Benefits of keeping apps in iTunes when using iCloud
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: Now that I can re-download previously purchased apps at will with iCloud, I am wondering if there is any purpose in syncing my iPhone’s apps with my iTunes library? Before iCloud, I would make sure to keep every purchased app in iTunes in order to be able to reinstall them in the future. Is there any other utility to having all my apps in iTunes? If there is no other purpose to syncing apps, is it safe to simply uncheck the “Sync Apps” checkbox in iTunes and delete all the IPA files from my iMac?
A: The first and most obvious reason to keep your apps around in iTunes is simply to have a local, extra backup of them in the event that something happens to your iOS device. Although you can re-download your apps using iTunes in the Cloud and restore them as part of an iCloud Backup, this is not without its limitations.
Firstly, iCloud will only restore your apps if they are still being sold on the iTunes Store. If an app has been removed from sale—either by Apple or by the developer—then you can no longer re-download that app. This includes not only re-downloading the apps again but also recovering them after restoring from an iCloud Backup. Apps that you have on your device, or in your iTunes library, will continue to work regardless of whether they’re still available on the iTunes Store, but your local copies will suddenly be the only way you can ever reinstall those apps.
Installing or restoring large apps via a USB connection from iTunes (e.g. navigation apps, large games like Infinity Blade II, etc) will naturally go much faster than trying to do the same over the air. This can also be especially significant if you have more than one iOS device for yourself or other family members, as a single copy in iTunes can be installed on multiple iOS devices, rather than requiring each device to download (or re-download) the app separately.
Keep in mind also that your apps themselves are not actually stored in your iOS device backups. When restoring an iOS device, the apps are simply reinstalled from the same source method as the backup—synced from iTunes if you’re restoring an iTunes backup or synced from iCloud if you’re restoring an iCloud backup. This means that if you’re backing up your iOS device to iTunes, then you also need to keep your apps in iTunes in order for them to be automatically put back onto your device during a restore.
Another important but somewhat less obvious reason to keep a local copy of your apps is to protect yourself from problematic app updates. If a new version of an app is causing problems for your device, you can more easily fall back to the old version on your computer—as long as you haven’t updated the version in iTunes or you’re backing up your “Mobile Applications” folder. It is not uncommon for new updates to remove favourite features from older versions or developers to drop support for older iOS versions—in fact there have been a number of apps where developers have told users in the release notes to backup and keep their old copy of the app if they’re still using an older iOS device.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Invoxia adds Amazon Alexa to Triby
- Apple provides more details on new Apple Music API
- Apple Music for Android adds music videos, Family Plan support
- Icahn pulls out of Apple over China concerns
- Apple launches CareKit, with four apps debuting today
- Alleged schematics for iPhone 7 ‘Pro’ show up in Japanese magazine
- Nintendo bringing Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing to iOS
- FBI will not disclose San Bernardino iPhone hack
- Notes from Apple’s Q2 2016 earnings call
- Apple Q2 results: $50.6B revenue, 51M iPhones, 10M iPads sold
- August Doorbell Cam
- August Smart Lock HomeKit enabled + Smart Keypad
- ecobee3 HomeKit-enabled smart Wi-Fi thermostat
- Zagg Now Cam
- Yantouch EyE Portable Wireless Speaker
- Netatmo Wind Gauge
- Incipio Stashback for iPhone 6/6s
- Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt with HomeKit support
- ClamCase ClamCase Pro for iPad mini 4
- Brydge BrydgeMini II Keyboard for iPad mini 4
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app
- Inside the betas: What’s new in iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 (Updated)
- Life with HomeKit: Our experiences with Apple’s home automation system
- Under the Radar: 10 ‘hidden’ details about the new Apple TV
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0
- Under the Radar: A closer look at smaller iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus changes
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)