Apple iOS 5 Could Deliver Over-the-Air Updates to iPhones: Report

Apple's iOS 5 may be capable of receiving over-the-air updates for both AT&T and Verizon iPhones, according to a new report.

Apple could deliver future updates to iOS 5 devices over the air, according to a new blog report.

According to Apple-centric blog 9to5Mac, which cites "multiple sources," the next version of Apple's mobile operating system will feature over-the-air iOS updates. Both Verizon and AT&T are reportedly "in talks" over how this would work, since both carry the iPhone in the United States.

The blog also points out that Apple will need to shrink the size of the software updates, currently topping 600MB, in order to bring the carriers onboard. "We believe that Apple will make the updates much smaller by using incremental patches rather than full OS downloads." The over-the-air systems might also need cloud backups in case of a failed update.

Reports suggest that Apple could delay the next iPhone until later in 2011 or beyond. On May 4, the blog MacRumors cited an unnamed reader who "received word from an AT&T care representative" that Apple's next smartphone won't be released in the next few months.

"Apple has informed us that they do not plan to release the iPhone in the June to July timeframe," the blog quotes the AT&T agent as telling its source, "though there will be a newer version in the future. Unfortunately, we have not been given a release time for a new phone."

The blog treats that information with some skepticism. However, the rumor does dovetail neatly with earlier reports that Apple intends to push both the iPhone 5 until later, which would represent a radical adjustment from the company's usual habit of releasing the latest version of the smartphone every summer.

Current rumors suggest the iPhone 5 will feature higher-resolution cameras, Apple's A5 proprietary processor, hardware upgraded to enable 3G FaceTime video conferencing, and NFC (near-field communication) technology that would allow the smartphone to act as an electronic wallet. In theory, such additions-married to the iOS 5-would allow Apple to more effectively combat the growing legions of increasingly technologically advanced Android devices.

Apple will most likely provide a glimpse of iOS 5 at June's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, even if it ultimately delays the operating system's release until later in 2011. In the meantime, Apple is still updating iOS 4, including a new tweak designed to fix the location-tracking "bug" that recently caused the company so much controversy.

"This update contains changes to the iOS crowd-sourced location database cache," reads an explanation posted on Apple's iTunes service along with the update to iOS 4.3.3. The changes include a reduction in the size of the cache, total deletion of the cache whenever Location Services are turned off, and stopping the cache from backing up to iTunes. The update applies to iOS 4 devices on both the AT&T and Verizon networks.