Apple to deliver over-the-air iOS updates – goodbye cable

One of the pet hates of many iPhone and iPad owners is that we constantly have to connect our iOS devices to a computer/mac with iTunes installed to sync or to upgrade the iOS. However that might be about to change as reports indicate that Apple is ready to deliver over-the-air iOS upgrades within the year.

It is 9to5mac that is reporting that multiple sources saying over-the-air upgrades will be part of iOS 5, but not necessarily part of the initial iOS 5 upgrade. Although the technology is there from Apple, they have to take into consideration all their network partners and what strain this might have on their mobile data networks.

The report indicates that Apple and Verizon have been in talks about delivering over-the-air upgrades for Verizon iPhone customers since the start of the year.

One of the obstacles to over-the-air upgrades of course is the size of the current iOS upgrades (600mb +) which would put a lot of strain on mobile data networks. Apple and the networks could work around this by only allowing iOS upgrades when connected to a wifi connection, not unlike what happens now if you are downloading an app that is too big or trying to download a music video on your iPhone. The other option is for Apple to somehow make the upgrades smaller, taking up less bandwidth when downloading.

Most UK networks have a a fair-usage limit to data traffic on the iPhone per month at about 500mb, so you can imagine what would cause problems for downloading a full iOS upgrade over a 3G connection.

The other issue to consider is of course a fail safe backup solution, which you currently have when upgrading through iTunes. Speculations are that this all fits in with Apple’s plans to introduce cloud system, which could also be used to store iOS backups as well as for streaming media to devices.

Many would say this is long overdue from Apple seeing that competitors like Android and Palm have been delivering over-the-air OS upgrades for a while now. With the popularity of the Apple iPad you also have many people perhaps using it as a computer substitute, in which case they need to be able to upgrade iOS without connecting their iPad to a computer with iTunes.

We will keep following the developments on this to deliver you all the latest information.


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