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Update: OK folks, i hope I'm wrong on this but as of right now I don't think i am (correct me in the comments if I am and I will re-update)... it now appears to me that Over-the-Air Device Software Upgrades will only be coming to BES users (requires a BES 4.1.4 release) and will not be available to BIS users as part of the BIS 2.5 upgrades. If this is the case, I'm pretty sad. Think back to the article PC Mag ran where they detailed the updates coming in 4.5. They noted which updates were on the handheld and which were on the server, but they never broke apart BES vs BIS. I just assumed this awesome feature would make its way to BIS customers and it seems that may not be the case.. at least just yet. **
One of the coolest features coming in RIM's BlackBerry Operating System version 4.5 update is the ability to get future OS updates wirelessly.
What a welcome improvement this will be. For the new BlackBerry user, the current means to updating the OS can be a confusing process the first time around. For gurus, it's still a pain in the butt to hunt down the latest updates from your carrier's website. And for Mac users, well... they're basically SOL since there is not yet a Mac version of Desktop Manager available. Do it over the air and you've just solved all of the problems above.
With beta copies of OS4.5 floating around the net for months now, most of the new features coming in OS4.5 have been explored quite fully (heck, we've even gone in-depth on OS4.6). But one feature has escaped us until now... and that's a good look at the Over-The-Air Upgrade Process.
Read on for a Step by Step look at how you will be able to update your BlackBerry in the hopefully near future.
Over-The-Air Upgrade Process
Checking for Upgrades
Per the picture above, a Wireless Upgrade icon will appear on your home screen when a new upgrade becomes available for install via OTA.
If an icon is not present, you will also be able to check for upgrades by going to Options > Advanced Options > Wireless Upgrade
Checking for Available Upgrades
Selecting an Upgrade
A list of up to three available upgrades (and downgrades) can be shown. Selecting an upgrade provides additional information on that upgrade and will also allow you to customize which components are installed. Selecting Next will allow the installation to continue using default settings.
Customizing Your Upgrade
Just like using the BlackBerry Desktop Manager to update your OS, you can customize your upgrade. You can add languages and non-standard applications, or remove unnecessary components like Help Files (that's what the CrackBerry Forums are for!).
Pressing the menu key on this screen will allow you to Save your customized settings, reset to defaults, or apparently call Voice Mail (though I'm not sure why you'd want to do that just right now) :-)
Once you complete your customizations, you will be returned to the update description screen where you can now proceed by clicking Next.
Downloading the Upgrade
While the download is being prepared, the "Submitting Upgrade Request" screen is displayed. At this point, if you change your mind on the customizations you'd like to make, you can still hit the menu button and cancel out of the upgrade. This will allow you to go back and start again.
The Download screen is displayed once the files are ready for download. You need to click the Start Download button to get things moving - the download will not automatically start. You can also hit the menu button and select Start Download (or Cancel Upgrade).
You can still perform other tasks on your BlackBerry while the download is taking place. Sweet!
Installing the Upgrade
Once the update has finished downloading, you can either begin the upgrade immediately (hit Next) or schedule an upgrade time (choose Later). You can't use your BlackBerry during the install process, so you may want to think about setting it for those hours while you are sleeping!
If you choose not to confirm before starting, your device will automatically begin the upgrade process without warning at the time specified.
The Installation Process
Now it's time for the serious work...
Left to Right to Bottom: Backup Process, Upgrade Process, Restore Process
Backup Process: Your data will be automatically backed up before the upgrade takes place, but RIM still recommends that you perform manual backups via BlackBerry Desktop Manager.
Upgrade Process: It is not possible to cancel or revert the upgrade during this step of the process. Also, it's best not to pull the battery out while this process is happening. No damage will occur to the device and the upgrade will resume, but still...just don't do it. And if for whatever reason the upgrade fails, it will automatically revert to your previous software version.
Restore Process: Once the upgrade is complete, all backed-up data will be restored.
And remember, if things eer go really really really awry and you end up with a "nuked" or "bricked" BlackBerry, our How To Fixed A Nuked BlackBerry tutorial is only a click away.
Pretty awesome huh? Hearing about Over the Air updates is nice, finally seeing the screenshots above is even better, but man oh man am I ever excited to see this fully be released and in use. I think this a great thing for BlackBerry Users everywhere!
One final thought to ponder - I wonder if RIM will work out deals with carriers to exclude this data from usage plans (at least for those not on unlimited plans)?
Whaddya all think?