There is no doubt that the iPad is a great device, and it has truly revolutionized the way a lot of people think about and work with computers. It is an amazing universal portable device that can do anything, from editing documents to viewing Web pages and making calls (via Wifi or, if you have the 3G version, via a network provider).
Still, the device is not perfect by any means. It is true that almost anyone can use it, from the youngest kids to the oldest people who have never seen a computer in their life. But the more advanced users still think that they can get more out of it, and they’re right. You see, Apple has intentionally limited the software part of the device in order to prevent people from breaking it, and that’s totally acceptable. But there are a lot of useful things you can do with full access to the iPad’s file system. And it’s very easy to get that access using a process called “Jailbreaking”. You can find a lot of instructions on how to do that online, and below you’ll find a few of the reasons why you should at least try to do it.
You can customize the interface. If you ever wished you could customize the way your home screen looks, well, you should know that you can do much more than that with a jailbroken iPad. There are a lot of apps that give you the possibility to change wallpapers, icons, menu settings, add various notification shortcuts and quick bars, show a lot information on the lock screen, and much more. That is simply not possible on a stock iPad!
You can use SSH/FTP/VNC utilities. Because the iPad’s file system is locked down, you can only access so many levels. You don’t get the “security clearance” to access more low-level functions, one of which happens to be pretty important for a lot of people: secure network connections. With a jailbroken device, you can use SSH, SFTP, FTP and even VNC clients to access remote computers and interact with them.
You can fully back up the device. When you jailbreak your iPad, you get full access to the files system, which means you can also create better backups. There are quite a few apps on the unofficial Cydia marketplace that let you create a full copy of your memory, which you can then use to restore to this exact configuration (even your messages will be there) or even use it to create a copy of the configuration on other iPads.
You can have better multitasking. While iOS 4 finally introduced multitasking, it’s not really that advanced. It only freezes the apps in their current state when you switch to another one, and only some functions can run in the background (like music playback). On a jailbroken device, you can install Backgrounder, a multitasking framework that really gives you the ability to run apps in the background, like you would on your desktop or a Windows Mobile phone, if you ever used one.
You are able to use gestures for anything. Gestures for any function are a nice perk that comes with the Backgrounder framework. Using another app called Activator, which you set to run in the background, you can set up gestures for anything, from opening an app to syncing and changing settings. It’s a much better way of doing things, especially on such a big and responsive touch screen.
Of course, you must always be aware of the risks and be careful when performing the jailbreaking process. If you’re not, you could potentially make your device unusable (“brick” it, as developers say). But if you’re careful, you should have no problems and get a lot more from your iPad than you ever thought was possible.