updated 10:55 am EDT, Mon October 10, 2011
Could appear alongside iOS 5
Apple is preparing to launch a specific AirPort Utility app for iOS, users of the iOS 5 Gold Master have discovered. One planned feature for the platform has been the ability to configure an AirPort router. Within the iOS 5 GM, though, a pop-up appears if AirPort owners tap a special a button under Wi-Fi settings labelled Manage This Network. "Managing networks requires AirPort Utility," it states. "Would you like to download it from the App Store?"
Hitting "OK" opens up a non-functional iTunes link. When the app might go live is uncertain, but a likely candidate is October 12th, when iOS 5 itself will be made public. iCloud and the Cards app are also set to debut that day, all in the run-up to the launch of the iPhone 4S on October 14th.
The ability to configure a router without a Mac or Windows system is likely a part of Apple's "PC Free" strategy, which with the introduction of iCloud and iOS 5 will allow iOS devices to function without ever syncing to iTunes. Apple is thought to be moving in the direction of making iOS a full-scale operating system, possibly merged with the Mac OS. Even before iOS 5 was announced Apple began taking some steps toward the PC Free concept with initiatives like AirPrint.