Apple appears to be working on a new over-the-air recovery mode that could let users restore malfunctioning devices without the need for a computer.
While it seems like a relatively minor addition, an over-the-air recovery tool could make troubleshooting an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch that has stopped working much easier to do.
References to the internet recovery mode were first spotted by 9to5Mac in the latest beta versions of iOS and iPadOS 13.4 released today.
As the name suggests, the feature seems to allow users to restore a device’s firmware through the internet, or by connecting the device to another iOS or iPadOS device akin to the Migration tool.
Although not a user-facing feature currently, there were code strings that hinted toward the hidden “OS Recovery” option in today’s iOS 13.4 beta 3 release.
Currently, the only way to restore the firmware on iOS or iPadOS devices is to connect them to a Mac or PC via Lightning or USB-C. That may have been fine in the golden era of iTunes, but in recent years, Apple’s mobile devices have become essentially independent from computers.
The over-the-air recovery mode could also help users fix other Apple products, such as the Apple Watch or HomePod. Since neither of those devices have external connectors, there’s no way for end-users to restore their firmware. In other words, over-the-air recovery could save you a trip to the Apple Store.
It’s worth noting that Macs have long had an internet recovery mode, letting users restore the operating systems on their devices over the internet and without any fancy tech tricks.
The introduction of over-the-air troubleshooting features also becomes more interesting when you take reports of an upcoming port-less iPhone into account.
At this point, there’s no way for users to access the OS Recovery feature since it’s hidden in the code. Because of that, Apple could scrap the feature at pretty much any time before its release. But based on rumors of Apple’s mobile device direction, as well last he fact that internet recovery has been long available on macOS, it seems more likely than not that this feature will be released.