iPhone users grow happy behind bars -->
Three months after the release of Apple's iOS7, the first jailbreak tool for this new mobile operating system was rolled out to the public late on December 22. For those who are new to iOS jailbreaking, it refers to the process of removing restrictions on Apple's devices, including iPhone, iPad and iPod, via the use of software developed by tech whizzes, allowing users to download and install applications, themes and feature extensions that are not authorized to distribute on Apple's official App Store. While the jailbreak software usually came out one month or one day soon after a new Apple mobile operating system was unveiled, US-based hacking team evad3rs took far longer to crack the latest iOS7.The long wait seems worth, as the team proclaimed that users will only need some five minutes to jailbreak a device running iOS7 through the pretty simple-to-use new tool "evasiOn7."The tool, for the first time, includes Chinese third-party app store Taig, an alternative to the internationally used shop Cydia, so as to better serve the Chinese market where the scale of jailbroken devices is much larger than other countries. Taig is an app written in Chinese, "tailored, and we believe, well suited to meet the needs of users for the Chinese market."Chinese iOS owners used to anxiously wait for jailbreak tools so as to install pirated apps on their iPhone, iPad or iPod, given that most of them are not fans of buying apps.According to a report from Beijing-based market research firm Umeng, more than half of the total iOS devices in China were jailbroken by July 2011, though this means relinquishing any official system updates in the future, taking chances with wonky apps and putting personal information like online payment accounts under the risk of being stolen by some piracy sites.This time, however, the news of the jailbreak seems to have suffered fairly cold response from the Chinese masses. Satisfying iOS7Apple's lack of a customer-friendly iOS design for devices in China used to be one of the factors that forced users to jailbreak their devices. Unlike previous generations, the latest mobile operating system features not only the original full Qwerty Keyboard but also a long-awaited 10-Key Pinyin Keyboard. In addition, the company also embraces main control panel and multitasking screen, which in the past had to be realized through the help of additional tweaks. A full of 58.5 percent of Apple devices in China had adopted iOS7 by the end of November, less than two months after the company pushed out the new system update in mid-September, said Umeng. Li Qian, a 27-year-old Hebei resident, has just upgraded her iPhone 5 to iOS7. She said she has no intention of jailbreaking, largely because the new design is good enough to meet her daily needs. Apple is paying increasing attention to China which "is currently our second-largest market" and is anticipated to be its largest in the future, Apple's CEO Tim Cook said during his second trip to China in January. The company has just announced a tie-in with China Mobile, the country's largest Telecom carrier in terms of subscribers, offering pre-orders of contracted iPhone 5S/5Cs on Wednesday, making it possible to capture a greater share from its major rivals in the market. Many people see no need for jailbreaking, said Hao Peiqiang, a Shanghai-based independent app developer and tech blogger, musing that the next iOS generation will be further improved, displaying more tailored features to "please" their Chinese buyers. More free appsBesides, more and more free apps are becoming available on Apple's App Store, removing Chinese consumers' most important motivation for iOS jailbreaking, Wang Jun, an industry analyst with Analysys International told the Global Times.The scale of jailbroken iOS devices in China had narrowed to 30 percent by June, though this is still higher than the average ratio of 13 percent in other countries and regions."I used to jailbreak my iPad so as to get pirated apps from other sources. But recently I found that most apps I need are also offered free on Apple's official store, so there is no reason for me to jailbreak my device at the expense of avoiding updates or new features," said Li Yu, a Beijing-based white-collar worker, who has already reset his system.Chinese users of smart devices love free apps, and app developers in China and abroad have taken note. Wang noted that more and more developers have changed their marketing strategy, preferring to offer free app downloads and gain money from other venues such as advertisements incomes and in-app purchases. For instance, when bestselling tower defense video game Plants vs Zombies was first introduced into the Chinese market in 2010, the download was not free. But the second version, newly released in early August, allows gamers free play and in-app purchases of tools that can speed up completion. According to a report by US-based app market research firm Flurry Analytics, the number of free apps in Apple's App Store has swung between 80 and 84 percent for the past three years, but this year, the amounts surged upward to the current 90 percent. Of course, there are app developers unwilling to provide a free version on App Store. But users now could still get them free without jailbreaking, if they can bring themselves to trust some domestic piracy websites such as Kuaiyong. Those sites are cleverly working within Apple's rules; companies, as long as they obtain a license from Apple, are allowed to sign and send apps to their employees who have no need to deal with App Store for app development purpose. Taking Kuaiyong for example, which obtains apps through cracking or purchasing, marks them with Apple's enterprise license signature, and then shelve signed apps on its website for anyone to free download, according to media reports. In the future, the iOS jailbreaking community in China will become smaller and smaller, but is unlikely to disappear. Not all apps in App Store are easy-to-use at present, which may force some ordinary users to seek help "in the wild," said Hao. And domestic tech geeks who intend to homebrew innovative tweaks and theme for their own amusement will also need this technology to help them break Apple's limitations, he added.