With iOS 5, iTunes Will Treat Every Electrical Socket In Your House Like A USB Port

With iOS 5, iTunes Will Treat Every Electrical Socket In Your House Like A USB Port

When Apple unveiled iOS 5 yesterday and debuted their mobile operating system’s new PC free capabilities, one small but important feature that was mostly overlooked in the coverage: WiFi Sync coming to iTunes. And the way it works is smart.

Steve Jobs has gone on record in the past saying he wanted to bring WiFi Sync to iTunes, but that they hadn’t found an implementation they liked yet. Given the fact that there’s Cydia apps that do WiFi Sync already, it’s clear that the problem wasn’t so much transferring data over WiFi: Apple just didn’t really know what to do about the other prime function of tethering your iPhone to iTunes: charging.

The way iTunes WiFi Sync will work come iOS 5 and iTunes 10.5 is an elegant solution to the dual problems of sync and charge. Every time you plug in your iOS device to a charger on your home network, it opens a WiFi connection to iTunes and starts a sync.

In essence, sync has finally been decoupled from charging. It’s a decoupling that is past due: with the iPad, Apple finally released an iOS device that couldn’t easily be charged on most USB ports, due to the 10 watt USB requirement for charging. Most of us are already charging our iPads primarily through a wall connection, syncing through iTunes only when we have to.

With WiFi sync, plugging your iPhone or iPad into a wall is just as good as plugging it into iTunes. Leave it to Apple to solve the iTunes tethering problem by thinking outside the box: they’ve made every electrical socket in your home into a umbilical to iTunes.

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  • Tallest_Skil

    How is this decoupling at all? This is even MORE coupling. Charging is now synonymous with syncing while the old method didn’t require syncing to be done at all, even when charging on a computer.

  • dagamer34

    Even better, you can trigger syncing from your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch without ever interacting with the computer. You just have to be plugged in.

  • Isaac65

    Are you implying that every time we connect the phone to charge it’s going to force us to sync?
    I’m sure it’ll either happen in the background or it will give you an option to sync when connected.
    Dude, all you have to do is tell it to sync when you plug it in before going to bed.

  • Ken Hughes

    Hopefully there’s a toggle setting for “Sync when plugged in”.

  • Ken Hughes

    So I followed my logic through *after* I posted and I’m not sure you’d need this function. If you plug in and don’t want to sync, just cancel it. Otherwise just let it do its thing and charge whilst doing it.

  • Jeff

    The ‘old’ method required a computer with iTunes running… this does not. In most instances, when one’s phone is plugged into a charger it is not being used. Perfect time to sync to the Cloud using stored preferences without having to bother to ask.

  • thebingster

    I’m guessing this only works if your computer is switched on. I normally charge my phone overnight, when my MBP is switched off.

  • Hampus

    No you can abort the sync and if there isnt any iTunes in wifi to sync with it won’t so it’s hardly required…

  • DarylFritz

    What are the odds Apple will drop the price of the power adapters? 
    A lot of my friends don’t have a charger for their iPhones… 

  • Newfie Bill

    If I am not mistaken, and what I understood from the Keynote is that it is possible in iOS5 that I would not need a computer/iTunes open and running because my iDevices are going to sync, backup and update over wifi through iCloud. My wifi at home is always on and hardly ever turned off. 

  • Rackmaster

    I agree. I think he’s used “decouple” incorrectly. Sync is now “coupled” with outlet charging, whereas previously, outlet charging was “decoupled” from syncing. (USB charging was/is “coupled” with charging for some devices.)

  • Macinscott

    Am I the only one who would have preferred Apple changed from USB to Thunderbolt instead of WiFi? Seems like we’re going backwards out of convenience (Firewire to USB to WiFi).

    Of course, WiFi syncing is a nice option to have, but when I have Gigs of data to move I’m using a hard wired connection.

    If iCloud can keep my home and work iMacs in sync for $25/year so I don’t have to manually move files it might be worth it. But how long will that take — more than minutes. I have 10,418 songs in iTunes and it’s a hell of a lot easier copying the entire iTunes folder to an external drive than waiting for 54.89GB to sync or re-download on another computer.

  • Aufdenschlips

    interesting …

    how did they happen to get an iphone …

  • Doug Bursnall

    What connector will the iPhone 4S/5 have? No need for those 32?pins with wireless sync. USB? Wireless Charge? or a flip out wall connector built in :O)

  • Doug Bursnall

    Dont need your computer, syncs with iCloud.

  • winski

    So, this makes a HUGE LEAP of assumption that all of us live in a discreet, closed environment of electrical outlets as in a single-family home – NOT!

    What about all us lonely creatures that live in Condos, Apartments, nursing homes, etc. ??? If the ‘every outlet as a USB port’ logic were followed who pays the bill in the above case.. What about pulling in at Airports?? Starbucks ?? Everywhere else!!???

    Just won’t fly for the MAJORITY of users….

  • Mike Rathjen

    “A lot of my friends don’t have a charger for their iPhones…”

    What did they do with the free chargers that come with the iPhones?

  • dale2000

    “into a umbilical”

    I know you won’t read this, John, but I notice more typos, spelling and grammatical errors from you than any other writer for a major blog.  This one’s no big deal, but it’s just one straw of a thousand.

  • dale2000

    Yeah… I think he meant that sync’ing is decoupled from tethering…

    Maybe he should have said that sync’ing, now that it has been decoupled from tethering to the computer, has been then recoupled with connecting to a power source.

    Anyways..

  • PaintTheSkyGrey

    You know that you can still sync as normal, right? This is just another option for those that wish to use it…

  • Wirehedd

    I don’t think you quite understood the concept being presented. It isn’t that you will be syncing via data transfer through the actual outlet merely that when you are plugged into an outlet your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch will then also open a wi-fi link to your iTunes system and begin syncing. I would expect that in the event you are outside of the range of your home network this will not happen.

    If I am mistaken in MY understanding of your position I apologize, just trying to help. :)

  • Wirehedd

    Of all the people I know who have iPhones the only ones (two of them actually) who don’t have the wall plug unit lost them to being eaten by a dog and the other was lost when his daughter took it to charge her iPod on a school trip out of town.

    I do know of another person who didn’t have one but he’s a creep and his was stolen. He tried to buy one of mine at first and I told him to go buy one from a store. He was arrested a while after when he tried to get repair work done on a stolen MacBook he had.

  • Tyler Smith

    i have ios 5 beta and apple has made a hype over nothing it doesn’t sync. you still have to teather. you no longer have to quit syncing to use your iphone does it in the background while it plugged to the computer

  • Charles

    wow, how rude.

  • Blue Zurich

    Ha! That’s funny that someone would ASSume your idevice would sync to your neighbors laptop in a hotel room. Gee, Apple  that one just slipped right by you! Not. Of course it wouldn’t happen that way, it will only work with a pre selected iTunes/IP match.

  • denkster

    you will still be allowed to live in a condo or nursing home.

  • denkster

    The NSA is looking into this

  • JG

    That’s a seriously bad title.  This is *NOT* LAN-over-power-lines which is what the title implies but just old-fashioned WiFi/3G sync-ing.

  • Bigitalian

    If my understanding is correct, you won’t have to re-download your music from the cloud to your mac at work. You can access your library in the cloud and “stream” your music from there. Your music is never uploaded to the cloud unless its not one of the 18 million songs they already have in the cloud. It simply scans your library, which you can then access from anywhere with your appleID, and listen to your music as you wish from the cloud. Now downloads or uploads required :) its the beauty of apple!

  • sj660

    It’s not enabled in beta 1. Read the release notes before you freak out. #fail

  • Rob Sewell

    You guys who are trying to find fault can relax. Read about Apple’s wireless charging patents and life gets even less connected. Yes, your music is in the cloud without any (or few) uploads, the $25 is only for music you didn’t buy from iTunes, the autosync on charge is there if you want it, and not if your Mac is switched off, again that gives you a choice, and the feature is there in the latest iTunes and IOS 5, so no problems. What Apple are giving you here is options, options, options. With the new patent you’ll be able to get a charge from your coffee table at StarBucks (do you go there?) – if they choose, and free wi-fi to iCloud at the same time. Some are talking about cancer scares from wireless charging, however the frequencies involved in this technology have never caused problems before and you probably won’t be resting your head on the transmitter unlike using a phone. So, be positive, the future is bright, the future is easy, the future has choices. You have free will, so enjoy!

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About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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