How to Turn On Automatic App Updates on the iPhone/iPad

Update your iOS apps automatically when new releases are available

The iPhone and iPad have become such low-maintenance devices that they can patch apps automatically, install the latest version of apps and games, and sync new purchases across all your devices from a single download. The automatic app update feature eliminates the need to download dozens of updates on each of your devices.

Instructions in this article apply to iPadOS 14, PadOS 13, and iOS 14 through iOS 9, as noted.

How to Turn On the Automatic App Updates Feature

After the automatic app update feature is turned on, your iOS devices download updates to any apps as they become available.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    iPad with Settings app highlighted in iOS 14
  2. Tap App Store in the Settings sidebar in iPadOS 13 and iOS 13 and later, or select iTunes & App Store in the sidebar in iOS 12 through iOS 9.

    iPad settings with App Store highlighted
  3. In the Automatic Downloads section, turn on the toggle switch next to App Updates in iPadOS 13 or iOS 13 and later or next to Updates in iOS 12 through iOS 9.

    App Store settings with App Updates highlighted

With App Updates turned on, the updates occur behind the scene automatically. You no longer need to update each app on each device manually.

If your iPhone or an iPad connects to a data network, there's an option to use cellular data to download automatic updates. Some apps, especially games, could use a good chunk of your monthly data allotment. Even with an unlimited plan, cellular downloads may slow down your device for other services. Use with caution.

Automatic Downloads Section

The Automatic Downloads section also includes an On/Off slider for Apps. It works differently from the App Updates feature. When you turn on Apps, downloading a new app to any of your devices automatically downloads it to your other devices that use the same Apple ID and have the feature turned on. It does not check for updates to those apps.

The App Store Automatic Downloads section with Apps highlighted

In iOS 12 through iOS 9, the Automatic Downloads section also includes On/Off sliders for Music and Books & Audiobooks. Turning them on syncs your new music or book downloads across your devices. In iPad 13 and iOS 13 and later, those two settings moved to the Music and Books settings, respectively.

Automatic updates section in iPad settings

Automatic syncing of music and books across your devices may not be the best choice if you are a couple or family sharing the same Apple ID, especially if you have different tastes in books and music. Synchronizing music to all devices can quickly fill the storage space.

However, 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 device.

How to Turn On Face ID or Touch ID for Downloads

Another time-saving feature is the ability to use Face ID or Touch ID to download apps from the App Store.

To turn on this setting, open the Settings app, choose Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode), enter your passcode when prompted, and then tap the iTunes & App Store toggle switch to the On position.

FaceID & Passcode settings with iTunes & App Store highlighted

Flip the switch next to iPad Unlock (or iPhone Unlock) to use your Touch ID or Face ID to unlock the device.

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