Why don’t automatic updates work?

I’ve posted about this before and I just don’t understand why this works so poorly.

I just manually refreshed my App Store and I have 43 app updates, some from over a week ago - and I expect it would be longer but I manually check for updates often.

My wife had an iOS update that was 6 weeks old - she old discovered it because someone sent her an emoji that her phone didn’t recognise.

This seems like a fairly universal issue - why are automatic updates so poor?

Very good question. I try to answer and would love to see more answers in this topic because it surely is a mystery to some degree.

There two different things happening here:

  1. iOS updates or OS updates in general: they take 1 to 4 weeks by design. You can get them by actively looking for those updates as soon as they are released. Otherwise, your iDevice will take 1 to 4 weeks until the update shows up and is being installed. Craig Federighi answered this question via email - about a month ago: iPhone: Here's why automatic iOS updates arrive several weeks late - it should not take 6 weeks, though…

  2. App updates. I have no idea what is going on with app updates. They seem to work eventually, but what eventually means… I really do not know. Being the geek I am, I keep looking for updates and I am installing them instantly. Your experience with a lot of updates sitting there for days if not weeks is something I can confirm. When I get hold of my mom’s iPhone there are always updates waiting to be installed - for a long, long time. And they are installed eventually. But… surely not within a short time frame. It can take weeks, too. It would be interesting if this also is a bug or if this is a conscious decision on Apple’s part, too.

What can be done to debug the situation? Well, the usual stuff. Reboot the device, turn automatic updates off and on again. And hope for the best… :wink:


There’s many factors why.

Some that I’m aware of:

  • Wifi only downloading
  • Battery level below some percentage
  • Developers can do a phased release. This means only a certain percentage of users (they choose) will receive automatic updates in order to be able to watch for errors before rolling out to all users. However! It will always show in the update section on App Store

Interesting! I did not know about that option. :slight_smile: - https://help.apple.com/app-store-connect/#/dev3d65fcee1

Interestingly I just checked my wife’s phone who never checks for updates. She had one from April 12, one from April 16, and then lots from April 20.

It might be that it works on a week old lag so developers can monitor based on manual installs as mentioned by @dustinknopoff

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iOS app updates have NEVER been automatic for me. Some times, the odd one installs itself, but pulling the refresh will instantly reveal lots of others - usually older than the one that just auto-installed. I’ve never been able to make heads or tails of it. For years now, I’ve been working from home, always on fast wifi, rarely below 70% battery level. My take: it’s not working well.

Workaround is the manual check for updates in the morning - works every time :slight_smile:

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My Mac App Store apps seem to update by themselves quite often, the problem is Safari extensions. I always have to close Safari for them, which is annoying. Edge is the same way and it updates a lot. Just close yourself Edge and take care of it.

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