Last updated May 2023
On smartphones, tablets, and other devices, an over-the-air update is a firmware or operating system update that is downloaded by the device over the internet. Previously, users had to connect these devices to a computer over USB to perform an update.
While you don’t necessarily need to know the detail of what OTA updates actually are, it’s good to understand what they do, how they impact you and why they are really quite vital.
What are Over-The-Air (OTA) updates?
In short, OTA updates are the wireless delivery of data, software or firmware to mobile devices.
As the technology that we use becomes ever mobile, it is increasingly impractical for people to head into mobile network stores or plug their smartphones and smartwatches into computers to get the latest updates.
It’s not just the technology we carry in our pockets and bags that is becoming ever more mobile. The rise of connected cars and other on-the-go IoT devices require a system that can similarly deliver updates while out and about.
OTA updates are the answer to this.
But why do you need updates anyway?
When you hear the words ‘device update’, you might think about think about having to restart you computer in a lengthy process or a software update that renders your smartphone useless for half an hour.
In fact, these updates are incredibly important to not only give you the latest features that your device can run, but also secure you against evolving cyberattacks and fix outstanding bugs.
These latter points are key; device security isn’t a one-time thing.
Manufacturers are constantly testing their devices for vulnerabilities which hackers could exploit.
When they find these issues, they release updates to fix them – and OTA updates are the prime method of delivering these.
Installing these updates as soon as possible is therefore vital to close down opportunities for criminals to exploit your data.
If you’re interested in cybersecurity, updating and generally protecting yourself from bad actors, keep reading this quick guide.