It looks like Apple
may be moving toward the possibility of automatic OTA updates of apps in iOS 5. Currently such updates have to be manually initiated, either via the App Store iOS app or by syncing with iTunes.
A MacRumors reader tipped the site to the fact that when asking iTunes to check an end users' app library for updates, the following line had been added to the My App Updates results page (since pulled):
Or if your device has Automatic Download enabled for apps, your updates will download to your device without having to sync.
That's not a feature of iOS 4.3, so it is likely one for iOS 5.0.
Android can optionally update apps on an Android device (unless a manual update is required because of a permissions change) so Apple is playing catch-up here. It's unclear if the setting would be app-by-app, as with Android, or overall.
The finding doesn't point to Apple yet offering OTA firmware updates, which was rumored earlier. In that way, iOS still lags behind both Android
and (yes) Windows Phone.
Apple is expected to spotlight iOS 5, as well as iCloud and Mac OS X Lion on Monday during the WWDC 2011 keynote, at 10 a.m. PST.