Will Over-the-Air iOS Updates Render iTunes Irrelevant?

By  |  Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

Yesterday, there was news that Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” may be delivered through the Mac App Store. That may not be the only delivery method for updates that Apple may soon be changing. 9to5Mac reports that Verizon and Apple are working to bring over-the-air updates to iOS 5 after its release this fall.

The site’s sources could not confirm if the Cupertino company was working on a similar deal with AT&T.

Given that Android already does updates in this manner, the basic idea is nothing new. But it does take iTunes further out of the equation, long a necessary evil for iPhone owners (and now, iPadders too). Once updates come over-the-air, there’s almost no reason anymore to sync.

Music? Buy it from your phone. Downloading apps? They’ve been delivered that way. The only thing not done yet is backups — but with all Apple’s rumored work “in the cloud,” that might not be too far off either.

Indeed, when you update, iTunes does perform a backup: this likely means that some method would need to be settled upon just in case something goes wrong. Also, Apple would need to innovate a bit — most updates now are nearly a half-gigabyte. Those updates would have to become much, much smaller if the carriers are going to agree to this.

May this lead Apple to deliver more frequent, smaller updates? That’s a possible solution. Another is do it like its done with FaceTime: require a Wi-Fi connection.


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12 Comments For This Post

  1. @GrumpusNation Says:

    As maybe the only person in the universe known and unknown who doesn't share all the iTunes hate, I'd much prefer a means of syncing data & media over the air than iOS updates, for which a good, reliable backup on a local machine helps me sleep at night. Being able to set iOS downloads to automatic, much like "regular" software updates, so once a device is connected the update can run right away, would be nice. Perhaps iOS will become more modular, so each update doesn't essentially replace everything, so the soon-to-be-GB updates could be leaner 'n' meaner.

  2. Brandon Backlin Says:

    The large media library media sync I would prefer to be done at home; however, software updates being locked to iTunes does seem a bit archaic. How hard is it to push only the files in the firmware that change over the air? Most of the files in iOS are really small, so downloads would be super-quick.

  3. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Why don't they deliver O/S patch through auto update from Apple website? Very strange.

  4. Ed Oswald Says:

    You're confusing a point update with a full OS release if you're talking about Mac OS — no mechanism in auto update to charge people for the download. Not sure if I'm completely following?

  5. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Technically no different than a service pack. Just a naming convention. But, I get it now as Apple wants to charge for the equivalent of an MS Service pack. Thanks for clarifying it for me though.

  6. z57 Says:

    Where does it say Apple wants to charge?

  7. The_Heraclitus Says:

    See Ed's comment above mine…

  8. z57 Says:

    Please try rereading Eds comment.

    Apple does not charge for updates to their iOS. Nor will they. They also do not charge for upgrading versions/major updates (ie from 1.x to 2.x).

    As an aside – At one time they charged a fee to iPod Touch (never iPhone) users for upgrading versions. This fee was required due to a complicated GAAP accounting system that Apple has since moved away from when counting iPod Touch sales. Reporting requirements for GAAP have since been changed by government regulators and because of this are Apple is not required to charge a fee…

    Apple also does not charge a fee for OS X updates and revisions ie 10.6.x. They do charge to upgrade the OS from Leopard to Snow Leopard (10.5 to to 10.6) and will probably charge for upgrading to Lion (10.7). This is like XP, Vista and 7.

  9. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Tell that to Ed, not me. I'm sure he has a site email.

  10. The_Heraclitus Says:

    "They do charge to upgrade the OS from Leopard to Snow Leopard (10.5 to to 10.6) and will probably charge for upgrading to Lion (10.7)."

    Technically, that is the same as a major service pack in MS. So, as I said. Thanks for proving my point.

  11. biggles1000 Says:

    Updating iOS wirelessly would be awesome. I haven’t used iTunes for 6 months now, using DiskAid, the VLC app and the FileApp Pro app to avoid it. Sure, I don’t get to add stuff to ‘Music’ and ‘Videos’, but it is a lot faster as I currently only have a windows 7 laptop with 512MB RAM. Also, the last computer I synced my iPod with died, so iTunes demands that I wipe my iPod, which would result in a huge loss of saved data from all my apps. Backing it up in iTunes doesn’t work because: a) it can only be backed up to C:, which is only 40GB. My iPod is 64GB (nearly all used), and b) if i restore the backup, it will still demand I wipe it.

  12. iPhone gloves Says:

    in most country ISS charges too much for data flow,so it is impossible for people living in these area to update throught OTA until free WIFI is avaible