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.