How to manually or automatically update apps on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch

In every app update, the developer introduces new features, fixes existing bugs, or improves compatibility with the operating system (iOS, iPadOS, or watchOS). Having the latest version of an app ensures the newest features, improved security, and the best experience. Here are the steps to update apps on your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch via the App Store.

Apple App Store logo with pending updates in red badge

How to update apps on iPhone and iPad

Up to iOS 12, the App Store had an “Updates” tab at the bottom. But starting with iOS 13, the “Arcade” tab replaced the “Updates” tab. Still, the steps to get the latest version of an iPhone app is quick and easy, as shown in these steps:

1) Open the App Store and tap your profile picture from the top-right.

2) Pull down the Account screen to refresh it.

3) Under Available Updates, tap Update next to an app.

4) You may also tap Update All to update all applications at once.

Steps to update apps on iPhone

If you don’t see any app here, that means all apps are up-to-date. This may be because of automatic updates that handles this in the background.

The apps whose updates you have recently installed are listed underneath the heading Updated Recently.

Pro tip: A quick way to access the updates section is by pressing the App Store icon on the Home Screen or App Library and selecting Updates.

How to disable or enable automatic app updates on iPhone and iPad

When you have lots of apps, it’s better to let your device update them frequently and automatically. The automatic app updates feature is turned on by default. But if you want the controls in your hands, here’s how to turn off or turn on automatic app updates on your iPhone or iPad:

1) Open Settings and tap App Store.

2) Under Automatic Downloads, enable or disable the switch for App Updates.

Automatic App Updates on iPhone

How to update apps on your Apple Watch

Apps on your Apple Watch update automatically. But if you turned this feature off or wish to install an update now (before your Watch has done this for you), follow these steps:

1) Press the Digital Crown to see all your apps. From here, tap the App Store icon.

2) Scroll down or use the Digital Crown to go to the bottom of the screen and tap Account.

3) From the bottom, tap Updates.

4) Tap Update next to the app name.

Update Apple Watch apps directly from the watch

Important: If you have installed the watchOS version of an iPhone app, it updates automatically when you update that iOS app. For example, if you update the Google Maps app on your iPhone, its Watch version is also updated without you having to do anything.

Apple Watch App Store shows “No Updates”

In my testing, I found that even when you have pending app updates, the Updates section in the Apple Watch App Store may say, “No Updates. All your apps are up to date.” It says the same after you force quit the App Store app on your Apple Watch or restart it.

Updating Apple Watch apps using the iPhone or automatic updates seem more reliable. On iPhone, you can pull down the updates screen to refresh it. But on Apple Watch, this isn’t there. So, sometimes you won’t see updates available here, even though there are. It’s also possible that there is a bug in watchOS 8.1 that I’m currently on. By the time you read this, the problem may be fixed.

How to turn off or turn on automatic app updates for Apple Watch

Just like iPhone, automatic app updates are enabled for your Apple Watch. However, if you would like to switch off this feature or vice versa, here are the steps:

From your Apple Watch

1) Open the Settings app.

2) Scroll down and tap App Store.

3) Enable or disable Automatic Updates.

Automatic app updates on Apple Watch

From your iPhone

1) Open the iOS Watch app on your paired iPhone.

2) Tap App Store.

3) Enable or disable Automatic Updates.

Automatic Apple Watch app updates option in Watch app

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