First of all, it isn't pretty. It isn't all butterflies and bunny tails. But it has gotten a lot better.
I wanted to jailbreak my iPhone because I was starting to get pretty tired of the relatively walled-garden that Apple has created inside the iPhone OS. When the App Store debuted I had wished it would have meant an end to how closed a system the iPhone really is, but, that was only partially realized.
The iPhone SDK, its policies, the App Store approval process for applications, non-demoable applications, lack of refund policies, and the numerous rejections that Apple has been handing out lately to hard working iPhone developers - pushed me over the edge.
You see, 1 year and 1 month ago I wrote that I wouldn't be jailbreaking my iPhone (as was the trend at the time). So why am I doing it now? What has changed? Actually, not all that much.
A jailbroken iPhone, more or less, has the same sorts of things available to it now as it did a year ago. Full applications, themes and customization options, and various utilities to get more out of your iPhone than you can without jailbreaking your iPhone. The reason I wanted to jailbreak was to try out two things.
First, I wanted to use PDAnet. I managed to buy NetShare, a program that does very much the same thing and made it to the official App Store before being removed, for $10. It is a pain to set up (or it was for me). Many people use it a lot and have no trouble. I, on the other hand, never got it to work once. PDAnet worked the very first time I tried to use it and it was fast. In fact, just today the power in my building went out and I didn't even have to stop working. Thanks PDAnet.
The second reason was that I wanted to try Qik's video recorder. Another application not-yet-approved by the Apple team. I'm not as familiar with the SDK guidelines as say, John "I can make anyone look like a Jackass" Gruber, but I'm sure there is a valid reason that Qik's video application is not in the App Store. It works though. I streamed two videos already. And, I've already built a bridge between Qik and Viddler (coming soon) to transfer those files to Viddler.
All of the other frills are just icing on the cake. Being able to choose to have my favorite photo as a background on my home screen, rather than just black. Being able to remove applications that I don't want! Hiding application icons. So on and so forth.
Sure, not all of the things that jailbreaking your iPhone can do should end up back in the official product and software. But my next wish list for the iPhone would have to be that Apple select 500 people that have jailbroken their iPhone, create a matrix of all of the things they did the most and why, and then build the iPhone OS 3.0 off of some of those ideas.