Can iPhone Apps Be Used on Multiple Devices?

Do I Have to Pay Twice?

buy apps for every iOS device?
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No one wants to buy the same thing twice if they can avoid it, even if that thing is as cheap as an app. If you've got more than one iPhone or iPod touch, you may have wondered whether apps you buy from the App Store work on all of your devices or whether you need to buy the app for each device.

iPhone App Licensing: The Apple ID Is Key

I've got good news for you: iOS apps that you've bought or downloaded from the App Store can be used on every compatible iOS device you own.

This is true as long as all of your devices use the same Apple ID, that is.

When you buy an app, that purchase is made using your Apple ID (just like when you buy a song or movie or other content). Your Apple ID is granted the ability to use that app. So, when you try to install or run that app, the iOS checks to see if the device you're trying to run it on is logged into the Apple ID used to buy it originally. If it is, everything will work as expected.

So, just make sure that all of your devices are logged into the same Apple ID, and that the same Apple ID was used to buy all the apps you want to install on your devices, and you'll be fine.

Automatically Download Apps to Multiple Devices

One way to easily install apps on multiple devices is to turn on the iOS's automatic download feature. With this, anytime you buy an app on one of your iOS devices, the app is automatically installed on other compatible devices.

This uses data, so if you have a small data plan or like to keep an eye on your data use, you may not want this. Otherwise, follow these steps to turn on automatic downloads:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap iTunes & App Store
  3. In the Automatic Downloads section, move the Apps slider to on/green
  4. Repeat these steps on every device you want apps to be automatically added to.

    Apps and Family Sharing

    There's one exception to the rule mentioned above about apps needing to be used with the Apple ID that bought them: Family Sharing.

    Family Sharing is a feature of iOS 7 and up that lets people in one family connect their Apple IDs and then share their iTunes and App Store purchases. This way, if a parent buys a song, their kids can add that song to their devices without having to pay for it again. This applies to music, books, apps, movies, and other iTunes Store content.

    To learn more about Family Sharing, check out these articles:

    Most apps are available in Family Sharing, but not all of them are. To check whether an app can be shared, go to its page in the App Store and look for the Family Sharing information in the Details section.

    In-app purchases and subscriptions aren't shared via Family Sharing.

    Redownloading Apps from iCloud

    Syncing apps from your computer is one way to get an app onto multiple iOS devices. If you don't want to sync, or don't use your iPhone with a computer, there's another option: redownloading purchases from iCloud.

    Every purchase you make is stored in your iCloud account.

    It's like an automatic, cloud-based back up of your data that you can access whenever you want to download something.

    To redownload apps from iCloud, follow these steps:

    1. Make sure the device you want to download the app onto is logged into the Apple ID used to buy the app originally
    2. Tap the App Store app
    3. Tap Updates in the bottom right corner
    4. Tap Purchased
    5. Tap Not on This iPhone to see all apps you've bought that aren't installed here. Alternatively, swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the search bar
    6. When you've found the app you want to install, tap the iCloud icon (the cloud with the down-arrow in it) to download and install it.