Apple may join the ranks of RIM and some other competitors as it mulls offering software upgrades over the air, doing away with the requirement of needing a PC to enjoy the latest improvements.

The change, already enjoyed by users of Research in Motion's Blackberry devices, is expected to be rolled out as early as this fall, according to reports from 9to5mac.

The changes will purportedly be part of the next-generation iPhone operating system, iOS5.

Multiple sources say the new feature will debut in iOS 5, meaning iOS 5 will not come over-the-air but following point updates to it will, the report read.

Sources could not comment on whether Apple is negotiating similar deals with AT&T or international iPhone carriers.

Some of Apple's major smartphone competitors, such as those with Android, Microsoft Windows Phone and HP Palm smartphones, all feature the ability to update operating systems over the air.

If true, the move could hail the end of the iPhone's tethering to the computer.

Since the phone's debut in 2007, iPhone users relied on their PC's -- whether Macs or Windows based -- to download songs and apps, perform back-ups and upgrade their software.

But through out the year, analysts have slowly uncovered evidence that Apple is building its own cloud, or server farms capable of hosting a number of services to Apple's mobile army of users.

The new infrastructure could host more services and make the iPhone a completely stand-alone product.

One anticipated service is a digital locker where users can store and stream songs from, instead of having to rely on the internal memory of the device, or a PC to buy them from. Online retailer Amazon has launched a similar service already this year.

Reports have also surfaced that next-generation iPhones would be 4G compatible, giving the necessary network speeds to make such services more feasible.

Such a change would need to be negotiated with carriers however.

Officials at Apple, Verizon, and AT&T were unavailable for comment.