Restoring Apps from iTunes vs iCloud

Q: Thanks for the great Ask iLounge article Restoring Apps and App folder layouts. I have two followup questions:

My iPhone 4 was backed up to iCloud, and was NOT set up to sync with
iTunes. Before upgrading to my iPhone 5, I plugged it into iTunes, and backed it up and transferred my purchases. When I setup my iPhone 5, I told the iOS Setup Assistant that I wanted to restore via iTunes. When I did this, my apps were not restored to the device.

I assume this is because my device had not been set up to sync with

Since I did not have my apps, I decided to try to restore via iCloud. The only way I could figure out how to to this was “Erase all content and settings” on the phone, so that I could get to the iOS Setup Assistant again.

After I had restored from iTunes, could I have gotten my apps back on
the device using iTunes? If so, would their placement and data have been restored? Is there a way to restore from iCloud other than choosing the “Erase All Content and Settings” option on the device?

– Chris

A: Unfortunately, this is one of the situations where the arrangement of your apps will not be restored via iTunes, since the restore of your iOS backups includes your sync settings—in this case the setting to not sync apps with your iTunes library. You probably noticed that the arrangement of your built-in apps was preserved, less any gaps where third-party apps would have been, but unfortunately if you reselect your third-party applications in iTunes to resync them to your device, they will be arranged in whatever sequence you select them in.

Despite this, however, your actual data is preserved on the device and will be available when you reinstall the apps—only their position on your home screen is not.

The expectation here seems to be that if you’re not syncing your apps with iTunes in the first place, then you’re probably not backing up your device to iTunes either. Essentially, it seems that Apple expects users to either use iCloud or iTunes exclusively and doesn’t make a lot of allowances for mixing the two methods.

Ironically, had you chosen to re-sync your applications from iTunes on your iPhone 4 before making your last backup, those sync settings would have been included in the backup and been transferred to your new iPhone 5 as a result. Further, it seems that if you re-download your apps directly from the App Store, rather than attempting to resync them via iTunes, they will in fact be placed in their original positions on your home screen, although you would need to do this on an app-by-app basis; unfortunately there is no way to simply re-download all of your apps in a single operation.