Most of you should be pretty familiar with the iOS update process by now. For anyone who needs a refresher, it’s quite easy. You simply plug your iDevice into a USB port on your computer, and initiate the update through iTunes.

Although Apple’s current method is fairly straight forward, competitors such as Google offer a more direct way for customers to get the latest software for their Android devices. I’ll admit OTA (Over the Air) updates are convenient, but are they really the best way to deploy updates?

According to 9to5Mac, Apple has been in talks with Verizon regarding wireless updates. Instead of users having to plug their iPhones into computers to update iOS, they will simply need to authorize the update from their handsets.

Although this feature is expected to appear in iOS 5, 9to5Mac claims that that there isn’t any word on whether Apple has been in similar talks with AT&T.

Mobile platforms such as RIM and Android have been using the OTA update method for quite some time, but it doesn’t come without its downfalls. Devices must have a good charge and be in an area with a good internet connection before attempting a wireless update. Any kind of interruption in the download can cause severe problems with a mobile OS.

The Apple TV currently offers an update method that doesn’t involve plugging the device into the computer, but with no 3G connectivity, you’re usually guaranteed a solid Wi-Fi connection for the download. In order for Apple to make OTA updates available to the iPhone, you would think they need to shrink down the update’s file size.

Currently, iOS firmware sits close to 700MB. I can’t imagine wireless carriers would approve pushing out a file to every device, nearly a gigabyte in size, every time Apple releases a new update. 9to5Mac notes that Apple could possibly start making updates much smaller by releasing incremental patches rather than full IPSW files.

I’ve personally had bad experiences with OTA updates on previous work phones. I had a Motorola Droid X rendered completely useless by a failed wireless update, so I am skeptical to say the least. This is Apple we are talking about though, and I don’t think they would stand for such imperfections. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Are you excited about OTA updates? Could this change the landscape of jailbreaking?

  • No thanks, I’ll pass.

    • Manuel

      Pass

    • mripod64

      Annnnnnnd that should ring any bells?

      Personally i wouldn’t mind it, cause it does take a while for iOS updates to download.

    • Colten

      Who Kevin Nash?

    • The Real Kevin Nash

      Kevin… See me in the ring and prove it!

  • Joeyjojo

    If apple do over the air updates, surely they would think to allow the device to download the whole update to a location first and only when the full 100% of the update os downloaded would it initiate the update. I must admit, a patch would be better. I’m up for it but only if they do updates like that. Hopefully the updates when they happen will not stop a jailbreak from working, I have apps I need for work. Lol

  • Joeyjojo

    If apple do over the air updates, surely they would think to allow the device to download the whole update to a location first and only when the full 100% of the update os downloaded would it initiate the update. I must admit, a patch would be better. I’m up for it but only if they do updates like that. Hopefully the updates when they happen will not stop a jailbreak from working, I have apps I need for work.

  • JoBerlin

    I’ll pass. 700MB over 3G would take longer than than getting back to my Mac. Anyway I always waited patiently for PwnageTool and there was no update that was that important to get it the second it was released.

  • Jason Masters

    Who’s kevin Nash lol?

    • mripod64

      He is apparently a wrestler according to Wikipedia….not that we really care about that here 😛 lol

  • Juan

    at least the option will be offered for those who want it. when updating firmware, I prefer a wired connection to the device. I don’t mind the iTunes download. takes 20 mins or so.

  • Pilky1986

    This has been happening to me since i upgraded to 4.2.1! I assumed that having the 1.59 baseband was causing it.. Everytime i open the “about” menu in settings and close it i get the notification. Im in the uk on tesco mobile which uses the o2 network.

  • Binary-Stalker

    Not happening.

    If it happens, I hope Apple would have an option to turn it off.

    It’s likely to require an update to gain such a feature, though.

  • Alec Nissel

    I think it would have to be refined and less risky.
    AND YES I AM THE ALEC NISSEL WHO PLAYS BASEBALL FROM FLORIDA

    • I think it’s a bad idea ANd YES I AM THE JASON MASTERS THAT PISSES PEOPLE OFF IN BLOGS!

      • Alec Nissel

        iDB needs to get a “like” button for comments, or something of that nature…

  • Daniel

    Well personally I would love OTA syncing as I will be working in Singapre for the next three months and my main pc is too big to take with me.

  • Pete

    It could work well if designed well. Incremental update would be a must – doubt more than 10-20% of the system changes between iOS versions (anybody up for an exercise? 😉

  • 600MB OTA update, oh no

  • what’s up it’s justin yo! Would hate to see this happen LEGGO!! and NEVER SAY NEVER!

  • THECHINAIDBFANCLUB

    那应该去死吧

  • Almostfamous

    What happens to jailbroken phones once they get ota updates? Is it like how it is now where you lose the jailbreak and have to wait for someone release a jailbreak and can be sometimes months…

  • Roberta K

    My MIL wants an iPad as her primary computer…which means when there’s an update I’ll have to download & install it for her. Just for that reason I’d love to see over-air iOS updates.

  • Marc

    One: I’m hoping that by the time this happens, if it does, it won’t be acknowledged in that blue notification square anymore lol. Two: I’d assume that this wouldn’t happen till Apple goes 4G with the carriers. I also like the idea someone else mentioned about having it download in full somehwere or something and then not try to install until it’s fully ready.

  • Hussein

    Couple of things to point out.

    You mentioned all the bad sides of OTA updates but the current wired update is far from perfect. Last spring something failed during the install process on my 3GS and not even putting it in DFU mode could fix it, Genius guys couldn’t do anything either. I got a replacement handset from Apple but the inconvenience was insurmountable.

    Having said that, I dispise the idea of incremental patch updates. It’s very useful having full IPSW ‘clean slates’ as they usually solve small niggles that accumulate over time.

    Do I think the current update process is outdated and un-intuitive, requiring a great deal of user intervention? Yes, I do. And it is characteristically un-Apple. But updates should only be migrated to an OTA model if done right.

    I think wireless syncing is more of a priority, at any rate. No one really minds connecting their iOS devices to their computers once every few months for new features and bug fixes, but having to connect them every time we want to add a song or back up apps is cumbersome to say the least.

  • Hussein

    Couple of things to point out.

    You mentioned all the bad sides of OTA updates but the current wired update is far from perfect. Last spring something failed during the install process on my 3GS and not even putting it in DFU mode could fix it, Genius guys couldn’t do anything either. I got a replacement handset from Apple but the inconvenience was insurmountable.

    Having said that, I dispise the idea of incremental patch updates. It’s very useful having full IPSW ‘clean slates’ as they usually solve small niggles that accumulate over time.

    Do I think the current update process is outdated and un-intuitive, requiring a great deal of user intervention? Yes, I do. And it is characteristically un-Apple. But updates should only be migrated to an OTA model if done right.

  • Hussein

    I think wireless syncing is more of a priority. No one really minds connecting their iOS devices to their computers once every few months for new features and bug fixes, but having to connect them every time we want to add a song or back up apps is cumbersome to say the least.

  • gefdue

    Guys OTA reduces the update size. This is 1 thing Nokia does better (as of now)… For Nokia 5800, the update size was ~150MB for wired update but same OTA update was just ~20 MB…….. Hope it happens with iphone too…………

  • Bill

    Why not force you to a wifi connection to do the update OTA. You can’t download apps over a certain size on 3G so this would work the same way. If you want to update OTA be on wifi and if not, update the old fashioned way. Apple needs this. iTunes software is the biggest POS so the less I have to use it the better.

  • Ricardodelsidney

    OTA? Seriously?

    No Way! There are many BAD things that could happen.

  • Daniel CG

    If Apple does do OTA firmware updates, I’d like an option to turn it off out-of-the-box because I jailbreak and occasionally tap the “Yes” button when I’m in a hurry and meant “No”. It would be a tragedy to update without backing up my data first :O

    AND YES I AM THE REAL DANIEL WHO COMMENTS ON iDB

  • Ben Seagal

    You can look at Red Bend website, the market leader in Firmware Over The Air , they already installed more than a billion FOTA client and their track record is excellent ( not inside the Droid X..).
    One of the main advantages of FOTA is the ability to reduce the delivered file to about 5% of the original size and the fault-tolerance from battery and communication problems.