iOS 5.1: Over the Air Software Updates

| TMO Quick Tip

Updating the operating system on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch has always been fairly straight forward: Wait for the update to come out, then connect your device to your computer and let iTunes handle the installation. With iOS 5 and 5.1, however, you can install those new system updates without ever getting your i-device near your computer.

Here’s how to install an iOS update on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch using iOS 5’s over-the-air update feature:

  • Tap Settings.
  • Tap General.
  • Tap Software Update.
  • If an update is available, you’ll see a list showing what’s new. Tap Download and Install.

iOS 5 lets you update the OS without needing iTunesiOS 5 lets you update the OS without needing iTunes

Be sure you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network with Internet access when installing OS updates, and make sure your battery has a reasonable charge so it doesn’t conk out part way through the installation process because the iOS 5.1 update weighs in at almost 200MB.

The over-the-air update feature is especially handy with the iOS 5.1 update because it’s proving to be a more reliable way to get iPhones and iPads up to the latest operating system for many people. It also cuts down the reliance on a desktop or laptop computer, which fits well with Apple’s efforts to make the iPhone and iPad stand-alone devices.



Funny, but when I tried to install the update on my wifes 3GS over wifi, it wouldn’t work. I had to enable my data connection. I am new to iPhones, but this seemed not to make sense since it worked fine on my kids iPad over wifi.

Perhaps I am missing some knowledge.


You forgot the first step - wait three days until the servers can handle your request.


So so much easier than connecting to iTunes. Upgraded all family devices last night: 2 iPod Touches, 2 iPhones, 2 iPads, 1 Apple TV and not a hitch to whine about : )



Why would it install fine over wifi right away for an iPad, then not install over wifi in 10 or so tries, then immediately install when I switched my data on?

Didn’t seem to be an issue that the servers were having a problem processing the request. It seemed more like something wasn’t playing nicely with wifi in particular.

Anyhow. I just found it very strange.
Perhaps you are right though.


Sorry paikinho, I meant that Jeff (the author) forgot a step.  It took me three days before the wifi download would work on just one of my devices.  I still have three others to upgrade (one more iPad, two iPod touches).  I think it’s server overload and it’s just now lightening up.  That’s just my opinion though.


On a semi related note, has anyone been able to download iTunes 10.6 ?


On a semi related note, has anyone been able to download iTunes 10.6 ?

I was finally able to get it about 4am (CST) this morning.  All I can say is to keep trying.

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