iOS 5 to Enable Over-the-Air iOS Updates & Patches for iPhone & iPad?
iOS 5 may include the ability to push over-the-air updates and patches to iOS, meaning you’d be able to update your iPhone or iPad without hooking it to a computer with iTunes. More specifically, iOS 5 is reported to include the feature, but it will be future versions of iOS 5 take advantage of the OTA updating, perhaps as iOS 5.1, according to a report by 9to5mac.
iOS Over-The-Air is a Step to True “Post-PC” World
Over-the-Air, or OTA, would be an important step to turning the iPhone and iPad into true “post-PC” devices, since it would free the hardware from the tethered world of desktop updates. The next question this poses regards iOS backups that are typically synced with iTunes, but that could theoretically be handled by a cloud based wireless syncing solution which is rumored to appear sometime in the future.
OTA Updates & Bandwidth Limits on Data Plans
The major problem with Over The Air updating is the increasingly strict world of wireless bandwidth limits imposed by carriers. When you consider that most software updates weigh in at hefty sizes (iOS 4.3.3 is 670mb, for example), you have to wonder how OTA iOS updates would work. There are several ways to address this, here are three possibile solutions:
- Allow OTA updates to only download over WiFi, in a similar fashion to how FaceTime only works on WiFi connections
- Split the updates into smaller incremental patches, but allow them over either cellular or wireless, as 9to5mac theorizes
- Apple reaches a deal with wireless carriers to allow OTA iOS updates to be ‘whitelisted’ from the bandwidth allowance of a users data plan, allowing users to get updates without counting against their allotted monthly limits
The report comes from 9to5mac, who cites “multiple sources” who say that Apple is working specifically with Verizon on the matter. Although they say there is no information on OTA support with other carriers, it would be unlikely for Apple to not pursue a widespread adoption of the feature across all carriers.
iOS 5 is expected to make an appearance at WWDC 2011, which begins June 6.