Apple releases iOS 5 Beta 4, enables over-the-air updates

Apple releases iOS 5 Beta 4, enables over-the-air updates

Apple has today released the fourth version of its iOS 5 beta to developers. The new version should offer some stability improvements and bug fixes.

In addition to iOS 5 beta 4, Apple has also released iTunes 10.5 beta 4 and Xcode 4.2 beta 4.

The biggest news here seems to be that Apple has enabled OTA updates as it refers to issues related to the process of updating iOS 5 b3 to iOS 5 b4 over the air.

Here’s what the OTA update process looks like:

Here is the same dialog in progress on an iPad, along with the final stages of the update being applied:

You’ll note that the update is only 133mb. This is significantly smaller than the 823mb of the full-size update available from Apple’s developer site. This is due to the fact that the OTA updates only download new or altered code, patching the existing software. These types of updates are called ‘Delta’ updates and are popular on mobile devices because of the reduced amount of data transfer.

The other major change is that applications that receive notifications and deliver them to the Notification Center will now clear those notifications when the app’s notifications are read. This means that if you clear off your badge or read the messages inside the app, the notifications will disappear from Notification Center. Previously they had to be cleared manually. This is a huge step up.

Apple has also added a menu option dedicated to documents in iCloud in this release. While the service has been available for envelopers to test in all releases of the iOS 5 beta, the menu options to op in or out of the service are new.

As has been the case with the last 3 releases of iOS 5 and iTunes 10.5 beta, you will not be able make backups of iPhones running iOS 5 Beta 3 or earlier with the new iTunes beta. Apple recommends that you make a backup first, upgrade to iTunes 10.5 b4, then restore. You may get a connection error but the  restore will still complete.

There are issues forwarding email messages with attachments in this release. You may also experience the loss of album art if you alter your music library via syncing to your computer.

The Personal Hotspot feature of the iPhone 4 will not work on iOS 5 b4.

Wireless syncing to iTunes is now available to Windows users on iOS 5 b4 and iTunes 10.5 b4.

The iOS 5 beta is available for download now on the Apple Developer site. Note that Apple requires that you have a developer account and a device registered on the site in order to download and install iOS 5.

iOS 5 is the next major revision to Apple’s software for iPhone, iPod, Apple TV and iPad devices. The new OS is slated for release in the fall of this year. You can see our complete rundown of the iOS announcements at WWDC here. We’ve also got a closer look at some of the features of iOS like iMessagesTwitterSetup and Notification CenteriCloud and alerts.

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