back to article iOS 5 said to sport over-the-air update facility

Apple's iOS 5 will support over-the-air firmware updates, it has been claimed. So say "multiple sources" - none named, mind - who've spoken to 9to5 Mac. Once iOS 5.0 has been installed on devices using the customary method based on iTunes, iOS 5.0.1 or whatever comes next will be pushed direct to handsets. Presumably punters …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As usual

    Welcome to several years ago, Apple. I don't even remember the last phone I had which wasn't happy to update itself OTA.

    Bet they'll trumpet it as a new thing, and the fanbois will bleat about how innovative Apple are, while the rest of us just go "oh, you didn't have that already? how quaint."

    I welcome your downvotes.

    1. DrXym

      Perhaps they're getting a clue

      iTunes is bloatware and an enormous millstone for people who (reasonably) expect to be able to use a device without tethering it to a PC to do anything except transfer files. Who knows, perhaps this is baby steps towards Apple making iTunes completely optional and eventually superfluous.

      I can't think much reason it has to stay around these days - the phone should be able to handle things like downloads & purchases for itself, and the cloud can do the rest. Of course cloud based computing has its own issues for privacy and price. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple try and reposition iTunes as a cloud proxy.

      1. Ilgaz

        iTunes will stay

        iTunes and the idea of having to plug your device to a PC/Mac is the basis of entire control/rip/unofficial media monopoly model of Apple. For example, you can use a Nokia smart phone or even a good dumb phone without plugging it to PC for all its life even including purchasing/downloading original music. There is absolutely no reason other than convinience and/or greedy operator to plug a Nokia to PC. On an iPod, without gsm/3g connectivity (there goes operator excuse), you can't even download freely available podcasts. Why? Think about it.

        Also, they really code very badly on Windows, they don't respect to the very basic development model of Windows and they code like UNIX, that is where the problem begins. If you code for Windows, code like Windows.

        Man this was a real "thumbs down" suicide ;)

        1. GrahamS

          Haterz gonna...

          > "On an iPod, without gsm/3g connectivity (there goes operator excuse), you can't even download freely available podcasts. Why? Think about it."

          My God you're right - clearly Apple are abusing their monopoly and somehow making money by supplying iTunes for free and forcing you to use it for free to download free podcasts (unless of course you use on of the free podcast apps instead of course).

          > "There is absolutely no reason .."

          There is.

          Apple's approach is to do things Apple's "one true way" in their own closed systems.

          Which is why so many people hate them - but removing those external factors is a massive part of their overall attempt to simplify tech and make things that "just work".

          You might not like that approach. Many don't. But that kind of closed approach is the reason my old mum can work her iPhone but not her TV remote.

        2. Chris 3


          "On an iPod, without gsm/3g connectivity (there goes operator excuse), you can't even download freely available podcasts. Why? Think about it."

          I've thought about and decided that since I *can* download free podcasts on my iPod using WiFi, you're just making stuff up.

          Does your Nokia dumb phone accept over-the-air firmware upgrades then?

    2. Campbeltonian

      This almost never happens

      "Bet they'll trumpet it as a new thing"

      This almost never happens. In fact, sometimes Apple acknowledge that they've been left behind.

      Usually, when you read an Apple hater's comment complaining that Apple is claiming to have invented something that was already commonplace, that comment has no basis in fact. It was made up. Other times, they're reacting to the media reaction rather than what Apple themselves are saying.

      1. g e

        Oh they'll claim they INVENTED it

        no doubt their Pavlovian userbase will believe it too

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Pavlovian, yes, good answer

          We all operate on conditioned habit for the trivial and mundane tasks in life. Saving our higher conscious mind for the less repetitive tasks which require analysis. So you have hit the nail on the head.Apple's success is in understanding you have to provide tools which integrate with habit and place as little demand on higher cognitive function as possible. The tool fades into the background like the ticking of a clock, enabling you to simply accomplish the task you wish to accomplish. This is why Apple fans are indeed Pavlovian. The only problem with your argument is you are equally as Pavlovian as me as me. We are all creatures of habit. Habitual conditioning allows us to apply our mind less to repetitive simple tasks and more to the kind of complex tasks which require analysis. The real difference isn't that Apple users are Pavlovian and others are not. It's that some people actually like tools which require application of the higher mind and don't mind having to think about the tools they use because they enjoy the attention the tools require as much as actually getting things done (Apple users tend not to be in this camp). But let's face it, that's often what psychologists refer to as busyness (not to be confused with business) e.g. the tendency to attend to tasks which occupy the mind but don't actually make us more productive. Though, not always, also it can be a symptom of someone who wants a more intricate tool for a more specialist task and values ease of use less than that it helps them with their specialist requirement. I know you were only being disparaging and aren't as clever as you think you are, but you really have hit the nail on the head. I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day.

      2. Dinky Carter

        Apple's misleading claims


        "People have been dreaming about video calling for decades. iPhone 4 makes it a reality. "

        As we all know, phones that could make video calls had been around for years before the iPhone 4 "made it a reality."

        Is this not deliberately misleading? (aka blatant lie)

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Apple's misleading claims, explained

          "People have been dreaming about video calling for decades. iPhone 4 makes it a reality."

          Apple have defined *a* reality, not *the* reality. And in Apple's reality, phones can now make video calls; in your reality, other phones may well have been doing this a for a while.

          Much better now.

        2. Ilgaz

          I pity the entire industry

          They managed to gather, all rivals and networks and came up with 3G video telephony standard. They also managed to stop companies doing stupid stuff like "super enhanced video only between nokias". It is an amazing accomplishment to manage.

          Now a company comes up with a complete monopolistic, single brand only solution and there isn't a single word from the industry or anyone who would whine "standards" if any other company did it.

          I hate Google guys but their chat/video/talk team did a real heroic job tying everything to open standards, XMPP to begin with. We see who wins. Even Skype begun to lose entire mobile scene with their stupid "we code the clients" new policy.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Boilerplate bollocks.

      Yawn. Next...

    4. ThomH


      Your comment is disproved by trivial research. From the Apple-specific websites that have reported the rumour:

      9to5mac, from where the story originates: "Apple has long used the proxy of iTunes to push updates to its iOS devices ... Smartphone competitors have long offered a different, more direct method for software updates that happens over-the-air."

      Mac Rumors headline: "iOS 5 to Finally Deliver Over-The-Air Updates?"

      MacWorld: "Other smartphone operating systems such as Android can be updated over-the-air,"

      GigaOm: "Smaller, incremental updates like those served to Android might be the way to go, but that would require a significant change in the way Apple approaches updates "

  2. Kyoraki
    Gates Halo

    Welcome to 2009, Apple.

    It wouldn't be the first time Apple have pushed out a standard feature as something 'new'. A welcome break away from iTunes though. All Apple needs to do now is re-brand the Mac App store as the Apple App store, and shift iOS apps onto that platrform, which makes much more sense.

    1. ThomH


      While the Mac App Store almost surprises by being quick and snappy (though it shouldn't; this is just comparing it to iTunes), it is as the name suggests Mac only. So the Windows people, for whom iTunes performs about a thousand times worse still, would be left out.

      That said, the handset itself has a pretty good client — maybe leave iTunes to back up and possibly to organise, but otherwise keep itself out of the software side of any of Apple's network connected devices? If ever an application could do with having its functionality pruned, it's iTunes.

  3. david willis
    Black Helicopters

    Black Helicopters

    So when will OTA stop being the "recommended" update method and start being the "required" update method. Will be a kick in the gonads to the jailbreakers.

  4. GrahamS

    Not sure I want this

    Sure hooking up to iTunes to update is a bit of a pain - BUT its big advantage is that your entire phone contents are safely backed up should anything go horribly pear-shaped with the update.

    And that's useful. I had an update completely brick my iPhone about a year ago.

    Quick trip to the local Apple Store, who replaced it on the spot with a brand new one, then back home, plugged it into iTunes which completely restored it from the backup.

    Result: shiny new phone with EXACTLY the same contents as the old one.

    So unless this OTA update offers some way to backup (and I'm not sure it can) then I'll be sticking to tethered updates thanks.

    1. Annihilator


      "And that's useful. I had an update completely brick my iPhone about a year ago."

      Many, many people experienced this or a subset of this on upgrading to iOS 3.x as I recall. Didn't brick it, but lost all the data. Had three friends email out after upgrading to say "lost all my contacts when updating iPhone, please email me your number". I pointed out they'd probably backed it up inadvertently and got a lot of gratutude in my direction (though one poor sap had always cancelled the backup process).

      Has happened to me on 3 occasions (turned out to be a dodgy USB cable causing it) and the restore helped every time!

  5. Simbu
    Thumb Down

    Small patch?

    No Apple iOS update i've ever downloaded has been a small patch. They've always been 600MB+ behemoths. Unless Apple discover how to efficiently patch iOS i will be sticking to an iTunes-induced patch, thanks. Which will also backup my phone's data to my computer prior to it being updated. I don't fancy a "MobileMe" backup of my handset to the cloud prior to iOS update. I'd be there all week!

  6. Anonymous Coward

    This is awsome

    I look forward to O2 seamlessly sending out 600Mb updates to all its millions of customers. Hell, they can't even deliver texts on time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      There is a restriction on the size of file that can be downloaded from the App and iTunes store onto the handset over 3G. I can almost guarantee you that the same will apply for OTA updates. I doubt it'd be a telco issuing the update either, that's (thankfully) not Apple's MO. I suppose that doesn't fit you "comedic" polemic though.

  7. Ilgaz

    Check a friend's dumb Nokia S40

    Almost all Nokia S40 phones comes with OTA firmware updates even with an option to check monthly as default. I haven't heard a single S40 update went wrong either. We speak about 500M devices here, we would sure hear smallest single glitch.

    This is nothing more than anti jailbreak very fast action.

  8. Gadget Rage is BAD


    Try READING next time before ranting. The article explains to you, in words, in English that they already have that ability, its just not used on the iPhone yet. "Apple already has this technology in place in iOS: it's how the iOS-based second-generation Apple TV updates itself."

  9. JeffyPooh

    Why are Apple so slow to stop being stupid?

    "As it stands, a small tweak to the OS... ...involves the entire OS being swapped out when all that may have changed is a few kilobytes of code. "

    1. Ilgaz

      Don't forget they use UNIX model too

      The basic reason that people can easily update their iOS devices is the UNIX model of doing things.

      Everything is in their place, especially with app store model. So, user data is absolutely in seperate place and caches are also in that folder, which can be easily ignored.

      So, update process does download that gigantic file to itunes, asks Apple "serial nr is this, user is signed on, no mysterious process running. Should I go on?". Backs up the /Users (that is the only thing), likely ignores /Caches, puts that entire gigantic image to device telling it to program rom. Puts users back to place.

      Same process could easily ask for patch between certain versions (games do it for decades), use standard diff like app to create new image and verify the result with Apple and do the drm thing.

      You know what? They wasted petabytes of bandwidth (and users) for a single thing. Not to allow unencyripted os image to be stored in a real pc/mac.

  10. Neoc

    Worse-than-useless update methodology.

    Explain something to me. My wife and I have an iPad. My wife likes hers so much, she went out and got a Mac laptop to be able to use the iOS SDK to write stuff for her iPad.


    Why is it that iTunes (or its Mac laptop ilk) can pause, stop and restart iTunes/AppStore downloads, but if something happens during the download of the iPad firmware (or the SDK, as we've found out 3/4 of the way through the 4Gb download) you have to start the download *from the beginning again*?

    Small apps download have the ability to restart, but apparently 600Mb/4Gb downloads don't need it? Stupid.

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