Apple reportedly shifting Airport base stations to use iOS

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Limited availability of Apple's wireless AirPort and Time Capsule base stations suggest a hardware refresh, with new rumors indicating the company will shift its wireless base station line to use iOS.



Apple's existing AirPort and Time Capsule products have for several years used embedded ARM processors built by Marvell (the original models used AMD and later PowerPC chips), but they run a unique embedded operating system.



Shifting these products to use a custom build of Apple's iOS would make it easier for the company to port content streaming, sharing and other networking features between Mac OS X, iOS and its AirPort base stations.



For example, Apple could bring its existing firewall, file sharing, software update service, calendar and WebDAV servers, and other existing services to AirPort products with less effort and maintain such services using a common codebase shared with Mac OS X Server, desktop Macs, and mobile iOS devices.



Using a common code base and core OS could also open the potential for an AirPort App Store allowing third party developers to sell add-on functionality to AirPort products.



Such a move is also anticipated to enable Apple to incorporate local client support for its new iCloud services, some of which appear to already be represented in the company's existing MobileMe services.



Existing Mac OS X and iOS features such as iDisk cloud storage and file sync, MobileMe Sync Services, Back to My Mac VPN secure remote access, AirPlay and AirPrint already have some support in AirPort base stations, but an iOS base station could readily support enhanced and expanded support for these types of features.



Some reports have speculated that AirPort could incorporate Apple's Software Update feature of Mac OS X Server, which enables a server to download and cache available updates for local users, allowing them to obtain updates without each client needing to download its own copy of identical updates.



New features anticipated for iCloud, including remote, mobile access of streaming commercial music from Apple's servers, may also be accelerated or cached by improved new AirPort base stations built using iOS. Such devices could also accelerate the relay of user content to a cloud-based digital locker service.



New base stations could also conceptually save copies of Time Machine backups to a user's cloud storage, or sync specific types of documents to the cloud for secure, mobile remote access. Such utility is suggested in a tweet by AppleTweaks portraying what appears to be iOS 5 offering settings for Time Machine and iCloud settings (pictured below)







In the opposite direction, a cloud-savvy AirPort device could also download and cache Mac and iOS App Store updates for quick local installation, and support local or even remote syncing of media or software updates for mobile iOS devices, reducing or eliminating the need for users to sync with iTunes directly.



Additional rumors reported to AppleInsider suggest that Apple's AirPort team is working on wireless drivers for non-Intel CPUs, suggesting the possibility that iOS devices could directly be used to set up and configure new AirPort or Time Capsule devices without needing a Mac or Windows PC to run AirPort Utility.



Last year, Apple shifted its Apple TV product from an Intel x86 CPU running a scaled down version of Mac OS X to a cheaper ARM-based device running an embedded version of iOS. That update enabled the new Apple TV to support AirPlay streaming of audio and video. A similar makeover for the portable AirPort Express could incorporate an HDMI port to provide similar audio and video streaming features.



New AirPort base station devices could also incorporate support for offering guest wireless access as configured by the user, providing or segregating guest access from local file sharing, print and media streaming services.



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Comments

  • solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I push this even farther and say the new Time Capsule will be in the Mac mini-like chassis. Meaning a milled block of aluminium.
  • bregaladbregalad Posts: 811member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I push this even farther and say the new Time Capsule will be in the Mac mini-like chassis. Meaning a milled block of aluminium.



    While a milled aluminum case would be greener than white plastic and help the device run cooler I worry about the cost.
  • sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    That would be really awesome I think. It would make the router into a smart home server and a manager of your network. As the article mentioned downloading update for easy install while you are not home, or continuing to download files while you take your laptop from your house (capsule only functionality of course). I doubt it will happen in wwdc, but who knows maybe in the near future.
  • splash-reversesplash-reverse Posts: 648member
    Cool. Soft integration, I like it.

    Meanwhile, I thought DED have gone AWOL. No input from him lately. Mind you, Microsoft is no news nowadays.
  • benny-boybenny-boy Posts: 88member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I push this even farther and say the new Time Capsule will be in the Mac mini-like chassis. Meaning a milled block of aluminium.



    Would be cool. I'd like to see a standard dimension arise like on stereo and rack equipment.



    If the next generation of routers are really groundbreakingly icloud-empowered (software updates are relatively mundane compared to what's possible) we may be looking at iOS as the operating system for the home, PERIOD. The router is the beachhead dontcha see? Think:

    Media obviously

    Power optimization, remote control, every lightswitch an iPod touch (sorta)

    Smart grid (the home's backend power optimization)

    Security

    Will this be the standard for the future of VoIP? Steve=pa bell?

    Imagine third party apps like networked home medical equipment, telemetry, scales.for the aging@home boomers, etc.
  • mike egglestonmike eggleston Posts: 637member
    If the existing AirPort Extreme are using an ARM-based processor, does that mean that they may update my Airport Extreme to this new iOS version of it? That would be really bad-ass if the would.
  • dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 11,306member
    I don't know if this is possible because of broadcast regulations... but it would be great...



    Consider a home or an office full of Macs, TimeMachines, Airports, ATVs, iPads, iPhones.



    What all these devices [will] have in common is a programmable A4/5, x86 and a WiFi Chip.



    What if, within the private confines of the home or the office -- these devices could ignore "regulations" and exchange data, amongst themselves, at much higher bandwidths?



    Say, copy a movie from a media server to an iPad in seconds, rather than minutes.



    Or backup that large FCP video (and all its attendant files) to the central TimeMachine Home Server (for later backup to the cloud)



    The WiFi within these environments is used for a lot more than just accessing the Internet (through an IP provider with bandwidth limitations).



    Then, at some later date... when the IP providers catch up...
  • iamdeadfishiamdeadfish Posts: 8member
    In other news: Angry Birds has been announced for Time Capsule!





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bregalad View Post


    While a milled aluminum case would be greener than white plastic and help the device run cooler I worry about the cost.



    Antennas and aluminum cases don't play well together!



    Maybe it'll look more like the AppleTV?
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,981member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mike Eggleston View Post


    If the existing AirPort Extreme are using an ARM-based processor, does that mean that they may update my Airport Extreme to this new iOS version of it?



    Of course not. It's Apple. You'll be buying the new one if you want the new OS.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I push this even farther and say the new Time Capsule will be in the Mac mini-like chassis. Meaning a milled block of aluminium.



    It's a router, soli! I'm very surprised that you don't know what aluminum would imply!
  • dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 11,306member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iamdeadfish View Post


    In other news: Angry Birds has been announced for Time Capsule!









    Antennas and aluminum cases don't play well together!



    Maybe it'll look more like the AppleTV?



    I like the ATV2 form factor -- especially the size and the built-in power supply.



    Though, A Home server would by definition require disks and power supplies.
  • quinneyquinney Posts: 2,420member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I push this even farther and say the new Time Capsule will be in the Mac mini-like chassis. Meaning a milled block of aluminium.



    The possibilities sound great, but doesn't this mean you are going to have a lot of work setting it up for all of your relatives?
  • asciiascii Posts: 5,363member
    I wonder if it will enable more HD movie rentals for the Mac?



    Currently you can often rent HD for iPad/Apple TV but only SD for Mac. This is probably because iOS is more locked down and content providers are worried that OS X users will find a way to hack the copy protection. But if the router (running iOS) downloads the Movie and only streams it to the Mac, would that keep the content providers happy?
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,981member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    Currently you can often rent HD for iPad/Apple TV but only SD for Mac.



    Uh... Where've you been?



  • solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bregalad View Post


    While a milled aluminum case would be greener than white plastic and help the device run cooler I worry about the cost.



    I hear ya, but I wondered about cost of the unibody MBPs came out, the Apple Remote Control, Mac mini, the latter seeming excessive to only being used for Apple's simple desktop Mac.
  • solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    It's a router, soli! I'm very surprised that you don't know what aluminum would imply!



    I'm aware, but all their other aluminum shelled devices have several radios and they did expand the Mac mini's footprint to match that as their AirPort Extreme Base Station and Time Capsule.



    I just can't accept that the Mac mini being milled from a .solid block of aluminum makes sense unless you want to move that to other devices that match that footprint.
  • firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,499member
    Sounds like a possible version of the iHub/iCenter/iHome/iCentral/iMesh I've been rambling on about (ad nauseum - sorry guys ) and adding ideas from others to for the past 9 months.



    I really do think that a home server "appliance" is required to make the cloud usable for most people, at least as a stop-gap measure until high-speed unlimited Internet is ubiquitous.



    The list I iHub/iHome now...

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post
    • Small, cheap device (iOS maybe, SoC ARM almost certainly)

    • Built in memory but possible HDD for larger libraries

    • iTunes server for iDevices on the network. Movies, TV, music etc. Both purchased and personal libraries. This fits in with iOS 4.3 Home Sharing.

    • OTA iDevice synchronisation for multiple devices. Backups, OS upgrades, purchases etc. Basically you need to be able to have a house with iDevices and no PC.

    • Mobile Me backup/synchronization. Personal documents, video, music, pictures etc should be backed up to your Mobile Me account by the iHub.

    • Shared TimeMachine

    • Ability to offload background processing (I'm yet to convince myself "mainstream" users would understand this one) like app downloads and updates and uploads of large chunks of data (like long YouTube videos or photo albums)

    • Network TV re-broadcasting. Basically DVBLink.








    EDIT: This would also tie in with how I think a cloud music service should work as well. iCloud could potentially be similar to what others have created... but I don't think any company has really created a nice mesh of the private/public cloud.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post


    Here is how I would like it to work...
    • iDevices are sync'd over-the-air

    • Songs purchased via iTunes are "backed up" to the cloud

    • iTunes "Home Sharing" is extended to the Internet (the "private cloud")

    • iPhone/iPod does intelligent sync and song caching

    • If you pay for a "premium" Mobile Me (or "iCloud") subscription you get some extra features
      1. Tracks purchased outside of iTunes are also sync'd to the cloud

      2. You get stream/sync access to every song on iTunes

      3. iTunes DJ/Genius works across all songs on iTunes, not just my purchases

      4. I get to select 10 tracks each month to permanently own

      5. iTunes gets a basic web version


    Finally, regardless of the location of the song (local, cached, private cloud or public cloud) they should all be presented in the one combined user interface.




    EDIT: I'd also love to see an iHub/iCenter/iHome/iCentral/iMesh to facilitate the creation of a private cloud as well... but I'm just dreaming now



  • dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 11,306member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    I wonder if it will enable more HD movie rentals for the Mac?



    Currently you can often rent HD for iPad/Apple TV but only SD for Mac. This is probably because iOS is more locked down and content providers are worried that OS X users will find a way to hack the copy protection. But if the router (running iOS) downloads the Movie and only streams it to the Mac, would that keep the content providers happy?



    You may be on to something here...



    In a post-pc world, an individual user would have less ability to hack or bypass DRM and rip off content. If true, then the content providers could concentrate on providing better content, more accessible content -- at better prices.



    Surely, Content providers would be more amenable to doing this for the curated iTunes - iOS ecosystem -- than for the relatively wide-open, anything goes system provided by Android.
  • solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post


    I like the ATV2 form factor -- especially the size and the built-in power supply.



    Though, A Home server would by definition require disks and power supplies.



    I think a single 3.5" HDD for a new Time Capsule will be bad, two would be okay, and three disks would be great for a Home Server. I'm not even going to push my luck with four disks or wanting them to be hot swappable.



    I have to think that Apple knows the 'PC' isn't the hub it once was and that homes want to be connected by a single repository to a variety of satellite devices. I also have to think Apple is well aware of failed Time Capsule HDDs as we are.



    Am I really asking for too much?
  • asciiascii Posts: 5,363member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Uh... Where've you been?







    There are very few HD movies for Mac here in Australia, only Apple TV and iPad can rent HD. I was assuming it was an OS security thing, but perhaps it's just regional licensing.



    Edit: I wonder if it will still be called Airport? I saw in Lion screenshots the term Airport had been replaced by simply WiFi.
  • eswinsoneswinson Posts: 99member
    I guess it will become a nano server.
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