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I just started syncing my iPad to my desktop iTunes and it's taking a very long time to "transfer purchases" from the iPad. I was under the impression that iTunes remembered all my app downloads and purchases via iCloud (and verified I could see them in iTunes) so I don't understand why iTunes would need to transfer anything off my physical device.

What exactly is it doing and why is it necessary?

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This process assumes that iCloud is not enabled.

It is possible to update apps on the device without doing so in iTunes. For this to work you will need to have enabled automatic downloads.

If you sync your iPad with iTunes without transfering purchases you coukld end up with older apps and losing the updates.

With iCloud there is no need for you to sync with iTunes, so if a device is plugged in iTunes would assume that you do not use iCloud and will transfer all the updated apps to the computer.

All in all it is more of a safety precaution if you are already using iCloud.

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I thought I needed to sync to change certain settings on the iPad; I wanted to change my contacts to Google Contacts for example. So should I disable sync over WiFi if I'm satisfied with iCloud Backup? –  Ben Brocka Jan 5 '12 at 14:04
    
Sync over WiFi syncs a backup with iCloud not iTunes. You should be OK syncing google contacts, (I'm not 100% on google contacts as I use Address Book and Contacts for mine so this needs clarifying. –  Graeme Hutchison Jan 5 '12 at 14:14
    
Weird; iTunes has a setting for the iPad that's "sync over wifi" but on the device in the iCloud menu there's also a "backup when plugged in, wifi and locked" option. Are the options doing the same thing? –  Ben Brocka Jan 5 '12 at 14:23
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