Over the years since the iOS mobile operating system was first released by Apple, there is one word that has been a particular bugbear for the corporation…jailbreaking. Jailbreaking is the process of removing hardware restrictions on iOS in order to enable users to achieve certain customizations which Apple is not enamored by. As much as Apple has attempted to prevent jailbreaking, hackers and technology experts have always been one step ahead of the corporation, and it has thus been possible to jailbreak every version of iOS thus far.
Rootless addresses iOS 9 jailbreaking
Apple therefore intended from day one of the iOS 9 release that it would clamp down on this unwelcome activity. Apple has frequently attempted to prevent jailbreakers via the court system, but this has proved to be extremely unsuccessful for the corporation. So the world’s first $700 billion market capped company has instead introduced a new security measure which it hopes will eliminate the threat of jailbreaking in this generation of the iPhone operating system.
The program in question is known as Rootless, a new software element of iOS 9 which is intended to prevent software pirates from jailbreaking any Apple device. This software is based around kernel-level security, and is intended to deter users from reaching critical system files. Rootless has been reported it to be so stringent that it is impossible to reach the critical system files in iOS 9 even with admin-level access.
However, there is one certainty with such security systems…hackers will attempt to circumnavigate them. And news breaking in the last couple of days indicates that the iOS jailbreaking scene is about to acquire a new and powerful player.
Keen Team to jailbreak iOS 9
The Chinese hacking crew Keen Team, aka K33n, has recently confirmed that they will be working on its first ever jailbreak in the next few weeks, and that this will begin with the iOS 9 system. The prodigiously talented coders have already won awards to the tune of $40,000 at the Mobile Pwn2Own competition, and the fact that the group is attempting to take down the Apple operating system is not exactly good news for the consumer electronics giant.
If this weren’t bad enough in itself for Apple’s attempts to prevent the jailbreaking of iOS 9, then reports that this Chinese crew will be assisted by another rogue band of hackers will make things even more difficult for the operating system. PanGu already showcased its iOS 8.3 jailbreak at the Mobile Security Conference in 2014, and the collective has announced that it will form a collaboration with K33n.
However, with plenty of time to go until iOS 9 is officially rolled out, Apple has the opportunity to rework the internal coding quite considerably before this release. So the coders in question will be focusing on iOS 8.4 next, which will introduce the new Music app and Apple music streaming subscription service. Despite the best efforts of Apple, the overwhelming likelihood is that the iOS 9 defenses will be cracked in the foreseeable future, and a functional jailbreak will be released for average iPhone users.
Once jailbreaks have been released, Apple then has the opportunity to patch the system in order to ensure that these software exploits no longer operate. There is a huge debate in the technology community regarding whether it is unethical to jailbreak a smartphone, or whether Apple exerts too much influence over its own operating system and should open it up more to people’s personal customization desires.
Although jailbreaking can enable people to engage in conduct with the iPhone which would otherwise be impossible, it is also important to emphasize that it can have a negative influence over devices. There have been compatibility issues related to jailbroken iPhones, and some have even been completely bricked.
iOS 9 to feature Ad block function
In other news related to iOS 9, rumors have emerged this week that Apple is dealing with another coding-based aspect of the mobile operating system. It has been reported that hidden deep in the developer documents for iOS 9 is a suggestion that Apple will include support for unblocking and privacy apps in iOS 9. Apparently the software includes a new API which removes appointments from web views, and this can be used to initiate the software to completely block advertisements.
Many desktop computer users will be familiar with Adblock, which has slowly but surely established itself as the most popular Google Chrome extension in the world. Adblock doesn’t remove all advertising on the Internet, but instead focuses on rogue advertisements which shouldn’t appear in a particular webpage. However, it does tend to block out all commercials in videos, and thus some websites are already preventing PC and Mac users from utilizing the Adblock software while accessing their services.
According to technology experts who have examined the new iOS 9 operating system, the new content blocking feature enables developers to pass a JSON file with a set of rules for images, popups, cookies, resources and other elements. This will then enable users to effectively block advertisements in the Safari browser.
The content blocker is already live in iOS 9 beta versions of the software, and will certainly be a welcome feature among many Apple fans. The inclusion of this particular function does raise questions about some of the economic models related to the iPhone, but Apple must have some form of motivation for including this in the makeup of IOS 9. The most likely explanation is simply that Apple considers it something that will appeal to iPhone users.
As the full release of iOS 9 nears, a huge amount of work is still to be done on the system, both by Apple internally and external hackers and other enthusiasts. Clearly this will be an operating system worth waiting for, and one that may not remain unadulterated by jailbreaking for long.