow the instructions to the letter to avoid any unnecessary trial and error, and the confidence to see it through. But before that, you have to ask yourself whether it's worth the trouble.
For the original hackers who like to tinker, who want to know how a device works, and how to control it, jailbreaking almost any device they own is a fun challenge.
Android phones can be 'rooted', and a team is working on jailbreaking Windows Phone 7.5, with an earlier jailbreak for Windows Phone 7 having been achieved. There are readers who themselves or have friends who have looked up the instructions online to change their DVD player from a region-locked device to a region-free player.
But for those who just want it to work, without delving too deeply into how it works, jailbreaking isn't recommended, as it adds a layer of complexity and insecurity that naturally isn't recommended by Apple at all.
Whichever way you choose to play the digital game of iLife on your iDevice, thank goodness we still live in a world of choice where jailbreaking is possible and not some crime against the state or the multinational corporation.
It gives you the ultimate freedom to use the technology you buy the way you want - whether it's to manufacturer specifications, or, if you are prepared to spend the time to learn what to do, to run your tech to your design.
It also helps propel existing technologies in new directions as some choose to break boundaries and succeed, such as those who have figured out how to use a proxy to bend Apple's voice activated Siri assistant to do tasks and activate systems Siri hasn't been officially opened up to work with as yet.
For now, despite Apple's restrictions and limitations, some of which do eventually get opened up over time, and despite the recent trend among closed smartphone systems to move towards locking down their app stores, hackers have made it possible to go above, beneath and beyond, and for anyone to follow in their footsteps.
I originally jailbroke the first iPhone with the very first 20-min unlock that was prematurely released the day the unlock was made available, and to my joy at the time, it worked! Finally my iPhone, imported from the US at the time, was more than a widescreen iPod Touch with Wi-Fi, Safari, YouTube etc - it was also a phone and had an EDGE Internet connection!
I've written several articles about jailbreaking in the past at iTWire, with step-by-step instructions that I read in forums helped save people with their own unlocking and jailbreaking challenges at the time, but since the iPhone 4, have simply stuck with Apple's standard installation. I have jailbroken secondary devices from time to time, and yes, it's all there, but I'm personally more than happy enough, at least for now, with the plethora of apps available, and am not running or using any jailbroken devices today.
What you do is up to you, so, whether you just use your phone as Apple intended, or you gyrate towards a jailbreak at some point in the future, play wisely with your digital devices, play playfully, and play fun!