Apple is reportedly working closely with Verizon Wireless to introduce over-the-air software updates to the iPhone with its iOS 5 firmware. Starting this fall, iPhone users will be able to update their iOS software wirelessly, without having to plug the device into iTunes, or involve a computer altogether. It’s a luxury Google Android and Palm webOS users have been enjoying for some time, and Apple’s finally bringing it to iOS.
Multiple sources for 9to5Mac have revealed the feature will debut with iOS 5 and will support subsequent iOS releases. Apparently, Apple already has the technology, but doesn’t want to release it to the masses all at once. It will therefore be available only to Verizon customers initially.
Sources were unable to confirm whether or not Apple is planning a similar feature with AT&T or international iPhone carriers, though we’d assume it will eventually be rolled out to everyone.
Over-the-air iOS updates are already working well for the Apple TV, but this is obviously a Wi-Fi only device. In order to make the feature available to devices that can download data through a wireless carrier, Apple may need to negotiate deals with individual carriers.
9to5 Mac noted two things the feature could mean for future iOS releases:
1. Updates are now over 600MB. Apple would have to make these smaller to get the carriers to agree to push these things as they are. We believe that Apple will make the updates much smaller by using incremental patches rather than full OS downloads
2. iTunes provides the backup to the iOS device so a failed update would need some sort of backup. We think there will be a Cloud-based backup system.
There’s no denying over-the-air iOS updates would be a handy feature, especially to those who don’t use iTunes or a computer very often. However, I’d prefer to get over-the-air syncing first.