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

The iPhone and iPad have become such low maintenance devices that they can automatically patch apps, install the latest version of your 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. Once you turn it on, your device will download and install new versions of your apps as they become available.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 9 or later.

How to Turn on the Automatic App Updates Feature

  1. Open your iPad's Settings.

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  2. Tap iTunes & App Store in the left-side menu.

    Turn on Automatic App Updates on iPad
  3. Tap the switch next to Updates to on/green.

    Automatic updates iPad
  4. This setting won't automatically check the App Store for updates. But if you use the same apps on multiple devices that use the same Apple ID, you will only have to download it to one. So if you update an app on your iPhone, the version on 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 -- you will see 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 you have a data plan 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

Automatic updates on iPad

You can also turn on automatic downloads for music, apps, and books. These settings will allow you to 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 downloads will synchronize your 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 will automatically download 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 you only have 16 GB or 32 GB on your device. But if you are the only one using that particular Apple ID or if you have the storage space to spare, these settings can save you a lot of time downloading each new purchase to each new device.

How to Turn on Touch ID for Downloads

Another time-saving feature that you might expect to find 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

Turn this setting on by opening the Settings app, choosing Touch ID & Passcode in the left-side menu, typing in your passcode when prompted, and then tapping the on-off switch next to iTunes & App Store. Flip the switch next to iPhone or iPad Unlock to use your Touch ID to unlock your device.