Attention, jailbreak fans: two competing tools might be released in the next couple of days to jailbreak iPhones running 3.1.3--and they might also work on the iPad, which launches Saturday.
Jailbreaking is the practice of hacking an iPhone or iPod Touch to install non-Apple-approved programs and run system hacks. It allows for things like tethering, interface tweaks, and other changes Apple doesn't approve of. Many people don't like being locked in to the "ecosystem" Apple forces its iDevice users to inhabit, and jailbreaking is seen as the cure.
The hacks have been demonstrated and look legit, though no "userland" tools have been released yet. And it's not clear any will be, as hacker GeoHot, responsible for the popular Blackra1n jailbreaking tool, has steadfastly taken a "wait and see" position toward releasing a new version that features his hack.
Another hacker, Comex, has a similar jailbreak solution called Spirit (seen in the video above) that has been confirmed by the jailbreaking community to be a legitimate jailbreak for iPhones running 3.1.3, even those with the latest, harder-to-hack boot ROM. Comex hasn't said when a tool will be released, or even if one will.
Still, the very idea that a new jailbreak is on the horizon is a welcome one to many iPhone users and, likely, many iPad fans. The notion of an iPad fully unlocked is one that many geeks just cannot pass up. We'll see what happens this weekend. My money's on Comex's hack, but GeoHot might surprise us with a late April Fools' release.