Several sites on Wednesday reported that the latest firmware update for Apple's Airport Extreme routers will let users back up wirelessly with Mac OS X Leopard's Time Machine program. Time Machine can now locate a USB hard drive connected to the Airport, the so-called AirDisk.
A report last week on MacFixit, jumped the gun on the new capability, saying that the recent Airport Update provided the support. That was in error. However, on Wed., the site said it was the AirPort Extreme Firmware 7.3.1 that did the trick.
So, apply AirPort Update 2008-001, install Time Machine and AirPort Updates 1.0, then launch AirPort Utility (in /Applications/Utilities). You should be automatically prompted to update to firmware 7.3.1. If not, choose "Manual Setup" then choose "Upload Firmware" from the Base Station menu.
This action was confirmed by a reader of the The Unofficial Apple Weblog.
This AirDisk feature was found in certain beta versions of Leopard, but was pulled from the actual release version in October. Its loss (and lack of explanation) riled the community.
Here's a post by Brett Walker in the Apple Support Discussion boards that was representative of the outrage:
The main reason I bought an Airport Extreme was also for the expectation that I could use the external drive hookup as a Time Machine target for both Macs I have in the house. I'd be extremely disappointed should Apple decide not to support its own feature.
There were even greater howls of outrage back at the Macworld Expo when Steve Jobs introduced Apple's Time Capsule product, which is a wireless backup solution. It appeared that Apple was protecting its new backup-specific product and blocking the AirDisk solution that had been both promised earlier and within tantalizing reach within developer seeds of Leopard.
So, now we have good news coming with a continuing stream of updates, whether they are specifically labeled as being for Leopard.
This is really more evidence of Mac OS X programmers getting back to work on Leopard. Last year as we may remember, these developers were pressed into working on the iPhone instead of Leopard and this shift caused the delay in its release.
It looks as if the team is finally getting around to hitting some of the deeper bugs on the to-do list that prevented a number of technologies from making the first release of Leopard. Perhaps we can expect more of the same — until they are pulled back to work on the iPhone again.