After reports started coming in yesterday that supplies were running low on AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule products in Apple Retail Stores, speculation began immediately about what advances new versions of those might bring. Now 9to5Mac has heard from sources that Apple has been testing new Time Capsule models internally that will download iOS software updates automatically and apply them to your devices wirelessly.
These rumors would jive with rumblings from early last month that Apple was in negotiations with Verizon to deliver wireless updates to iPhones over the network. Using local hardware would remove the congestion issue from the equation, allowing a Time Capsule to suck the appropriate update files for your device down over a WiFi or ethernet connection on your home network and apply them at a time of your choosing.
The framework for ‘Over-the-Air’ delivery of software updates is actually already built into iOS 4, it just needs to be fleshed out to get it working. Coupled with data syncing in the cloud, this would allow the iPhone to be freed completely from the computer, a prospect I’m very excited about.
Supposedly the way it works is that the new Time Capsule will ‘learn’ which devices you have when they connect to it. Then it would download only the necessary updates for your devices. This system is similar to the way that iOS devices can be updated and provisioned by OS X server in enterprise applications.
I’ve long held the opinion that it pisses Steve Jobs off that you have to connect iPhones and iPads to a computer to activate them with iTunes when you take them out of the box. Wireless activation using a Time Machine or iCloud account would be one way to get around this.
Regardless, I think that a computer-less iOS device experience is what Apple is shooting for in the future and they will be a lot closer to that with the release of iCloud. Updates coming from a Time Machine sounds like a reasonable component of a ‘no computer required’ iOS 5.