It seems like a no-brainer to hackers, modders and tweakers that the “open” mobile system, Android, would be the best choice with which to create their frankenstein, but, surprisingly, the iPhone is a whole lot friendlier to off-label twiddling. This might come as a surprise (even to iPhone fans), but Lifehacker identifies a number of ways in which the iPhone simply has Android beat for hack-friendliness.
First of all, the iPhone is easier to root (meaning: the process by which a user can gain system-level control over the device). Rooting (or, as iPhone culture calls it, “Jailbreaking”) is a key element in creating hacks that have the freedom to mess with any system-level function, so being able to do so easily is no small thing.
The next feather in the iPhone’s cap is the consistency of hardware and software. Where Android is blessed and cursed (depending on who you ask) with hundreds of handset models and numerous sub-sects of code, an iPhone is an iPhone is an iPhone. This means if you create a hack that you’d like to get out into the wild, you can trust that the iPhone that loads it will have predictable results. Android — not so much.
And, of course, there’s Cydia:
[quote]Lastly, we come to Cydia. Now, I’m the first guy to complain about how slow and annoying Cydia can be, but after coming from Android, I’ve realized that Cydia is the greatest thing to happen to us phone tweakers. Want to install an app, tweak, or customization to your iPhone? Chances are pretty darn good you’ll find it among the thousands of apps and tweaks available in Cydia. Want to do the same on Android? Once you’ve narrowed down the tweaks that your device can actually use, you’ll have to root through forums like XDA Developers or RootzWiki or countless others to find what you’re looking for, and then sideload it onto your phone via Dropbox or USB. And don’t even get me started on what happens when Megaupload or whatever hosting service they’re using goes down—then it becomes even harder to find that tweak. Cydia takes two steps: search, tap to install. [/quote]
Lifehacker isn’t so enamoured with the iPhone as a hacker’s paradise that they’ve forgotten some of its shortcomings; complaints still predictably endure about niggling issues like the lack of widgets and certain no-brainer features that Android employs (like location-based task management). But, when the rooting is all said and done, the iPhone appears to lay out a somewhat tastier main course than its “open” cousin.