How to set up iPhone OS updates over air [guide]

One of the great new features that finally arrived to iOS devices with the release of iOS 5 was over-the-air updates and syncing. Yesterday Apple released iOS 5.0.1, an update to fix bugs in the original release, including the now famous issue with iPhone 4S battery drain, although there are conflicting reports as to whether or not the update fixed the issue.

With the new firmware update being available i thought i would test the new air-upgrade feature, and at the same time put together this little guide on how to enable over-air iOS updates (OTA). The process is not very complicated, but given the size of the update it is recommended to do it over a Wi-Fi connection, and either have a fully charged iOS device or to have it plugged in while running the update.

Step 1: Back up your iOS device

It is always recommended to do a back up/sync of your iOS device prior to running any software upgrades. If you are an iCloud user this can be done automatically over-night if you are connected to Wi-Fi and have the power connected. If not connect to iTunes the same way as before and allow your iOS device to complete a sync/back up.

Step 2: Check for software update in Settings App

Once you have synced/backed up your device, open the Settings App –> General –> Software Update

If an update is available you will see the following screen.

iOS OTA software update

Then simply tap on the ‘Download and Install’ button at the bottom of the screen.

Step 3: Agree to terms and conditions

iOS OTA software update

Step 4: Connect your iOS device to power if low battery

Trust me, you don’t want to run out of battery mid-way through an OTA update, so plug-in if you are in doubt.

iOS OTA software update

Step 5: Relax and watch the progress bar

You are now on your way with the update, and Apple has included a handy little progress bar that shows where in the download process you are. The faster connection you have the faster the progress of course.

iOS OTA software update

Step 6: Time to install

Once the download is finished the screen will prompt you to start installing the update.

iOS OTA software update

And Apple will then verify the installation.

iOS OTA software update

Step 7: You are done!

Unless you have run into some kind of issue your update should now be then and you can start using your iOS device again, with the latest software installed.

I found the process of running OTA (over-the-air) updates much smoother and faster than the old connect to iTunes method. I am however keen to hear from others who have run OTA updates and how you found the process, and if there was any issues. So feel free to share your experience by leaving a comment below.


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