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Now that iOS 9 uses app-thinning, apps downloaded on an iOS device are not transferred to iTunes during a sync. They are also not transferred when you click "Transfer Purchases", so there seems to be no way to have copies of your apps you download on your iOS device in iTunes other than by downloading them all manually in iTunes.

In previous iOS versions, you would restore an iPhone by first syncing the iPhone with iTunes to copy all of your apps to the iPhone, then restore from backup (iTunes automatically did the first step for you). Now that apps are no longer copied from your iOS device to iTunes when you sync, the apps are not available for you to copy from iTunes during the initial restore sync.

My question is, how does iTunes restore app data for these apps when it doesn't have the binaries backed up? Does it automatically download them from iCloud, or does it not restore these apps (as was the case in previous iOS versions)?

  • What exactly is your concern here: How apps are restored from backup even though no specific app backup is done by iTunes, how app data is restored without the app binary, how to remember apps you've bought ages ago, or something different? Also, sending people to another site to figure out the problem themselves usually doesn't help. If information on the linked site is relevant for the question, please summarize it directly in the question text. – nohillside Mar 7 '16 at 6:33
  • Thanks @patrix, I'll edit my question, but it is, how do I restore application data if iTunes does not backup the app binaries (so it has no binaries to restore)? Does iTunes take care of this automatically, and if so, how? And for the link, I only meant it as background, I figured someone would likely understand the iTunes backup process and wouldn't need it. – Steve Mar 7 '16 at 6:46
  • @Steve - Very apt question - Its messed up that while doing backups it does not get/ keep the FULL latest version of App {unsliced} in Backup. Any luck figuring this out – Alex S Apr 11 '16 at 6:49
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    @AlexS. I recently had to get my iPhone serviced, and had to restore it from backup. I couldn't get a straight answer from Apple, so I figured I'd try and see what happens. It seems that the iTunes restore procedure does not use the apps you have downloaded (in iTunes), but instead downloads them all from the App Store automatically directly to your device during the restore. It worked without a problem, except for paid apps that had been removed from the App Store (these apps were not restored, which was frustrating). I'll post an answer with some more details in a day or two. – Steve Apr 11 '16 at 7:00

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