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There's a charming fiction that goes something like this: Apple hates jailbreakers and does everything it can to stifle them. The truth is a bit more complicated. For Apple, the jailbreak community is a great sounding board and a farm team from which to recruit talent. Take iOS 5's new Notification Center. It looks a lot like developer Peter Hajas' jailbreak app MobileNotifier -- and no wonder, Hajas now works for Apple.
And Apple isn't above stealing a couple other tricks from jailbreak-land. Take the prime real estate of the Lock Screen. It looks like Apple's given it an accessible notification overhaul too. Question is, can Apple's version compete with the jailbreakers'?
Intelliborn is a jailbreak shop full of goodness. They put tethering into our hands before it was legit, they unlocked the 3G restriction on FaceTime, and their Tlert redesigned how text messages arrive and are handled. And they were one of the first to take all that wasted space of the Lock Screen and put some functionality into it with Intelliscreen.
First things first, you have to jailbreak your device, then head on over to Cydia to get Intelliscreen. Like many jailbreak apps, Intelliscreen comes with a three day free trial so you can sample an app before shelling out dough (something we'd definitely like to see Apple copy). Install the package and you're good to go.
No Mail, But Our Calendar's Busy Busy Busy
Now you're ready to rock calendar events, text messages, the local weather, news and sports headlines, and short email summaries straight from your Lock Screen. You don't have to wait for a notification to get it either. It's there all the time.
An icon for the app is installed on your iPhone, same as any legit App Store app, and tapping on it takes you to your settings for Intelliscreen. Here you can set how many emails you'll get a peek at, how many headlines, how many text messages and so forth.
RSS Feeds Keep You Up to Date
Don't want your emails under the scrutinizing eye of anyone who picks up your phone? Turn them off in settings and your texts and calendar events pick up the slack. Don't care much for sports? Drop it from your Intelliscreen choices and plug in your very own RSS feeds. Swipe across any of these items and miniaturized window appears with a preview of the message or news story. From this window, you can launch the application in question.
If You Need Glasses, This Is Gonna Be Hard To Read
That's a lot going on in one page, but Intelliscreen has a trick up its sleeve, breaking it all into two pages that you access by double tapping on the clock icon. The opaque screen flips over giving you your second screen. Like the quick accessibility, but don't want anyone who picks up your phone to see what's going on? Swipe left on the clock and everything disappears save for a discrete icon hanging off the clock bottom. Swipe right and it comes back.
Alerts Peel Back Intelliscreen
Intelliscreen is so slickly made, so pretty, and so flawless in execution you'd almost believe it's how Apple would design it. However, Apple's Lock Screen appears to be limited to notifications and apps that push those, which leaves out some of the functionality of Intelliscreen and its constant presence. Is that enough to kill this jailbreak favorite?
The top competitor to Intelliscreen's basket of goodness is dba Technologies' LockInfo, but this wily developer has a few tricks up its sleeve too. While Intelliscreen is very Cupertino in being mostly locked down as to how much you can customize it, LockInfo offers themes and plug-ins that explode its capabilities.
Tons of Plugins And All Have Settings
Once installed through Cydia, LockInfo has no app icon and instead resides hidden away in your settings. Where Intelliscreen had two pages of viewable items, LockInfo gives you three, accessible from different locales. LockInfo is easy to set up initially but settings junkies can get lost in everything on offer.
Just a Taste of All the Settings Capabilities
Firstly, there is the Lockscreen option where you can have your weather, your calendar, your mail, your texts, and so forth available for quick access from your Lock Screen. Then there is a Homescreen which replaces your usual main first page of apps, sliding them over one screen. Finally there is InfoShade, which can be accessed in a variety of ways though we prefer sliding it down from the taskbar with a swipe gesture.
By default, each of these is identical, but by turning off certain features or by adding additional plug-ins you can customize them. Native designed plug-ins from the developer include RSS feeds, tasks from popular official App Store apps like Things, 2Do, or Appigo Todo, your Twitter feed, an expandable calendar, and the weather. Take a quick visit to Cydia and you can customize LockInfo's theme, add Pocket Informant or eTask todos, and (our favorite) get the HTC plug in which turns your Lock Screen clock into an HTC style big digit flip clock.
Rather Pretty, No?
With three different screens, two of which require your phone to be unlocked to access, privacy types can use their Lock Screen for public information like news and weather, put their texts and emails on the Homescreen, then add additional options for their InfoShade. This resolves part of the issue posed by someone who asked us "Well, if your personal information is on the Lock Screen, what's the point of password locking your phone?"
If Things Look Crowded on the Left, Tap Secton Headers to Collapse for Neatness' Sake
Unlike Intelliscreen, LockInfo has everything in one long flow down. Can't that get kind of crowded and busy looking? Sure, but tap on the section headers for each of your items such as your calendar events and they collapse into discrete bars. Even better, your mail section includes a little number for your unread count.
It remains to be seen if Apple's notifications-only Lock Screen improvement is quite robust enough to make these jailbreak alternatives less appealing. Our guess is no. With a range of customizability choices, both Intelliscreen and LockInfo make apple sauce out of what it appears Cupertino has to offer. But which is your best choice?
In the end, we choose LockInfo. Intelliscreen has a very Apple-style implementation and if svelte Apple-style looks were enough, we'd be satisfied. By the lack of add-ons and plug-ins reminds us why we jailbroke in the first place -- so we could tweak our functionality. With one more screen than its competitor, LockInfo not only gives us more in terms of viewing real estate, but it also provides a range of plug-ins for business or pleasure. The additional screens let us hide our email access behind our passcode, we can call or text our Favorites straight from the Lock Screen, and we can tweak our settings to our heart's content. And seriously, have you looked at that gorgeous clock?