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Apple revamps AirPort Utility with iOS-style cues

updated 06:35 pm EST, Mon January 30, 2012

Apple Airport Utility 6 looks like iOS version

Apple took a surprise step Monday by completely reworking its desktop AirPort app. AirPort Utility 6.0 (14.1MB) is reworked to look like its iOS counterpart and starts off with a visual topography for the user's network including the active status and whether or not updates are waiting. Any router on the network, and the Internet connection itself, gets a pop-over that shows both common settings as well as an option to edit settings for that device.

In a quick test, we found that it wasn't significantly more advanced than the old utility, but it looks to be easier to understand for newcomers who might not be familiar with how a router relates to the network. We like that there are minor touches: if a light is blinking on a router, it blinks in the app, and firmware updates have an iOS-style progress bar.

The app requires Mac OS X Lion.

Along with the main desktop app, Apple has also posted a 7.6.1 firmware update for AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and Time Capsule routers (download). The fix touches on wireless speed issues as well as remote access to AirPort or Time Capsule drives using iCloud. Those using Lion but who don't want 6.0 can also update to AirPort Utility 5.6 (13.1MB) to resolve a problem with network passwords used in the Keychain as well as backwards support for 802.11g-maximum AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express routers.

By Electronista Staff


  1. mherbson

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2005


    Mixed network dicey

    I have an AirPort network with a Time Capsule and an older, but still fully functional, AirPort Express that does 802.11 b/g only. My Time Capsule creates an 802.11b/g network along with an 802.11n network so I can extend the range across my residence with a WDS. The new AirPort Utility cannot manage the older AirPort Express, so to handle any of the WDS related stuff or to manage the Express, I have to run the separate AirPort Utility 5.6: yes, I have to run two AirPort Utility applications to handle my two-device network.

    Apple can do better.

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    Apple is trying to tell

    consumers that are running old stuff to update to something newer. Awww...

  1. chas_m



    A good example

    of where using iOS style in Mac OS X works well.

    And yes, they ARE trying to tell consumers running older stuff to move to newer standards (802.11n). The difference is they are not FORCING you to do this, but given the blossoming benefits of 802.11n it does in fact make sense to pass those older Airport Expresses down to the kids or poor relations and upgrade if you haven't already.

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    I like the picture

    You are taking the concept of "screenshot" to a whole new level. :)

  1. aMackUzer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2006


    Airport Utility v6.0 has subset capabilities

    I also have a network containing older Airport Express "g" units and newer "n" units so updated to (both) Airport Utility v5.6 and v6.0. If you cross-check, you'll find, at least on a current model Airport Express ("n" version), that Airport Utility v6.0 provides access to only a subset of the setup/capabilities that Airport Utility v5.6 provides. I didn't notice this mentioned anywhere, but it's actually quite important. In fact, the update web-pages seem to imply that v5.6 was only for older units that 6.0 didn't handle. In fact, it works for both (at least in the case of Airport Express units). Given some of the things that can't ba accessed/configured via 6.0 (e.g., time server setup, unit location, transmit-strength setting, logs, etc.), it seems that you'll need both.

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