Word has it that Apple and Verizon have been in talks for months about enabling OTA (over-the-air) software updates on the CDMA iPhone, and the latest rumor pegs Apple as prepping it for a fall launch. If true, that would mean iOS firmware releases would be available for download right onto the handset. Imagine it: No more launching iTunes or searching behind your desk for that fallen sync cable. (And hey — if you have a battery pack, charge case or a PowerMat-type product, you wouldn’t even need it for charging.)
But why is the rumor centering on one carrier only? Well, that just happens to be where the myriad of tipsters hail from. It doesn’t mean AT&T or others worldwide won’t get it too. In fact, Apple doesn’t like fragmented iOS versions, so chances are good that the functionality will be there for all, at least software-wise. Unfortunately, it’s also likely that it will be up to the carriers to decide whether to enable it or not. Given that Verizon is a notable carrier for both Android and WebOS — both of which have long offered OTA updates — it should surprise no one that the company would be willing step up to the plate.
Here’s the thing, though: iOS 4.3.3 was 666.2MB in size. That’s huge, in terms of OTA downloads, at least over cellular. So popular opinion is that, if Apple unleashes this functionality at all, it must whack down that file size (or at least break it up in incremental updates). There’s also the lack of back-up process to address. If you never hook it up to iTunes, backing up your data and apps will have to happen another way — say, like over the cloud.
(Hmmm — I’m suddenly wondering if enabling this on AT&T isn’t such a hot idea after all. Between OTA firmware and possible iTunes cloud back-ups, you’ve got to wonder how all this might impact those pesky data caps.)
As for other devices, like the iPod Touch and iPad, it would be surprising for Apple to fragment iOS by leaving them out as well. And thanks to AppleTV, we know that iOS has the broad chops to handle iTunes-less updates, so it should be a no-brainer.
We’ll find out this fall. The new functionality is expected to roll out at some point in iOS 5 — probably not in 5.0, but more like 5.1, 5.2 or thereafter.
Are you an iOS user? Does the prospect of ditching the cable (or at least hooking it up less often) appeal to you? Or would you shy away from it due to data use or another reason?