Upgrading to iOS 6 or setting up your new iPhone 5 (or iPod Touch and iPad for the matter) can be a right mess if you don't get organised. Don't worry just yet. Even if you lose some of your favourite apps in the process, there is an easy way to recover your missing apps or those that you might have accidentally deleted.
As you might know already, most of Apple's fancy services are tied to your Apple ID, this is the same username and password you use to buy music on iTunes and apps on the App Store. Whenever you setup a new device you're presented with some configuration screens asking you for some basic information about you and your personal preferences: select your home Wi-Fi, your Apple ID password to update iCloud, the use of location services and on iPad the chance to link your mobile number to iMessages for texting.
If you just bought a new iPhone 5 you have done this already and there's no reason to panic. iOS will ask you for this information automatically whenever it's needed. When it comes to recovering those deleted apps, you have two options.
Connect to iTunes to sync with your PC or Mac
In addition to being a multi-purpose media player and entertainment store, iTunes is also the software used to synchronise the information on your Apple gadgets. From the App Store window you can native through the store and as long as you have entered your username and password, iTunes will know what content you already own. Notice how instead of a buy button you are simply asked to download. Once you download the app, plug your iPhone and select on the apps menu to synchronise the device.
Looking for every individual app can be quite time-consuming, so you can also go directly to your purchase history. In iTunes 10.7 the easiest way to find this is to go to the iTunes Store homepage and scroll all the way to the bottom. Under a list called features (very tiny text!) you can find the *Purchased option.
Over here you get a very useful navigation window where you can toggle the type of content you're looking for, apps in this case, sort them and select those that aren't available in this computer.
Recovering apps the post-PC way
The latest iOS 6 changed the App Store design but everything stays where it used to be. It's only a matter of digging to find the same options I just mentioned. The advantage using this method is that the apps download automatically to your iPhone or iPad instead of iTunes on your PC. This can be sometimes much slower and also more tedious if you have several devices, but the result is absolutely worth it.
On your iPhone, launch the App Store and look for the black tab on the lower right corner that says updates. Here you get a list of the apps that have a newer version available. At the top of the list you get the Purchased option to find all the apps you previously bought using that Apple ID.
On the iPad this option is right on the menubar between Genius and Updates. The navigation view isn't as refined as the desktop version but you can still toggle between all the apps you own and those that are not installed at the moment.
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