In the early betas of iOS 5, it was reported the operating system gained a new functionality to set up AirPort stations on a local network. AppleInsider posted screenshots of the feature, and wrote:
Under Wi-Fi Networks, a new option reads "Set up an AirPort Base Station..." In setting up a Time Capsule, users are given the option to create a Wi-Fi network, complete with password, or "Do something different." Selecting the latter option gives users the option to join an existing network, or to replace a base station. Users are also given appropriate error messages or details on how to fix any issues directly from the iOS Settings application.
As noted by Twitter user @SonnyDickson and a forum poster on MacTalk.com.au, it appears Apple is now preparing to release a dedicated AirPort Utility app for iOS, which should soon be available in the App Store, perhaps as early as next week when iOS 5 will be publicly released. In the iOS 5 GM release, a button named "Manage this Network" in the WiFi settings for an AirPort-based network will ask users if they want to download AirPort Utility from the App Store. The dialog box will then launch an iTunes link, which is not live yet, to download the app on the Store.
It's unclear whether iOS 5 will have basic AirPort setup functionalities built-in, or if the features spotted in the early betas have all been moved to a separate App Store download. One of the key features of iOS 5 is PC Free, a set of tools that will allow iOS owners to set up their devices without using a Mac or PC -- being able to configure an AirPort network directly from an iPhone or iPad would certainly be in line with Apple's willingness to "cut the cord" and let iOS devices be independent from desktop computers. iOS 5 and iCloud will debut next Wednesday, October 12th, and Apple is also set to release another App Store app on that day, Cards.