Apple’s Over the Air OS Recovery Solves a Huge Problem Which Many Users Won’t Realize Needs Fixing

Uzair Ghani
Over the air recovery has me super excited, here's why

The ability to perform a clean restore without a Mac or PC? This is something I'm desperately waiting for and there's a huge reason behind it.

Accumulated too Much Software Trash Over the Years? Apple's New OS Recovery Feature Will Make Things Better (Hopefully)

I had an iPhone lying around that simply shut down randomly. There was no pattern to it. There was no specific percentage that it hit before the shutdown even happened. It just did. I thought it was a dying battery as it had around 80% health. So, I sent the phone over to Apple, they performed a clean restore of the software and the shutdown simply stopped happening. The battery was screwed, don't get me wrong here. But the real culprit was the software.

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This iPhone had around 2 years worth of over the air updates on top of one another, meaning it was filled with garbage. It badly needed a restore. And we all know how we do it - connect it to a PC or a Mac, download the firmware file and then restore. Sure, you can do it from Settings, but it's not the same thing. You are essentially just erasing your files and settings and bringing it back to a 'stock state' using the software bits that were accumulated over the years.

Second story - I had an Apple Watch Series 0 and I installed a watchOS beta on it. Obviously, I couldn't downgrade back to the public release so I installed each and every single beta before reaching the final one. But oddly enough, the Apple Watch felt slow, even after a reset. With strange turn of events, I ended up buying another Series 0 with the latest software and it was noticeably faster. Keep in mind that you can't connect the Apple Watch to a PC or Mac and perform a fresh restore of the firmware.

So, now you will immediately understand why the over the air recovery feature has me excited. If something is insanely wrong with your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or maybe even your Apple Watch, you can just download the entire firmware over the air, wipe your device clean and bring it to the state using Finder or iTunes. But with the over the air recovery, you don't have to do that at all. This is simply magic. And if you have been trying out beta software and ever wanted to downgrade, then you'd know that at times it simply fails. I once had a moment where I had to downgrade the beta to a previous beta build after which I downgraded back to the public release. Just imagine not having to do that at all. At all!

Over the air updates have been around since the iOS 5 days, and while they are great, but over time you will start to notice problems on your phone or tablet which only a clean installation can fix. And we tend to avoid going down that route because connecting wires and having to fiddle with iTunes and Finder is not the nicest things around.

At this point it's unclear when this feature will make the cut to the public. With iOS 13.4 or iOS 14? It's hard to say. But whenever it does arrive, I'm going to use the heck out of it.

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