How to Install iOS 5.1 on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Prepare for the next incremental release of iOS 5 for your iDevice

Apple this week is poised to unveil not only the iPad 3, but also the next incremental release of iOS 5. Tested by Apple developers worldwide for the past few months, iOS 5.1 is ready to be set loose, likely even before the iPad 3 becomes physically available. So here’s how to download and install the software when it's released.

If the past is any indication, the iOS 5.1 software update may well be released to the masses this week. The update should deliver numerous new features, tweaks, as well as fixes for some recently discovered security flaws, and other types of bugs.

Starting with the initial release of iOS 5, there have been two ways to update the software on your iDevice. One is the traditional method - through iTunes; the other is over-the-air (OTA). Here’s the first set of instructions (according to Apple’s own Support site):

Update your device using iTunes

First off, make sure that your device is backed up to iCloud or back up with iTunes. If you plan to update using the Mac or PC with which you normally sync, all your iTunes content will be synced automatically after updating and restoring from backup.

However, if you update using a computer that you don’t normally use to sync your iDevice, only the content that is stored in the backup will be restored back to the device.

With that out of the way, here are the actual steps:

1. Ensure that you're using the latest version of iTunes.

2. Connect your device to your computer using the included USB cable.

3. After iTunes opens, select your device when it appears in iTunes under Devices.

4. Click "Check for Update" in the Summary pane to check for available updates.

5. If an update is available, iTunes prompts you to download and install the update. Do not disconnect your device until the update has finished.

Update your device wirelessly / over the air (OTA) - available in iOS 5 and later

1. Ensure your device is connected to a power source. To avoid potential data costs connect your device to a Wi-Fi network.

2. Go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS will automatically check for available updates.

3. If an update is available you can tap Download to download the update.

4. After the download has completed tap Install to update your iOS.

5. If you leave the update to download in the background, once the download has finished you will receive a notification saying an update is available for your device. Tapping Details will take you to Settings > General > Software Update. Tap Install Now to install the iOS update. If you decide to leave the installation for later Settings will display notification badge until the update has been installed.


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