Updating iPhone apps to their latest versions is always a good idea — app developers put out new updates to fix bugs and introduce new features all the time. But what can you do when your iPhone apps won’t update? Read on to find out what’s really going on when your iPhone apps won’t update and learn some simple ways you can fix an iPhone app that won’t download from the comfort of your own home.
There are two types of people in the world: those who don’t mind dozens of little red notifications on their iPhones, and those who can’t rest easily until every last bubble alerting them to an update, email, or message is taken care of.
I fall into the second group. Any time my App Store icon gets a telltale red bubble alerting me to an iPhone app update, I jump to get the latest version faster than you can say “Twitter.”
So you can imagine my frustration, and I can imagine yours, when those iPhone apps won’t update. This is a problem that plagues a lot of iPhone users. Thankfully, there are plenty of tricks to try when your apps won’t update on an iPhone, and I’m here to help.
No Room for Updates or New Apps
Apps take up space on your iPhone. If you’re having trouble downloading updates or a new app, a lack of memory might be to blame.
The amount of room you have for apps on your iPhone depends on the kind of iPhone you purchased. The iPhone 7, for example, comes in 32 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB varieties.
Note: GB stands for gigabyte. That’s a unit of measurement for digital data. In this case, it’s used to describe the room your iPhone has to store pictures, apps, messages, and other information.
You can check the amount of storage on your iPhone by going to Settings -> General -> Storage and iCloud Usage. You will see how much storage is used and how much is available. If you’re curious about which apps are swallowing up your storage space, tap on Manage Storage. This will show you a list of apps and how much memory they are using.
How To Make Space For App Updates
If you’re almost out of space, you won’t be able to update iPhone apps or download new ones. It’s easy to remove apps to make room for new ones. Just hold down your finger on any app until the app icons start to shake and get little X shapes in the upper left corner. Tap the X on an app, and you’ll get a prompt to remove it.
Text or iMessage conversations, pictures, and videos are other potential memory hogs. Delete lengthy text conversations and move media to your computer to save space on your iPhone.
Once you clear up room on your iPhone, try downloading the iPhone app update again. That may solve the problem.
My iPhone Apps Still Won’t Update
if you have plenty of room on your iPhone, or you made more space and the iPhone app still won’t update, move on to the next step.
Try Reinstalling the App
If the app pauses while downloading, or is having a software issue, that may be the reason your update won’t install. You can uninstall the app and reinstall it by following the same steps you would use to make space for the update. Reinstalling the app will remove your user data from the app, so make sure you save any information you need to log back in.
- Hold your finger down on the app icon and wait for it to shake.
- Click the X in the upper left-hand corner to uninstall the app.
- Turn you iPhone off for at least 30 seconds, then turn it back on.
- Visit the App Store and search for the app you just deleted.
- Download the app again.
Could Your Internet Connection Be to Blame?
To download an iPhone app update, you need to be connected to either Wi-Fi or a cellular network, and your phone has to know that it’s okay to use that connection to download the app update.
Check the Internet Connection
Using a Wi-Fi network to download app updates is great because it doesn’t use your cellular data plan, and because apps and app updates that are 100 megabytes or more may only download on Wi-Fi.
You can find out if your iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi network by going to Settings -> Wi-Fi. The box next to the Wi-Fi option should be green, and the name of the network you’re on should appear right below it.
If you aren’t connected to Wi-Fi, tap the box next to the Wi-Fi option to turn on Wi-Fi. Choose a network from the list of local Wi-Fi options. Try your download again once you’re connected.
Use the Network to Update Apps
If you don’t have Wi-Fi, you can use your cellular network connection to download apps. To check your cellular connection, tap Cellular in the Settings menu. The box next to Cellular Data should be green.
While you’re there, check to make sure Roaming is set to Voice & Data under the Cellular Data Options menu. That makes sure you can connect to the network even if your iPhone thinks you’re outside of your home area.
Note: Most U.S. cellular plans don’t charge extra for roaming as long as you are in the country. If you have questions about roaming charges or what your plan covers, check with your carrier or read our article called What Are Cellular and Data Roaming On iPhone?.
Turn On Cellular Data
Updating apps can use a lot of data. Keep an eye on downloads and your usage to avoid going over your data plan. To use your cellular network to download an iPhone app update, go to Settings -> Cellular and make sure the option is on.
After that, you need to make sure the app store will allow you to download apps over cellular. Go to Setting -> iTunes & App Stores. Make sure the box next to Use Cellular Data is turned on.
That will automatically use your cell provider network to download iPhone app updates when they are available.
Try Airplane Mode
Some people who have trouble with iPhone apps that won’t download have better luck when they turn Airplane Mode on and back off again.
To do this, tap the toggle next to Airplane Mode in the Settings menu. Wait about half a minute, then tap the toggle again to turn Airplane Mode off.
Reset Your Network Settings
One final trick to try to make sure your connection isn’t the problem is wiping all of your network settings. This will make your iPhone forget the Wi-Fi network it’s using. It’ll also put any connection settings back to the way they came when the iPhone was new. If a connection setting is to blame for iPhone apps that won’t update, this should fix the problem.
You’ll have to log back in to your Wi-Fi network, so have your password handy. To reset your network settings, go to Settings -> General -> Reset -> Reset Network Settings.
Trouble With the App Store
Sometimes iPhone apps won’t update because there is trouble with the App Store. While it’s unlikely, the App Store server can go down. You can check to see if Apple is having trouble with the App Store by checking their system status website.
Stop and Restart the App Store
If the App Store is up, a setting or software issue may be the reason your iPhone apps won’t download. To correct those, first try closing the App Store app and reopening it. To do this, tap the Home button twice. Move your finger up the screen in an upward flicking motion to stop and close any apps that are currently open, including the App Store. Then reopen the app, and try updating your iPhone apps again.
Check Your Apple ID
Still not working? Make sure you’re logged in to the App Store with the right Apple ID and try logging out of the App Store and back in. To do this:
- Open the App Store.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap your Apple ID.
- Choose Sign Out.
- Close the App Store app following the directions above.
- Open the App Store and log back in.
Clear App Store Cache
Like other apps, the App Store keeps a backup of the information it frequently uses, so it can work faster. But problems with this cache of information can cause issues in the App Store, like keeping your iPhone apps from updating.
To clear your App Store cache, open the app and then tap on one of the tabs at the bottom of the screen 10 times in a row. Make sure you tap the same spot 10 times in a row. The screen should flash blank and then the app will reload automatically.
Update Apps With iTunes
If updating your iPhone apps on the phone just isn’t working, you can try updating apps with iTunes.
To do this, make sure you have the most recent version of iTunes installed on your computer, and follow these steps.
- Launch iTunes.
- Connect your iPhone to the computer using a USB cord.
- Choose Apps. This is on the upper left hand side of the program.
- Select Updates near the top middle of the screen. This screen will show you all the app updates available for your iPhone.
- In the bottom right-hand corner, choose Update All Apps. This will only be an option if there are apps that need to be updated.
- Sit back and watch iTunes update your apps!
Be Gone, App Update Notifications!
If you’ve tried all of these things, and nothing seems to be working, you can wipe your iPhone and restore it. This will remove all of your settings and apps from the iPhone. You’ll have to set it up again like new. If you do this, use this step to selectively reinstall apps one at a time. It’s possible that an app on your iPhone was keeping your updates from installing.
Dealing with iPhone apps that won’t update can be frustrating. But now you have the tools and tricks you need to fix this problem. Do you have another favorite way to get iPhone apps to update? Let us know in the comments!