Update: iPhone 4 Jailbreak Info!
I recently rediscovered my old post about the Top 10 Essential Cydia Apps and thought it might be time for an update after my most recent jailbreak, as I’ve found some exceptionally cool apps since that time that are definitely worth highlighting. BTW, if you haven’t jailbroken your iPhone yet, and you’re still running OS 3.1.2 or lower, check out the blackra1n application at blackra1n.com. Way easier and quicker than the old methods of jailbreaking and you don’t have to reformat/restore your firmware to use it. I’ll post a quick tutorial after this post has been published, but even without instructions, it’s pretty dead simple – there’s only one button in the app. Just remember to shut down iTunes before you try it, otherwise your USB connection will get hijacked by it. (If you’re running OS 3.1.3 and you don’t have an iPhone 3G-S or iPod Touch 3G, this guide might be able to help you out: http://modmyi.com/guides/?p=3041)
My Top 10 Cydia Apps for 2010
- Grooveshark With a $3/month VIP subscription to Grooveshark, you can access your entire Grooveshark library from your iPhone and, oh yeah, listen to any song you can think of, immediately. I can’t even begin to explain how awesome this is; if you don’t yet have a Grooveshark account, get one now (free on your desktop, just costs $3/mo for the iPhone access & VIP account) at Grooveshark.com. You can thank me later. 😉
- SBSettings This is the reason I waited until 3.0 (and 3.1, and 3.1.2) were jailbroken before I upgraded. And honestly, I’d jailbreak my phone for this application alone, even if there were no other jailbreak apps available. It’s really that useful. I think this post explains it all: http://theappleblog.com/2009/06/22/sbsettings-why-i-still-jailbreak-with-3-0/
- iRealSMS This is the SMS client that Apple should have included in the iPhone from the beginning. Instead of having to close your current app to reply to a text message, you can reply directly from the message popup. You can also send a new SMS without leaving your app by pressing a hotkey (default is the volume up button, but you can customize this), and you can save a draft to your Notes application, which makes this super handy for jotting down quick notes, or even tweeting a command to your favorite task management application (I can add tasks to Remember the Milk over SMS via Twitter by prefixing “d rtm” to the task I want to add.)
- Backgrounder + Kirikae You know how Apple doesn’t let you run multiple apps at once in the stock iPhone OS? (Well, at least before iPhone OS 4.0 comes out…) These two apps let you do just that. Backgrounder is the app/extension that enables application backgrounding, so that you can choose whether or not an application quits when you return to the SpringBoard (press the home button). Kirikae allows you to quickly switch between running apps or launch new ones.
- Orbit Flipping through more than a couple pages of apps on your SpringBoard is a huge pain in the ass. Orbit is one of those apps that definitely should have been included in the stock OS – it allows you to view all the SpringBoard pages in an Expose-like fashion, and navigate directly to any page you like.
- Notifier (aka Reminder) Pretty simple app/extension, but very useful – you can set it to display all sorts of notifications in your status bar, like missed calls, voicemail, new e-mail, and unread SMS. Very nice to have.
- Insomnia You may have already noticed that your iPhone’s WiFi connection is dropped when the device goes to sleep, which is especially frustrating if you’re connected to an SSH session. Insomnia allows you to keep the WiFi connection active when the phone is sleeping or locked.
- Five Icon Dock Pretty self-explanatory; lets you hold five apps in your dock instead of the default four. (And I’m guessing that this might be a built-in feature by the time iPhone OS 4.0 drops, after seeing the iPad’s six-icon dock capability.)
- LockInfo (or Element – just released!) For those of you coming from the Windows Mobile world, you probably miss the “Today” screen that lists your calls, appointments and messages. Luckily, thanks to LockInfo or Element, you can have these back, on your lock screen or SpringBoard. I’ve been using LockInfo for months myself and can’t imagine my iPhone without it anymore. On the other hand, there’s been a lot of buzz about Element for quite some time now, and it’s just been released in the Cydia store. (BTW, LockInfo is a paid application and Element is currently free.)
- Winterboard (or Desktop/SMS Background) I’m still a little torn in regard to Winterboard. On the one hand, the abilities you get from it are incredible – SpringBoard background wallpaper, custom themes, widgets, keyboard mods, and more. On the other hand, it feels like it drags my 3G down to a snail’s pace, especially with the SpringBoard background enabled. For those of you with a 3G-S or iPod Touch 3G, however, I doubt you’ll notice the speed hit. In my case, I’ve chosen to use the Desktop/SMS Background application instead. You don’t get the custom icon themes or other extensions that you would get with Winterboard, but if all you want is a desktop background, it’s a lot faster (IMO).
I found a great list of “6 Free Tools that every Windows Programmer should Install” via a contact of mine on Twitter, which made me want to create my own list, similar to the tools listed in the link above, with a few additions and changes:
It’s also worth noting that Safari and Chrome (well, anything rendered with Webkit, it seems) have an excellent set of development tools built-in that are very similar to the functionality of Firebug in Firefox, and even IE8 is catching up to the game with its Developer Tools window/pane.
I agree with Ian, this program is excellent. Gives you some useful information for a change (and something you can do with it) when you get the message “Cannot delete <X>: It is being used by another person or program.”
If you’ve been using Subversion for source control, I’m sure you’ve heard of this client. If not, get it immediately. It rocks, and integrates exceptionally well with Windows Explorer. (Not to mention Visual Studio, via AnkhSVN or VisualSVN)
Since Internet Explorer is the scourge of the Interwebs that will never go away, it helps to be able to test your site in multiple versions of IE, and since only one version can be installed at a time (and since IE8 Compatibility Mode doesn’t really help at all), IETester is a good solution that lets you test IE5.5, IE6, IE7, and IE8 rendering engines in the same tabbed browser. Very cool.
- VMWare Player
…But, as my coworker mentioned, Internet Explorer is pretty invasive and modifies more on your system than just the rendering DLLs, so it’s a good idea to keep a spare VM running each flavor of IE as well. VMWare Player is the free version of VMWare Workstation, which will run pre-existing virtual machines, but can’t create new ones. Since that functionality is missing from VMWare Player, you can use this site to create your own virtual machines from scratch: EasyVMX! Virtual Machine Creator.
- .NET Reflector
RedGate’s description says it best:
“.NET Reflector enables you to easily view, navigate, and search through, the class hierarchies of .NET assemblies, even if you don’t have the code for them. With it, you can decompile and analyze .NET assemblies in C#, Visual Basic, and IL.”
- Sysinternals Suite (includes Process Explorer)
Ian Hickman’s post (6 Free Tools that every Windows Programmer should Install) suggests Process Explorer alone, which is a superior Task Manager replacement, but I’ll extend it to suggest the whole Sysinternals Suite, since it comes with so many other great utilities and includes Process Explorer along with them. One of my favorite tools besides PE is AutoRuns, which is a msconfig.exe replacement that offers a much better look at your startup apps and services.
TortoiseSVN comes with its own diff tool, but I tend to end up using WinMerge instead because it does a great job with comparing local files or differing versions of a file in source control, and integrates seamlessly with TortoiseSVN.
I’m definitely a keyboard junkie, so anything I can do to keep my hands on the keyboard is a plus. Launchy is by far my favorite application launcher for that reason. All I have to do is hit Alt+Space (you can reassign the hotkey if you like), and it brings up a prompt that allows me to launch anything on my Start Menu, and do a number of other tasks as well (launch websites, perform quick calculations, etc.). Definitely saves me a ton of time.
- Charles / Fiddler
Of the two apps listed above, I prefer Charles, which is a paid application, but I’ve listed Fiddler as a free alternative. Both apps are proxies that log traffic between your system and the server you’re debugging (even localhost) and both provide valuable debugging information that is particularly helpful when trying to debug web services. From the Charles website:
“Charles is an HTTP proxy / HTTP monitor / Reverse Proxy that enables a developer to view all of the HTTP traffic between their machine and the Internet. This includes requests, responses and the HTTP headers (which contain the cookies and caching information).”
- EmEditor / Notepad++ / Notepad2
All three of the apps listed above are excellent full-featured text editors, but I prefer the feature set of EmEditor, which is a paid application. The killer feature that EmEditor provides which I haven’t yet found in either of the other editors is the Find *and Replace* in files. Notepad++ has a Find in Files option, but I haven’t found a Replace in Files function without opening up every single document and performing a replace in all open documents (info on that approach here: How To “Find And Replace” Words In Multiple Files).
Notepad2 doesn’t offer the same tabbed document interface that both EmEditor and Notepad++ offer, but it is an incredibly lightweight, and more importantly, self-contained executable that’s a perfect drop-in replacement for Windows Notepad (info on how to do this here: Replace Notepad with Notepad2).
Any of these apps offer syntax highlighting and are a great alternative to firing up Visual Studio when you need to make a quick edit (or on one of the *many* occasions when Visual Studio slows waaaaay down or locks up your system).
Honorable mention: PhraseExpress
This program rocks. I’ve only started using it recently, and not nearly to its fullest potential, but the clipboard manager functionality alone is worth the download:
Also, I neglected to mention AutoHotkey since I haven’t used it as much as I probably could, but I can say that I’ve had a lot of luck with the AutoHotkey script iTunesAnywhere, which helps since I don’t have a keyboard with multimedia keys and for whatever godforsaken reason, iTunes *still* doesn’t natively support global hotkeys like Winamp does. (I’d switch back to Winamp, but I drank the Apple kool-aid and picked up an iPhone in January.)
This is a super-slick Adobe AIR application which you can use to browse Flickr. Check out the screenshots below:
As you can see, it’s a pretty slick application. And, since you might be interested, you can find the photo in the screenshot above here:
DestroyFlickr, on the other hand, can be found here:
I must say, it’s well worth the small download and simple install. Very slick. 🙂