I know how to add new apps to my iPhone, but I’m not entirely clear how I update those apps when there are new versions available. Is this something I can do on my phone, or do I need to use iTunes to update iPhone apps?
That’s a great question, actually, and just the kind of thing that Apple assumes you can just figure out without any assistance. But hey, that’s why I’m around and writing about the iPhone and related gizmos and gadgets!
It turns out that there are two ways you can update the applications on your iPhone, and, depending on how you manage them, you might need to do both to get everything updated. The issue is whether you have iPhone apps on your computer that aren’t also on your iPhone. This is done by simply not having every app in iTunes sync’d with your phone.
Let me show you both ways you can sync, starting with iPhone apps updated within iTunes. Then we’ll look at how to do updates on the phone itself.
In iTunes, on the left side, you’ll see “Apps” and, possibly, a number too:
This shows me that there are ten iPhone / iPad / iPod applications that have available updates. Click on the “Apps” entry and you’ll see a big list of all the apps you have in the iTunes library (again, that might be more than what’s on your iPhone). More importantly, on the lower right edge, you’ll see:
Click on “Updates Available” (it might say “Check for Updates” too) and, if you’re like me, you’ll see this confusing message:
Click “OK” and the second random warning shows up:
My experience is that if I just ignore these after clicking “OK” the updates start downloading without any more work, though it doesn’t really make sense to me. Sometimes I don’t see either of these too, so… who knows. At least it works.
Once you do get to the available updates page, you’ll see something like this:
You’ll want to click on “Download All Free Updates” on the top right and it’ll probably ask you to log in to your iTunes account:
Done? Good, because the downloads will begin, as you can see if you look down to the “Downloads” area:
You can click on the “Downloads” entry and find out how things are proceeding…
Or you can just ignore it. It’ll finish all by itself.
Now plug in your iPhone and when it syncs up, you’ll see…
Once it’s done syncing, you’ll find that all your iPhone apps are up-to-date.
Downloading iPhone App Updates on the iPhone Itself
On the other hand, maybe you’d like to just try updating your apps on the iPhone without your computer involved. It’s not a bad strategy because any apps that are updated will automatically transfer to your computer next time you sync.
Your iPhone has an app called “App Store”. It might even have a small number indicating the number of app updates available:
Tap on the app to launch it, and you’ll probably see something like a list of the top apps in the iTunes App Store:
Notice along the bottom, on the right, it says “Updates” (and in this case also shows a small ‘2’ to indicate how many updates are available). Tap on it…
Now you can see what apps have updates available. Curious about details? Tap on the app in question and you’ll see an explanation from the developer. Or… just tap on “Update All” on the top right and…
Yeah, the usual. Enter your password and — in a bit of a really poor design — you’ll be booted out of the App Store application and dropped back to the main screen, at which time you can see apps being updated if they’re on that screen. Here’s how it appears:
Once they’re done downloading, you’re up-to-date.
Whether you update your iPhone apps on the phone itself or in iTunes, now you know exactly how to do it. Good luck!