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iPhone 5 jailbreak released to the public

The first true iPhone 5 jailbreak has been released, a day later than planned, but is already racking up hundreds of thousands of downloads. Owners of iOS devices running version 6.0 or 6.1, which includes the iPad 4 and iPad Mini, can now free themselves from Apple's restrictive software lockdowns if they choose.

The release, known as evasi0n by a team of programmers calling themselves Evad3rs, was originally scheduled to be released on Sunday, but a few last-minute bugs led to a final delay before the software went live late last night. As it did, the site's popularity exploded: the developers behind the software have claimed hundreds of thousands of concurrent users and downloads, as more technical iOS users seek to circumvent the restriction put in place by Apple.

Jailbreaking, a process analogous to rooting an Android handset, means installing software that permits full access to the inner workings of Apple's iOS mobile platform. While frowned upon by Apple, which seeks to block the holes used to install a jailbreak each time it updates iOS, the process is popular for the flexibility it offers: as well as customising usually restricted portions of the devices, including turning volume keys into camera shutter buttons and installing custom messaging tones, a jailbroken smartphone or tablet allows installation of software that hasn't been through Apple's approval process.

Early adopters of the evasi0n jailbreak have reported a few minor problems, including difficulties accessing the Cydia app store - a third-party repository of applications which have not been approved by Apple, provided as an alternative to the official iTunes-powered App Store - which have been blamed on excess traffic caused by so many downloading the software at once. Another bug, in the Weather app, is currently being investigated with promises of a fix being released soon.

With the jailbreak now public, Apple will begin its usual work of analysing the software to discover how it operates - meaning that when the next update of iOS is released, iOS 6.2, it will likely patch the hole and require the team to find another way to achieve their goal.

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