An Apple tech repair puzzle and the potential for Wireless OS Recovery

Let me tell you a story about how the Apple gadget ecosystem can trap itself, under the right set of circumstances. While you read the set of problems that I'm about to recount, consider how quickly it could all have been resolved, had we been able to use the still-in-development "OS Recovery", or wireless device recovery system via iOS 13.4 Beta 4. This is, in my opinion, the most important feature Apple's developed in the past several years at least.

Tech Support for everyone

Earlier this year, an acquaintance of mine, (we'll call her Judy), asked for assistance with her iPad and her iMac. Judy was locked out of both of these devices, and as you're likely aware, sometimes you need to be logged into one in order to unlock the other. This is doubly true if you've forgotten your iPad password, and need to do something drastic.

Having forgotten her password for her iPad, Judy opted for a full reset of said iPad. To fully reset the operating system of the iPad, we needed iTunes, an app which could only be accessed on Judy's iMac. Unfortunate for us, Judy was also locked out of her iMac.

Judy could not get into her iMac because her wireless mouse ran out of battery power. She couldn't move the cursor on her screen without her mouse – without a cursor to select the text box, Judy could not enter a password to get past the login screen.

Given only the tools I had on-hand, there was nothing I'd have been able to do short of resetting the iMac. And even then, the possibility remained that I'd be unable to get anywhere from the start given the lack of a connected mouse.

The key to this puzzle box of a situation was a standard old connected USB mouse. Once we went out and got a USB mouse, we were able to log in to the iMac. From the iMac we were able to open iTunes, connect the iPad (with a Lightning USB cord) and reset the iPad.

Judy also has an iPhone

With OS Recovery – the software feature discovered in iOS 13.4 Beta 4 – it's very possible that we'd have been able to unlock and/or reset the iPad with my neighbor's iPhone instead of needing to connect a USB mouse to the desktop. The wireless mouse... situation... still would've existed, but we might never have had such a convoluted mess if we'd not needed to access the desktop machine in the first place.

If Apple does, indeed, implement wireless OS Recovery on iOS devices as code in iOS 13.4 Beta 4 suggests they are, some users might never need a desktop machine again.

I've got a pair of relatives who already live like that, without the desktops and whatnot. They've had to head to their local Apple Store for assistance more than once when they had login issues (forgotten passwords) and/or the odd recovery-centric mess occur. One might assume that, with wireless OS Recovery, one iPhone could potentially assist the other, and this would all be a whole lot simpler.

Or at least easier on the environment (what with all the gasoline used to drive to the Apple Store every couple of months). We're crossing our fingers this all comes to fruition!