Forward-looking: Having to wait around while your brand new smartphone downloads and installs the latest OS and security updates is a necessary evil, but perhaps not for too much longer. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple is developing a proprietary system for use in retail stores that will be able to update an iPhone without having to unbox it.
An Apple Store employee will be able to put a box of unopened iPhones on a pad-like device. The system will then somehow be able to turn the iPhones on, have them download and install an update, then turn the handsets back off once complete.
Gurman said the system should start rolling out to Apple retail stores before the end of the year, but we have got more questions than answers regarding this bit of wizardry.
How exactly will the device be able to turn on an iPhone without physically pushing the power button? The pad-like device suggests MagSafe, Apple's proprietary, magnetically-attached wireless charging and accessory attachment system, could somehow be involved.
Perhaps the device Apple is developing for retail stores is simply a more powerful version of MagSafe that can somehow prompt an iPhone to turn itself on without the power button being pressed. Does this mean that iPhones are never actually off unless the battery is fully drained?
Worse yet, what if this technology falls into the wrong hands and someone figures out how to remotely power on devices and trigger software updates at a meaningful distance? Will there be a way to opt out of the feature once you take ownership of the phone? That could be a privacy nightmare for Apple, but let us not get ahead of ourselves.
If successful on the iPhone, it stands to reason that Apple could employ a similar system for the iPad. And depending on how it works (whether or not it uses MagSafe), it might also be a viable idea for rival device makers to copy and bring to their platforms.