iOS 5 To Introduce Over-The-Air Updates For iPhone, iPad, iPod touch?

If there is one area where Apple’s iOS still lags behind Google’s Android, it’s in the software updating process. As things stand today, eager updaters must first be informed that an update is available and then run off to plug their iDevice into a computer for iTunes to work its magic. Contrast this with the painless over-the-air nature of Android’s updates and it’s clear to see where Apple needs to be focusing its energy right now.

According to a report by 9to5Mac, Apple could be doing just that. Their source claims Apple has been in talks with American carrier Verizon since the beginning of 2011 over the possibility of providing updates without the need to tether the hardware to a computer. Unfortunately there was no comment on whether the discussions extended to either AT&T or other carriers worldwide. Why do carriers need to be involved? Because as things stand, iOS updates weigh in at a hefty 600+MB an update. Carriers won’t be keen on customers pulling that kind of data through their network – probably all at once unless on a WiFi network.

The way around that is for Apple to change the way its updates work. Currently the whole iOS image is downloaded and flashed, whereas Android for example just downloads the changes meaning the file sizes are infinitesimal compared to iOS.

9to5Mac’s source speculates the new update system could go live in iOS 5, with subsequent updates being available OTA. With a new notification system and cloud syncing already high on the request list for iOS 5, we’re hoping a whole new update procedure isn’t too much to ask for too!

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