App Updates Not Showing in the iOS App Store? Here’s a Solution for iPhone & iPad
If you’ve ever launched the App Store in iOS to discover the “Updates” tab is empty, but you know for certain that an app update is widely available, you may have run into a peculiar and frustrating bug within iOS. Unlike the Mac App Store with Command+R, there is no easy way to ‘refresh’ the App Store in iOS, and while quitting out of the app sometimes works, it often doesn’t, and you’re left with an empty updates screen on the iPhone or iPad.
If you run into an empty Updates section of the App Store despite knowing with certainty that updates are available to your installed apps, try one of the two following solutions to resolve the problem and to download the newest versions of the apps in question.
Solution 1: Change the Date & Time to Trigger App Store Updates Refresh
Sometimes sending the date into the distant future and then setting it back will cause the App Store Updates section to refresh. We say sometimes because this doesn’t always work, but it’s easy so you may as well try it:
- Go to the Settings app and then to “General”
- Find “Date & Time” and turn ‘Set Automatically’ to OFF
- Toggle the date to sometime in the distant future, months ahead
- Tap back to the “General” section and wait a moment
- Relaunch the App Store and go to “Updates” – usually nothing will appear right now
- Now go back to “Settings” and back to “General” and “Date & Time”, flipping ‘Set Automatically’ back to the ON position to get back to the real date and time in iOS
- Exit out of Settings and return to the App Store app, then back to “Updates” – you should see the proper updates available now
Why this works isn’t entirely clear, but presumably it forces the App Store to rescan for available updates for the apps that are currently installed. You must have internet access for this to work, which shouldn’t be an issue for an iPhone as long as there’s either a signal or wifi connection, whereas an iPod Touch or iPad will need to be on wi-fi.
Unfortunately, that date switcheroo doesn’t work every time, so if you get stuck in a situation where the Updates section is still not showing anything, your next choice is to be a little more aggressive.
Solution 2: Delete the App & Re-Download Newest Version
The date-toggle trick didn’t work to show the newest version of the app in the App Store Updates page? Then the solution is to confirm the availability, delete the old app, then download the new one:
- Open the App Store and use the “Search” feature to find the app(s) you want to update, confirm that the newest version is available by looking at the “Version” number in the app store listing
- Go to the home screen and delete the app that is stuck on the old version
- Switch back to the App Store and download the newest version that you previously confirmed
As long as the newest version is visible in the App Store on the individual app listing page, that new version will download, despite not showing up in the “Updates” section.
I ran into this problem recently with an Instagram update, which was widely available for most users, even shown as available on the App Store page for the app, but it never properly displayed as available in the “Updates” section. The solution in this case was to delete the old Instagram app from the iPhone, then find it and re-download the newest version from the App Store. Clunky, and obviously not ideal, but it works.
This behavior is likely a bug of some sort, as it’s totally random and doesn’t happen with any certainty or under any repeatable set of conditions. An option to forcibly refresh the App Store caches and Updates list in iOS could potentially resolve the problem too (you can do that in iTunes on a Mac or PC), but in the meantime troubleshooting requires either manually trashing apps or toggling the date as described here. If you know of another trick that works to forcibly update apps when they’re not displaying in the App Store, let us know in the comments.