Downloads and Updates: Automatic Downloads
When the iPhone and iPad were first introduced they were initially very dependent on iTunes running on a Mac for making purchases and transferring files. You'd use iTunes on the Mac to buy apps, music and video, and then download them onto your iOS devices using ye olde USB cable.
However, our mobile devices are now much more sophisticated and self-contained, which means that people can end up making purchases on several different devices. I still tend to buy music on my iMac at home, but I download apps directly onto my iPhone all the time, and buy books and magazines on my iPad when I'm slumped on the sofa at home. To help keep track of all your purchases, iOS 8 includes an option called Automatic Downloads, which is tucked inside the iTunes And App Store section of the main Settings panel.
There are four options here, for music, apps, books and software updates. Turning any of these options on ensures that items you purchase on one device are automatically downloaded onto other devices as well. I recently bought the new Muse album, Drones, using iTunes on my Mac. It's not their best album, but it has its moments so I've turned on the Music option in Automatic Downloads, which ensures that the album is automatically downloaded onto my iPhone without me needing to plug it into my Mac.
There's no option to automatically download video files, as the downloads take up too much time and storage space on your mobile devices. However, even smaller audio files and app downloads could still bust your phone's monthly data cap, so this settings panel also includes an option to turn off 'cellular data' (mobile broadband) for automatic downloads. This ensures that you only download purchases when your device is connected to a wifi network. There's a corresponding option in iTunes on the Mac, hidden away in the Store tab of the iTunes preferences panel. This will automatically download any purchases that you make on your iOS devices onto your Mac - and your Mac can also download video purchases that may be too big to keep on your iPhone or iPad.
Downloads and Updates: Suggested Apps
Right at the bottom of the iTunes And App Store settings panel is a not-very-well-known option called Suggested Apps. If you're out and about with your iPhone, this option can use GPS to keep track of your location and can suggest apps that might be useful in that location. If you turn on My Apps, your iPhone will just look at the apps you already have installed - such as a Starbucks app for ordering and paying for coffee - and display the icon for that app on your lock screen so that you can launch it right away. The App Store option also allows your iPhone to check on the App Store to see if there are other apps available that might be useful, such as airline schedules when you arrive at an airport.
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