Daily Tip: How to do an iOS OTA update [developers]

Daily Tip: How to do an iOS OTA update [developers]

iOS 5 developer curious how to do an over-the-air (OTA) update to iOS 5 beta 4 for iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch? Yes, Apple finally pulled the big test switch in the cloud and you can go from beta 3 to beta 4 via a svelte, under 200mb, bit differential (delta) update-in-place rather than the usual beefy 700MB+ iTunes restore of updates past. We'll show you how, after the break!

Initiating an OTA update for iOS 5 beta 4 is easy as fairly easy pie. Some reports even indicate badge and/or popup notifications will alert you to its availability (though we haven't seen any on our end... yet). To start it manually:

  1. Launching the Settings app
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Software Update
  4. (If it gives you an error pop up, just try again later. The Cloud, it strains.)
  5. Tap Download and Install
  6. Watch the progress bar! (This part depends on the speed and quality of your 3G or Wi-Fi signal. Don't be alarmed if it takes a long time or appears to jump around. Beta means beta!)
  7. Once it's finished downloading, you'll be prompted to instal (and restart) your device. If you don't explicitly hit Later or Install within a few seconds, it will install on your behalf.
  8. Apple will verify the install.
  9. That's it! You should reboot into iOS 5 beta 4 exactly how you left off in iOS 5 beta 3.

Seriously, once the download finishes it's amazing quick and smooth Apple may not have invented OTA updates (Chris swears BlackBerry has had them for ages, and Nokia likely invented them in 1812...) but if beta 4 is any indication, they're doing them right.

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you'd like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to news@tipb.com. (If it's especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we'll even give ya a reward...)

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 22 comments. Add yours.

jcp says:

Do you have to have beta3 or can you upgrade from beta 2? Never upgraded to 3.

Alec J Wasserman says:

nope can't do ota update from 2 to 4 only 3 to 4

Ethan S. says:

Wrong, OTA can be done from 2 to 4.

danielshervheim says:

i believe you meant "(the cloud, it rains)" not "strains"

Ethan S. says:

Wrong. The Cloud is Straining from being new and put through a heavy testing strain.

Alec J Wasserman says:

yes it works great. very quick now and most my apps work and do go poof. I am still testing just had it in about 2 hrs. no Google + still though :(

alex says:

I left mine updating over night. I woke this morning and my iPhone has the "plug into itunes" message and can't be used.. anyone else get that, or has my update gone tits up?

alex says:

Turns out its in recovery mode :( will have to download full beta 4 img and restore now

Applecpugeek says:

Do I have to do any activation? And can I activate on 3G?

Geekos23 says:


Bmf5150 says:

I don't have software updates listing under general In settings??any idea why?

dalejr88nascar says:

i did beta 4 ota yeaterday with 2-3 service bars.. it took about an hour and seems it did get stuck ar 1 minute remaining, but in the end it worked.. at first i got the error message but i tried in 45 minutes and it worked..

Przegienda says:

Any reason why I don't have software update in my general settings?

Przegienda says:

Same problem here, does anyone know why I don't have software update in general settings?

ichorus says:

My Version on iPhone 4 (GSM) says 9A5259f which a quick search shows beta 3...but it says I am up to date with my software when I click software update...
Any ideas or am I wrong?

Guest says:

Are you jailbroken? It won't work on jb'd devices.

Lakota704 says:

im not jailbroken and mine does that too

Jon says:

So again, why don't some of us have don't have "software update" under general settings?

The pSYION says:

NICE! I wasn't aware that the new beta had the OTA enabled! I will be updating myself just as soon as i figure out how to get iTunes working in Lion... Its a pain! Its times like this i wish the iPhone could do OTA Updates... lol

Przegienda says:

No I am not jailbroken, I am under Verizon

Vitor Amorim says:

I don't have the "software update" under general settings... can anyone help me?