Crowdfunded Prize For Open Source Jailbreaking iOS7 To Improve Accessibility

from the awesome-on-multiple-levels dept

Here’s a story which hits on so many different points that we’re interested in. There’s a new effort to crowdsource a “prize” for whoever can release an open source jailbreak for iOS7. First off, we’ve been big fans of “innovation prizes” like the X Prize. We’re also big fans of crowdfunding — so here’s an example of combining both of those: crowdfunding an innovation prize — which has already reached about $6,500 despite no publicity (yet). Next, the prize is for another thing that we think is of utmost importance: the freedom to tinker with products you bought. The locked down nature of the iPhone remains one of the shames of modern technology. Encouraging a true, open source jailbreak is important in opening up the technology — for a variety of important reasons (including a huge one that inspired this project, as will be explained below). The project also has a four person team to judge which solution will qualify for the prize, including some folks you might recognize: Cory Doctorow, Kyle Wiens (of iFixit) and Gabreilla Coleman (professor who studies hacktivism, Anonymous and has posted here).

But perhaps the most interesting (if unfortunate) point in this story is the reason for the project in the first place. The fourth judge is Chris Maury, who inspired the creation of this project in the first place. Maury has Stargardt’s Macular Degeneration, a genetic condition that has taken him from having 20/20 vision just a few years ago to rapidly losing his vision, to the point that he will eventually be legally blind (already he can no longer drive). He would like to be able to actually use his iPhone but much of the software that makes the phone usable with his vision isn’t available in the iTunes App Store. Thus, he needs to jailbreak the phone in order to use it.

This is really the most shameful part of locked down systems. In the past, we’ve talked about how the short-sighted view of people who want to lock out certain types of applications almost resulted in a young girl being unable to communicate, and here we have a situation where someone with a severe visual impairment can’t get everything possible out of the devices he’s purchased. What kind of world are we living in that we think it’s okay to have this as “standard operating procedures” for the electronics we use every day?

Thankfully, what giant companies try to lock up, creativity can hopefully unlock. And, in this case, we’ve got layer upon layer of creative innovations to try to get around a bad situation. While it’s unfortunate that such a project is even necessary in the first place, it’s inspiring to see this kind of creativity pop up to try to solve the problem. Go check out the project. If you want to contribute to the prize, you can do so there (and, yes, they accept Bitcoin, too), or if you feel like creating an open source jailbreak for iOS7 and collecting the prize (or just basking in the wonders of doing something good), check it out as well.

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Comments on “Crowdfunded Prize For Open Source Jailbreaking iOS7 To Improve Accessibility”

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22 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Choose with your wallet

Why do people like this insist on supporting the very companies that seek to impair their lives?

Support Android, get a rooted device, and be happy. If you support the ecosystem that supports you, it will be better for everyone in the end – and hopefully demonstrate to companies like Apple that there are other choices out there, and they better shape up or ship out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Choose with your wallet

Agreed. Why jailbreak IoS where there is a much better, much friendlier competitor already out there, on phones that are as good or better, and can be implemented on much larger portable screens without issue?

The guy is facing a problem and I can understand his need, but you have to think that a Samsung pad with 4g wireless and headset would be a much better way to do things that trying to make the tiny print on a small Apple screen work for a legally blind person.

For my take, this guy isn’t just legally blind, his vision appears to be obscured by the brick wall he is hitting his head against.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Choose with your wallet

Exactly!!

What is this very much American infatuation and worshipping of Apple. And yes it’s still a form of worshipping to even create a project that’s only raison d’?tre is to break a product that is the reason for the whole problem in the first place!

Do what the rest of the world does and work with anything except Apple and maybe Apple might lose the market hold they currently have with the US market (they have lost it with the rest of the world thank gawd) and lo & behold get that so needed kick in their proverbial whatsits and actually create a product that is WHAT PEOPLE NEED instead of What people are TOLD they WANT.

Ah but that would be logical and consumer friendly, and no one ever accused the American markets of that 😉

out_of_the_blue says:

Apparently corporatist Mike wants to help Apple despite Apple.

And going at it ass backwards because surely Apple could be pressured to okay such existing tools with so worthy a purpose. My opinion is that Mike just can’t bring himself to actually directly criticize Apple (or any corporation unless opposed to one of his favorites such as Google), so he endorses this method that would result in helping Apple.

Mike manifestly doesn’t understand the WHY of locked-down systems: CONTROL. Apple is one of the worst for control and spying. The increasing number of dolts going along with its Orwellian systems because dazzled with shiny gadgets is one of the most alarming trends of the decade. But Mike appears to think Apple is just “short-sighted”, NOT far-sighted to the immanent surveillance society where Apple will be a key player. (Turns out as usual that Apple’s “1984” commercial was the opposite of its actual goals.)

Then there’s the juxtaposition of using “short-sighted” after a paragraph about macular degeneration. That’s just lousy, oblivious, hasty writing to NOT notice.


Mike often tells us that he knows how teh internets work, but never really shows a grasp of human nature in practice, the fraud and control to gain money any way can.

14:13:26[p-170-8]

Graham J (profile) says:

Mike, it’s pretty sad that you’re letting your personal views of Apple get in the way of your job once again. You’re advocating for malware to be developed that could expose hundreds of millions of devices to attack. It’s bad enough that Android has so many attack vectors, you do no service to your readers trying to add one to the more secure iOS.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You act as if this malware wouldn’t be created without crowdsourcing.

The truth is, this malware probably already exists in private circles, and by publicly exposing security holes, there’s a higher chance that the privately-created malware may have to be enhanced further at the expense of the “bad guys”.

So, your premise that jailbreaking will somehow expose a security hole that wasn’t already known is probably false. It’s the same old “security by obscurity” excuse.

Mike Brown (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If I want to use a pair of scissors to trim my fingernails, that’s my business. The manufacturer of those scissors can’t do anything about it, and I won’t shed a tear for their lost nail-clipper revenues.

Likewise, if put down my hard earned money on an iPhone (not that I personally ever would, but that’s beside the point), that iPhone is MINE. I’ll do as I please with it, and Apple can suck it if they don’t like it.

“Malware?” Really? “Freedomware,” more like. The tool being sought in this case has to be open source; thus the code is subject to public scrutiny, and smarter guys than you and me will make sure it’s not a trap before they give out the cash.

How is anyone being exposed to attack? Because they’d be able to install 3rd party apps not approved by Apple? Look, if you think Apple’s walled garden is designed to keep the bad guys out, you’ve got another thing coming. You can still give out your credit card numbers to thieves if you visit sketchy sites, or use an unsecured wifi. I’m sorry to be the one to burst your bubble, but the walls are there to keep you in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Graham,

It is pretty sad that you are letting you personal views get in the way of someone who purchased a device who has a medical condition from being able to use his device.

What should he do? carry a giant magnifying glass every where he goes so that he can use his phone?

It is also sad, that your fanboyism causes you to attack a better operating system than your beloved apple OS.

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