Understanding Apps, Updates, and Backups

Apps are a crucial part of making the most of your iPhone / iPad, but where do you get them, how do you delete them, and how do you keep them updated? This guide covers all the App basics, plus System Software Updates and Backing Up your device.

Finding New Apps

Apps are downloaded from the App Store app. This is Apple's official store, containing free and purchasable apps, and each app has been checked by Apple for safety prior to allowing it to be sold. You cannot download apps from any other source, only the App Store. To find a specific new App, click the Search button. On an iPad, you have Filters. These adjust the search for “iPad only” or “iPhone only” apps. If you know an app exists but you don't see it under iPad only, change the filter to iPhone only. If the developer only released one version of the app, and it's for iPhone AND iPad, it will still be under the iPhone ONLY filter.

Apps you already have on your device will say Open. Apps you've previously purchased (paid or free) but aren't currently on your device have a cloud symbol. Free apps say GET (often paired with "In-App Purchases" indicating there are things to buy within the app but the app itself is free). Click GET on an app you want, then Install. You may have to enter your password but you are usually offered the option to save password for Free apps. Paid apps have a Price. To buy, simply click the Price and then enter your Apple ID password to confirm the Purchase. You can use your fingerprint to authorise app store purchases (Settings - Touch ID and Passcode - Use Touch ID For and turn on iTunes and App Store), but be warned this authorises free or paid purchases so don't touch the price of a paid app and then accidentally put your thumb on the home button because it will purchase it.

(If you do accidentally purchase something, don't panic, go to https://reportaproblem.apple.com/ and log in with your Apple ID, click Report a Problem next to the purchase (it takes a few minutes for it to stop saying Pending), and select your issue from the dropdown and you will be issued a refund).

If you're not sure what you want to download or you're looking for something new, check out the Apps or Games tabs in the App Store – scroll down to find lists of the Top Paid and Top Free apps, suggestions, categories, etc.


Updating Apps

To update an app, open the App Store application and click Updates. Choose specific apps to update, or Update All. Apps can also be set to update automatically when the device is charging and connected to Wifi. It's enabled by default, but to check it go to:

Settings – iTunes and App Store – and make sure Updates is ON.

Why are updates important? They fix bugs and potential security issues. It's important to keep them up-to-date.


Updating the Operating System

While we're on the subject, it's very important to keep your operating system up-to-date as well. Apple will prompt you when there's an update, and if you hit Later it will ask for your lock screen password in order to schedule the update for the evening, if the phone is charging and on wifi. However, if you want to check or you managed to evade the update notice, go to Settings – General – Software Update. If it knows there is an update, a red 1 will appear (as in my photo). Click install. Otherwise it will say “Your software is up to date.”


Organising and Deleting Apps

Ok, now that you have some apps, how do you organize them? From the Home screen, swipe left and right to view the pages of your apps.

To move an app, press and hold it on the home screen until all the apps start to “dance” and have an X at the corner. Hold and drag to move them around. Press the "X" to permanently delete an app and its data. Drag an app down to the Dock to have it available no matter what page of apps you are on (iPhone) or to access by swiping up once for easy multitasking (iPad). 

While the apps are dancing, drag one app over the top of another to create a “folder” of apps. Click on the folder to rename it or view / move the apps inside it. To take an app out of a folder, drag the app up out of the folder and and hold until you see the home screen. 

When you are happy with the new app arrangements, press the Home button to set it and stop the dancing.

If you need to re-download a deleted app, go to the App Store and search for it again. 

You can also search for an installed app by Swiping Down from the home screen to access Spotlight. Then type in the name of the app you're looking for.


Backing Up Your Device

YES, you need to back up your device. Yes, even you. Yes, do it RIGHT NOW. Please. There are two methods: iCloud and iTunes. I use a combination. Here are the options in more detail:

Automatic iCloud Backup: Go to Settings – click on your apple ID at the top – Click on iCloud – scroll down to iCloud Backup and turn it on.

It will back up when your phone is locked (not being actively used), on wifi, and plugged in. At the top of iCloud settings, you can Manage Storage (see what's using the most space) and see the Apps Using iCloud. If you can't back up because you are out of space, I recommend turning off Photos and instead manually importing them to your computer Photos app. This allows you to use the free 5GB of space Apple gives to automatically back up all of your contacts, documents, etc. However, if you don't take many photos or videos, I RECOMMEND LEAVING PHOTOS ON. If you do take a lot of Photos and Videos AND you want them automatically backed up, you can always purchase more iCloud space from Apple. 

iTunes Backup: Plug your device into your computer using the USB cable, launch iTunes, then click on the symbol of your iPhone or iPad, then click Manually Back Up. Leave it set to automatically back up to iCloud as well as having the full Manual backup. 

I tend to do a full manual backup to my computer every time I've got important things on my device (like I've created new artwork in Procreate), I regularly import my photos to my computer via the Photos computer application, and then I leave everything but Photos and Procreate (both are space hogs) backing up automatically to iCloud. When in doubt, email, Airdrop, or DropBox important documents and photos to yourself. 

DO NOT IGNORE THE OPTION TO BACK UP! You will thank me later 🙂 

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