Will My iPhone App Work on My iPad? And How Do I Copy It?

You can redownload previously purchased apps through the App Store's "Purchased" section.

If you have 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 iOS, which is Apple's operating system designed for mobile devices.  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.  

Universal Apps.  These apps are designed to 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 for the larger iPad.  

iPhone-Only Apps.  While most apps tend to be universal these days, there are still a few apps that are designed specifically for the iPhone.  This is even more true for older apps.  These apps can still run on the iPad.  However, they will run in iPhone compatibility mode.  

Phone-Specific Apps.  Finally, there are some apps that utilize unique features of the iPhone, such as the ability to place phone calls.  These apps will be unavailable to the iPad even in compatibility mode.  Luckily, these apps are few and far between.  

Great iPad Lessons for Beginners

How to Copy iPhone Apps When Setting Up Your iPad

If you are buying your first iPad, the best way to transfer apps to it is during the setup process.  One question you will be asked while setting up the iPad is whether or not to restore from a backup.

 If you want to bring over apps from your iPad, simply create a backup of your iPhone 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 From a Backup

If you aren't setting up a new iPad, you will need to download the app from the App Store manually. But don't worry, there is a special section of the app store devoted to previously purchased apps.  This makes it very easy to find the app and download a copy to your iPad.  

It's free to download an app to multiple devices so long as you are downloading the exact 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. First, open the Apple App Store by tapping the icon.  (Find out a fast way of opening apps!)
  2. At the bottom of the screen is a row of buttons.  Tap the "Purchased" button to bring up a list of previously purchased apps and games.
  3. A quick way to narrow down the choices is to tap the "Not on This iPad" tab at the top of the screen.  This will show apps you haven't downloaded yet.
  1. You can also search for an app using the input box at the upper-right corner of the screen.
  2. If you can't find the app, tap the "iPad Apps" link on the upper-right side of the screen.  This link is just under the search box.  Choose "iPhone Apps" from the drop-down menu to limit the list to apps that do not have an iPad version.  
  3. You can download any app from the list by tapping the cloud button that has the arrow dropping out of it.

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.