One of the longstanding knocks on Apple's iOS is its lack of independence when it comes to downloading new updates. Currently all iPhones, iPads, and iPods require a hard tether to a computer running iTunes in order to be updated to the latest software.
According to a new rumor reported by 9to5Mac, that could soon be changing. Citing "multiple sources," 9to5Mac says that iOS 5 incremental updates could be the first Apple mobile operating system updates to be synced over the air, joining Google's Android and Palm's WebOS in the phone-only update game.
Keep in mind that the major iOS 5 version will not be synced over the air (you will still need a computer with iTunes), but rather the smaller point updates that generally contain bug fixes, security updates, and minor feature upgrades.
Though the article does not specifically say iPods and iPads will get over-the-air updates, it seems likely that all iOS devices would be capable. Of course, Apple TV gets its updates without a computer connection, so it appears Apple has already considered untethered updating for iOS devices.
AT&T and other carriers were not mentioned by 9to5Mac's sources as possibly adding over-the-air updates.
Questions still loom surrounding untethered updates, such as backing up your iOS information and syncing content. Perhaps recent rumblings about Apple's acquisition of the icloud.com domain will result in a cloud-based backup system and an iTunes streaming service for iOS devices. For now it's just a rumor, but all signs are pointing to a computer-free mobile experience in the near future.
What do you think about over-the-air updates for iOS? Let me know in the comments!