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Missing the App Store in the latest iTunes

You can no longer manage, delete or add apps to your iOS devices via iTunes 12.7. Bring the App Store back, Apple.

I have been using iTunes to backup my iPhone on my Mac computers, since the start of time.

Okay, I am exaggerating. But ever since I discovered that I can do a full backup - including photos, message history, e-mail accounts - of my old iPhone and port them to a new iPhone, I have been faithfully backing up my iPhone on my iMac every day, except when I am travelling.

Sure, you can do an iPhone backup with Apple's iCloud service. But even with a fast Wi-Fi connection, it is still going to take some time. Nothing is faster and more stable than a wired connection when you are trying to transfer your "whole life" from one iPhone to another iPhone.

This is especially so when I have over 32,000 photos and videos in my iPhone's camera roll. My iPhone backup usually goes past 190GB. If I were using iCloud for all of my backups, I would have to fork out more for iCloud storage space ($3.98 per month for 200GB).

Not to mention, with testing apps part of my job, I have accumulated over 1,000 apps on my iPhone. It is easier to manage them on the 21.5-inch display of my iMac, than on the small screen of my iPhone.

So you can imagine my shock at the bombshell that accompanied iTunes 12.7 when it was released on Sept 13. The App Store in iTunes is gone. You can no longer manage, delete or add apps to your iOS devices via iTunes.

Even when I restored my iPhone 7 Plus backup to my new iPhone X via iTunes, I had to re-download all the apps via Wi-Fi. Yes, the apps are no longer automatically transferred. This added to the amount of time needed to get my new iPhone up and running.

Already, Apple's business and enterprise customers are making noise... Apple has heard them and there is a special iTunes version (12.6.3) that brings back the App Store. But this version is available strictly for enterprise.

Previously, I usually had a new iPhone ready to go in around two hours. With iTunes 12.7, it took nearly six hours before I was able to start using my iPhone X.

It is understandable that Apple wanted to take away the fat that has bloated iTunes for so long.

The app has came a long way from being just a computer music player to being a music store, before becoming a full-fledged utility to include movie purchases, e-Book downloads and the syncing of iOS devices.

However, it would have been better for users to be able to choose if they want the App Store on iTunes, instead of taking it away abruptly.

Already, Apple's business and enterprise customers are making noise. As you might expect, they prefer the app management to be built into the software instead of re-downloading apps when there are so many devices to be deployed. Apple has heard them and there is a special iTunes version (12.6.3) that brings back the App Store. But this version is available strictly for enterprise.

Will later versions of iTunes for the masses bring back the App Store? One can only hope.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2017, with the headline 'Missing the App Store in the latest iTunes'. Print Edition | Subscribe