Over-the-Air Updates & Other iOS Magic - Living in the Future

| Editorial

Apple released iOS 5.0.1 yesterday, mainly to address battery issues and add multi-touch gestures to the original iPad. The most remarkable feature of the update, though, had nothing to do with what it contained and everything to do with how it was delivered: the update was the first to be delivered and installed over the air (OTA), with no tethering to a computer (indeed, no computer at all) required.

Apple Magic

This is not new to Android users, but it was a welcome event for iOS users. Since I heard about the update on Twitter before my devices notified me, I didn’t get to see how the update might have announced itself (it at all.) Once I knew about it, though, it was a simple matter to go to Settings: General: Software Update, where my iPhone 4 — and, later, iPad 1 — dutifully notified me there was an update available. Both my devices were almost fully charged, so I ignored the warning about plugging into a power source, and the updates downloaded and installed without a hitch.

Another new update method got considerably less attention yesterday. Apple released version 7.6 of its Airport software. Just for fun, I fired up the new iOS Airport Utility on my iPad, and sure enough, the app informed me of the available update and allowed me to install it without having to go to my Mac at all.

I suppose the Airport update shouldn’t have seemed all that amazing — after all, it’s a remote update whether it’s done from the iPad or a Mac. But it was the one that gave me the bigger “living in the future” feeling. One that reinforced the notion that my iPhone and iPad are not just satellite device for my Mac. They are peers, and in more and more instances, provide a better experience than those “real” computers.


Ted Landau

Not an especially big deal, but…if you do an OTA update for your iOS device, there will be no copy of the firmware stored in the ~/Library/iTunes folder on your Mac.

Lee Dronick

Not an especially big deal, but?if you do an OTA update for your iOS device, there will be no copy of the firmware stored in the ~/Library/iTunes folder on your Mac.

I opted to update via iTunes because between my wife and I we have three iOS 5 devices.

Scott B in DC

I will consider using iCloud and the wireless updates when Apple makes it available under Snow Leopard. I need Rosetta and cannot upgrade.

Pashtun Wally

The cloud remains beyond me as long as I’m stuck with my first-gen MBP…where I will be until either I starve to death, or manage to get enough paying work that I have money left after feeding myself.

Maybe by then, Apple will have done something about the horrific mess that is the Apple ID.  Great idea.  Worst.  Execution.  EVER.


what on earth do you need Rosetta for? There are alternatives for everything nowadays

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