I believe it’s still possible to sync apps to iDevices from your iTunes library
as of iOS 10. I just successfully copied an older version of the Tile app from
my Mac to my iPhone. Once the sync process began, the app showed up on my home
screen and displayed “loading” just as it would if it were being downloaded
from iCloud, but I’m pretty sure it was in fact copying from my local library
and iTunes displayed status info to verify this. Now I’ve successfully rolled
back the app to the older version.
Based on this, I think we can continue to sync apps from iTunes keeping in mind
the following caveats:
1. You can’t ever copy in the other direction (from an iDevice to iTunes) due
to app thinning. However, from the Store tab in the iTunes preferences window
you can configure your computers to download newly purchased apps
automatically, thus giving you a local copy in iTunes that can be used later.
2. The auto-download feature won’t keep apps up to date. For example, if you
have automatic downloads on and purchase BlindSquare for the first time, a
local copy will download to your computers but future updates won’t
automatically download—even if you update on your iDevice. To work around this,
you can manually update from the apps section within iTunes. So, if you’ve kept
your favourite reading app up to date from the apps section in iTunes and then
a new version comes out that breaks accessibility, you should be able to roll
3. I’m not sure what the situation is for devices restored from iTunes backups
and would love if someone could investigate during their next restore. I
listened to Jonathan’s podcast and it certainly seemed like apps were being
downloaded from iCloud so I’m not sure whether there’s a workaround there or
what might have been happening. However, that would make sense if the required
content wasn’t available in the iTunes library to begin with or if iTunes
wasn’t configured to copy apps to the phone.
Would love to hear your thoughts.
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