While Apple’s latest iOS 6 beta didn’t make any significant changes to the platform’s front-end — aside from removing the YouTube app — it did make some changes under the hood. In addition to “bug fixes,” it appears the fourth beta has made some improvements to App Store download times that make updating your apps super snappy.
As shown in the video below — spotted by Brazilian site BlogdoiPhone — an update to Apple’s Podcasts app on the iPhone takes significantly less time to download and install than it does on iOS 5.1.1.
While it could be that the iPhones in this clip are connected to different Wi-Fi networks, with one faster than the other, I was able to confirm this myself by downloading this morning’s BBC iPlayer update on my iPhone 4S running iOS 6 beta 4, and my wife’s iPhone 4S running iOS 5.1.1. Although there wasn’t a major difference — nowhere near the difference shown in this video — mine was slightly quicker.
BlogdoiPhone speculates that this could be a sign Apple has finally introduced support for “delta” updates in iOS 6. This means that rather than downloading entire apps all over again, just to introduce new features or bug fixes, you just download a patch containing the changes.
Of course, for that to happen, iOS developers would need to change how they upload their apps to Apple. Rather than updating the entire package, as they do now, they’d have to update just the changes — or the delta update. Or they’d have to update the entire app, and the delta update for existing users.
Having said that, seeing as the app in this video is Apple’s own Podcasts app, it’s possible the Cupertino company is testing delta updates before opening them up to third-party developers.
Delta updates would certainly be a welcome introduction to iOS, especially to users who use their data connection to update their apps. It’s likely to be only a matter of time before they arrive. But it is also hard to say whether or not this is a delta update in action.