How to Turn on Automatic App Updates on the iPhone and iPad

Update your iOS device automatically when new releases are available

Technology: iPhone5 Showing Apps

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The iPhone and iPad have become such low maintenance devices that they can automatically patch apps, install the latest version of apps and games, and update iOS when Apple puts out a new release. The automatic app update feature can eliminate the need to download dozens of updates on all of your devices that use them.

Instructions in this article apply to devices running iOS 9 or later.

How to Turn on the Automatic App Updates Feature

After the automatic app update feature is turned on, your device will download and install new versions of apps as they become available.

  1. Open the Settings app.

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  2. Tap iTunes & App Store.

    Turn on Automatic App Updates on iPad
  3. Turn on the Updates toggle switch.

    Automatic updates iPad

This setting doesn't automatically check the App Store for updates. But when the same apps are on multiple devices that use the same Apple ID, the update only needs to be downloaded to one device. For example, when an app is updated on your iPhone, your iPad will also download and install the latest version.

If you are on an iPhone (or an iPad that connects to a data network), there's an option to use cellular data to download automatic updates. Some apps, especially games, can take up quite a bit of bandwidth. A single update could use up a good chunk of your monthly allotment if your data plan is limited to 1 or 2 GB per month.

Even with an unlimited plan, it could take a while to perform updates over cellular, which could slow your device down for other services such as browsing Facebook or getting turn-by-turn directions.

Other Automatic Update Options on iPad

You can also turn on automatic downloads for music, apps, and books. These settings sync your purchases across every device you own automatically. But these settings are a little different, so you might want to think about it before turning them on.

Automatic updates on iPad

Automatic downloads synchronize downloads across all of your devices, and in the case of music and books, this also includes your Mac. When you download an app on one device, such as your iPhone, it automatically downloads to your other devices, like your iPad or iPod touch.

If you are a couple or family sharing the same Apple ID, this may not be the best feature to turn on, especially if you have different tastes in books or apps. And having music synchronize to all devices can quickly run you out of storage space, especially if the device has 16 GB or 32 GB of storage. But if you are the only one using that Apple ID or if you have the storage space to spare, these settings can save time downloading each new purchase to each new device.

How to Turn on Touch ID for Downloads

Another time-saving feature found in these settings is the ability to use Touch ID, which is Apple's fingerprint sensor technology, to download apps from the App Store.

Touch ID on iPad

To turn on this setting, open the Settings app, choose Touch ID & Passcode, enter your passcode when prompted, then tap the iTunes & App Store toggle switch. Flip the switch next to iPhone or iPad Unlock to use your Touch ID to unlock the device.