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iOS 5 said to sport over-the-air update facility

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Apple's iOS 5 will support over-the-air firmware updates, it has been claimed.

So say "multiple sources" - none named, mind - who've spoken to 9to5 Mac. Once iOS 5.0 has been installed on devices using the customary method based on iTunes, iOS 5.0.1 or whatever comes next will be pushed direct to handsets.

Presumably punters will have the choice to upgrade that way, or follow the current process.

As it stands, a small tweak to the OS, such as last night's iOS 4.3.3 update, which changes how the operating system records location data, involves the entire OS being swapped out when all that may have changed is a few kilobytes of code.

As 9to5 Mac notes, Apple already has this technology in place in iOS: it's how the iOS-based second-generation Apple TV updates itself.

You might not want to download the best part of 600MB over a pricey 3G connection, but a small patch should be no problem.

Interestingly, this potential shift away from iTunes comes as Apple is rumoured to be expanding into the cloud. Online back-up - whether full disk protection or a more Dropbox-style affair isn't clear - music streaming and a host of other such services are rumoured to be soon to join Apple's existing personal info sync service, MobileMe. ®

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