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Up close with iOS 5: Wireless syncing and updating

Serenity Caldwell | Oct. 17, 2011
One of the best parts of iOS 5--regarding device management, at least--is that you no longer have to connect your device to your Mac or PC when you want to sync your information or download a subsequent software update. There are two features at work here: iTunes Wi-Fi Sync and Software Update.

One of the best parts of iOS 5--regarding device management, at least--is that you no longer have to connect your device to your Mac or PC when you want to sync your information or download a subsequent software update. There are two features at work here: iTunes Wi-Fi Sync and Software Update.

iTunes Wi-Fi Sync

Constantly connecting your iOS device to your computer to keep it in sync and backed up can be a real pain. Lucky for you, you don't have to do it anymore, thanks to iOS 5's new Wi-Fi Sync feature.

Wi-Fi Sync (as its name might suggest) allows your device to sync with your computer over a Wi-Fi network rather than through a USB connection. It's slightly slower, but you can do it any time your device is on the same Wi-Fi network as your desktop. Better still, your device stays perpetually connected: You can adjust settings and re-sync without having to disconnect and reconnect any cables. (You can always continue to sync the old-fashioned way, of course.) Another benefit to this perpetual connection is that when syncing, you're no longer stuck with the Do Not Disconnect screen every time you're updating your song list or changing a setting; instead, it all happens in the background, allowing you to multitask and use your device during a sync session.

Set up Wi-Fi Sync: To enable Wi-Fi sync for your device, you need to connect your device to your computer--one last time!--and open up iTunes. Click on your device in the Source list and then scroll down to the bottom of the summary pane.

(Image Caption: Check the Sync With This device Over Wi-Fi box and press the Sync button to enable Wi-Fi syncing for your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.)

Check the box that enables syncing, press the Sync button to save your changes, and you're all set. By default, your device will sync with your computer any time it's plugged in and both are on the same Wi-Fi network; you can also force a sync by going to the Settings app and tapping General -> iTunes Wi-Fi Sync and then tapping Sync Now.

Software Update

With Wi-Fi Sync, you can keep your day-to-day activities running smoothly. But what about when the next iOS update inevitably comes out? You don't want to have to connect your device back to your computer. And good news: With iOS 5, you don't have to.

Install updates on your iOS device: If you've ever used an iOS device before, you're probably fairly familiar with the process of downloading app updates from the App Store app: When a little red badge appears in the upper right corner of the App Store icon, you open the App Store, navigate to the Updates tab, and download your app updates all at once, or one by one. The Software Update process for iOS 5 is remarkably similar; but instead of going to the App Store, you go to the Settings app for any system updates.

 

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