How to Transfer Apps from an iPhone to iPad

The iCloud makes it easy move apps to your iPad

Customer paying by using smart phone contactless
Sunwoo Jung / Getty Images

If you've purchased a large number of apps on your iPhone, you may be wondering what will happen when you upgrade to the iPad. The iPhone and the iPad both run versions of iOS, which is Apple's operating system designed for mobile devices. The tablet's operating system is now called iPadOS, but it still shares much in common with the iPhone's system.

The newest version of Apple TV also runs a version of iOS called tvOS. Most apps are compatible with both the iPhone and the iPad. 

Instructions in this article apply to devices running iOS 8 and later.

Types of Apps in the App Store

When it comes to compatibility, three kinds of apps are available in the App Store:

  • Universal: These work on both the iPhone and the iPad. When running on an iPad, universal apps conform to the larger screen. Oftentimes, this means a brand new interface. 
  • iPhone-Only: A few apps are designed specifically for the iPhone, especially older ones. These can still run on the iPad. However, they will run in iPhone compatibility mode. 
  • Phone-Specific: Finally, some apps use unique features of the iPhone, such as the ability to place phone calls. These will be unavailable to the iPad even in compatibility mode

How to Copy iPhone Apps When Setting Up Your iPad

If you're buying your first iPad, the best way to transfer apps to it is during the setup process. To bring over apps from your phone, create a backup before you set up the tablet. Next, during the setup of the iPad, choose to restore from the backup you made of the iPhone.

The restore function during the setup process doesn't actually copy the apps from the backup file. Instead, it downloads them again from the App Store. This process will keep you from needing to manually download the app.

You can also choose to enable automatic downloads. This feature will download apps purchased on the iPhone to the iPad and vice versa. 

How to Copy an iPhone App to the iPad Without Restoring

If you aren't setting up a new iPad, you'll need to download the app from the App Store manually.

It's free to download an app to multiple devices so long as you are downloading the same app. If the app is universal, it will run great on the iPad. If the app has an iPhone version and a specific iPad version, you can still download the iPhone version to your iPad. 

  1. Open the App Store by tapping the icon.

    The App Store app on an iPad
  2. On the Today tab, tap your picture.

    The Today tab in the App Store on iPad
  3. Tap Purchased.

    Account page in App Store on iPad
  4. If you're using Family Sharing, tap a name on the next screen to pull up the apps that Apple ID has purchased.

  5. Tap Not on this iPad to restrict the results to apps you don't already have installed.

    Not on this iPad button in App Store
  6. Scroll down, or use the search bar, to locate the app you want to install.

  7. Tap the Download button (it looks like a cloud) to install an app from the list.

What If I Still Can't Find the App?

Unfortunately, there are still a few iPhone-only apps out there. Most of these are old, but there are still a few newer and useful apps that only work on the iPhone. The most popular of these is the WhatsApp Messenger. WhatsApp uses SMS to send text messages, and because the iPad only supports iMessage and similar text messaging apps rather than SMS, WhatsApp simply won't run on the iPad.