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Why I’m Nervous About OTA Syncing on iOS 5



So, it’s lunch time and I thought before I headed out to grab a bite that I would check to see if any podcasts I listened to had updated. I also thought I’d check to see if any iOS Apps had an update. Sure enough there were updates in both cases. The podcasts came in just fine. But as you can see from the picture the update for the TomTom App will take awhile. .

. There are some Apps that have quite a heavy footprint. TomTom’s GPS App pulls in maps and apparently that’s what this update is doing. But there are some games, like the very popular Infinity Blade, that are also quite large.

I know that Apple and many of its users are excited by over the air syncing (OTA) and OTA updates, and that Apple is suggesting that this happen overnight while your device is plugged in and on WiFi. That’s all well and good. Apple is also promising that we’ll see “delta” updates. I believe that means we’ll just get the new bits, not entirely new packages for OS updates. I’m not sure that will happen with Apps though, and in the case of the TomTom App where there is a big update, well, I think you see where this is going.

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But there are reports that this will work over 3G as well. If you’re not one of the few with a grandfathered “unlimited” plan, you could chew up some of your data cap pretty quickly if you’re not careful. In my case, this means adding another step to my pre-bed time routine. I typically  leave WiFi turned off on my iPhone. I find that popping in and out of hotspot notifications is more trouble than it is usually worth, and the 3G coverage here is pretty good wherever I am indoors or outdoors. So, it looks like I’ll have to change that habit, or at least get into a new one of making sure WiFi is turned on before I hit the pillow at night.

We’ve still got more details to hear about this down the road. But I can see the potential for some interesting issues ahead.




  1. RWM

    06/27/2011 at 5:36 pm

    First, by default, updates by 3G is disabled (there is a switch in setup to turn the feature on if you want).  Second, the over-the-air updates apple is talking about is for the OS and yes, it only updates the changed parts and does not download the entire OS (the GM of iOS 5 is released).  If you want to update your apps, you will still need to go to the app store and check for updates just like you do now.

  2. Josh Einstein

    06/28/2011 at 2:17 am

    I have the same concerns with iCloud. I like the idea of Dropbox-like sync supported everywhere but that means if I record a 200 MB video on my iPhone I’ll likely use 200 MB when it uploads to my photo stream and another 200 MB down when it syncs to my iPad. Hopefully there are sensible controls for this kinda thing.

  3. 本宮 ダーネル

    07/13/2011 at 12:08 am

    OTA applies to iOS ONLY, it will download only the changed parts of the iOS, therefore not deleting your songs or anything in the process, reboot may be required

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