updated 01:10 am EDT, Sat June 4, 2011
iTunes reveals Automatic Download for apps
Apple gave a possible clue to an iOS 5 feature with a mention of automatic app syncing in iTunes. A check of the app updates page by Marcelo Alves showed that a device can be enabled for Automatic Download to get both purchased apps and updates directly, without having to link up to iTunes. No feature of the kind exists in iOS 4.3, leading MacRumors to suggest the notice (since pulled) was a clue as to what was in store at WWDC.
"Or if your device has Automatic Download enabled for apps, your updates will download to your device without having to sync," the blurb said.
The feature doesn't equate to over-the-air updates to the firmware itself, which would let users keep iOS devices independent of a computer. It does support Apple moving towards OTA upgrading and would still catch up to some platforms. At least some HTC Android devices can automatically get apps on a new device, for example.
Emerging details point to Apple making cross-device sync a staple feature of not just iOS 5 but devices interacting with it. Multiple rumors persist of Time Capsules with iOS update caching that would keep an update accessible without needing a computer. Storage at the router would have little point if the devices couldn't be updated directly.