So there’s good news and bad news on the iOS 5 front this weekend. The good news it that Apple pushed out iOS 5 beta 4 yesterday and it’s the first version of the operating system that can be downloaded directly on your device without physically connecting your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to a computer running iTunes. The bad news is that it looks like the over-the-air update doesn’t work on jailbroken devices.
Jailbreaking an iOS device allows you to download and install apps that aren’t available in the official App Store, including software that changes the operating system at a deep level. For instance, you can install an alternative to the default iOS keyboard. But Apple isn’t generally on board with that kind of behavior since it also allows you to install pirated apps or run software that could affect the overall performance of your device. In order to jailbreak your system you also need to exploit a security hole in iOS, so once hackers find a way to jailbreak it usually doesn’t take Apple long to push out a software update removing the security flaw.
Anyone running iOS 5 beta 3 can still update to iOS 5 beta 4 by connecting a device to a PC or Mac with a USB cable and running iTunes. But over-the-air wireless updates are off the tablet, and I suspect this will also be the case once iOS 5 exits beta and becomes available to the masses.
The good news is that since Apple won’t push software updates automatically to jailbroken phones, you probably won’t lose your jailbreak by updating accidentally.