by Arnold Kim
Earlier this evening, Apple released version 5.5.3 of AirPort Utility. This small update to the AirPort Extreme Base Station and Time Capsule administration software contained a few bug fixes, but also a bit of a surprise. Readers in the MacRumors Forums (neek and jonnyz) found references to unreleased 4th Generation Time Capsules and 5th Generation AirPort Extremes.
In the weeks leading up to the WWDC keynote, there had been reports of dwindling Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme stocks, suggesting an imminent refresh. It seems that Apple has been working on next-generation devices, but hasn’t yet released them.
Also found were references to Software Updates being stored on devices, but these references are not new as the same text has been found in older versions of the software dating back to at least 2010.
"bsUP.productName" = "Store Apple software updates on this %@";
"bsUP.description" = "Apple software updates that are copied to this %@ are available to anyone using this network.";
What we do know is that Apple has been internally testing Time Capsules to cache Software updates for both Mac and iOS devices. The way we’ve heard it works is that the new Time Capsule learns which devices connect to it via Wifi. It then goes out to Apple’s servers and downloads Software Updates for those products.
When the user wants to install the software update, the Time Capsule, which is also the router, routes you to the locally stored update, rather than downloading the whole thing over the Internet.
Given the fact that these Software Update references were also present in the old firmware, it’s not clear when Apple is planning on launching this features, especially in light of the recent iCloud announcements. Apple has also been rumored to be redesigning its Time Capsules and AirPort Extremes around the same A4/A5 processors used in the iPhone and iPad.