Tips: Bring back iOS app management to the Mac with iMazing 2.5.1

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2017
An update to the iOS backup and management application aims to restore the app synchronization functionality that iTunes ditched -- for free.




For years there's been an outcry saying that iTunes is a bloated mess that tries to do too much -- but as soon as Apple removes a feature, we're complaining. The update to iTunes 12.7 dropped the ability to download and manage your iOS apps on your Mac, and with it, complaints lamenting the feature's loss. An update to iOS app management tool iMazing wants to fix that.

With iMazing 2.5.1, you can get any or all of your apps from the App Store and save them on your Mac. So long as you own the apps, they are yours to download, backup and install as you need.




That's a bigger deal than it may sound because apps do vanish. In theory you can go to the App Store and re-download, for free, any app you've ever bought. In practice, Apple or developers do remove apps permanently.

With iTunes as it was and iMazing as it is, you can have those apps on your Mac and reinstall them to your iOS device whenever you want.

It's a boon when you're setting up or changing several iOS devices at once. It's also excellent for when you want to see how much room apps, videos, music or anything else is taking up on that device.

The new iMazing will show you how much space is being used and by what. You can then backup the data, delete some apps, clear space for others and then install what you need.

You can also keep previous versions of apps on your Mac's drive so if an update goes wrong, you can revert to the older one while you wait for the developer to fix it.




This is really what iMazing has been doing from the start. It hasn't been waiting 2.5.1 versions for iTunes to drop this feature. It's an iOS device management tool.

What's new is this app management service -- and it's free. The full iMazing 2.5.1 app costs $39.99 but this new iTunes replacement feature is in the free trial and won't expire. The company says that these are functions we all used to get for free with iTunes so they don't think they should charge either.

They also point out that Apple could in theory block iMazing from doing what it now does. There's no security issue, it's not breaking the App Store or getting you apps you don't already own. Still, it is accessing what you previously could only get to via iTunes so it is possible this functionality will be blocked in the future -- but that would likely cause problems with other device management systems, so we don't think it's going away any time soon.

Even while it isn't, though, and even while iMazing is doing a good thing, it's not complete.

The most pressing issue is to do with apps you've deleted before installing iMazing. While iMazing can retrieve any app you own from the App Store, it can't tell you what you owned. It can't give you a list of your past purchases. You have to know the name of an app and search for it. Then iMazing can tell you whether you've owned it before or not.

If you were someone who used iTunes to manage your iOS apps, you probably used it to arrange them too. In iTunes you could move apps around on your Mac and have them be moved on your iOS device. Rearrange your front screen, fiddle with your dock, group apps into folders: you could do all of that and now you can't.

You probably didn't do that every morning and you probably didn't retrieve old apps every afternoon so you may not even have noticed that iTunes has changed. You will have noticed if you ever clicked on a website's link to an app and now seen that it may try and fail to open iTunes but that's also something iMazing can't help with.




Consequently what iMazing 2.5.1 has added is small but when you need it, you need it. Plus iMazing in general is really a much broader tool that brings you greater control over backing up and extracting data from your iOS devices.

So these new features are a good service that the developers are bringing to customers -- and it's also an excellent introduction to all that iMazing can do.

You can get iMazing directly from the official website where it costs $39.99 for a single user for macOS if you want all the features beyond app backup and sync. There is also a Windows version 2.3.9 which the makers say will have these iTunes features added soon.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 229member
    A very good tip Mike, again. I’m gonna use it!
  • Reply 2 of 30
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,583member
    This seems like a nice app. Personally I used these missing iTunes features fairly often so I'm pretty miffed at Apple for removing them - and I almost never say that.  With all the software engineers on staff, how hard would it have been to either re-use or recreate these features in a simple stand alone app?  The cost would not have been significant and people who used these tools would have been happy.

    I'll give iMazing a look see.
    baconstang
  • Reply 3 of 30
    ajlajl Posts: 86member
    The only thing I complain about the iTunes 12.7 loss is the fact that if an app becomes free for a limited time but is not compatible with the iPhone I own "in a given time", then I cannot obtain the app, in any way. Until iTunes 12.6.2, I could obtain a discounted app, even if it was not compatible with the device I own (example, an app that uses ARKit), and kept the app "frozen" until a new device were bought (maybe for Christmas)... My 2 cents.
    baconstangoneof52jony0
  • Reply 4 of 30
    stukestuke Posts: 66member
    I agree. As a father who managed/manages a household of Apple iDevices from wife to youngest, iTunes 12.7 was-/is a big disappointment. I own iMazing and can verify that the new features are quite welcome in my Apple world. Just try to find some app on iOS. It’s nothing like what it was in iTunes. And look at the leading terrible example of iBooks...stripped away versions ago for a standalone version that to this day can’t sync my PDFs properly and confuses the heck out of me when it’s STILL controlled inside iTunes. Again, with all the engineers at Apple, one needs to worry about organization in those engineering ranks. Jony...set this straight.

    P.S.  Jony, bring back Aperture Pro 4.0 while you’re at it!
    viclauyycdewme
  • Reply 5 of 30
    macguimacgui Posts: 769member
    I use an older version of iT so this 'feature' of the latest versions hasn't bit me yet. It will when I get a new phone, I think, unless iT 12.6 will work with it.

    I understand why Apple is doing this, at least in part. It's weeding out abandoned and apps that are no longer supported. But the lack of ability to manage supported apps (which iT has never really been great at in the first place) is disappointing.
    baconstang
  • Reply 6 of 30
    I'll tell you one thing that's not going away any time soon...iTunes 12.6 on my iMac.
    EVERYONE uses apps and needs to manage them.  
    I never use podcasts or books, yet that crap is still cluttering up my iTunes.
  • Reply 7 of 30
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,875administrator
    I'll tell you one thing that's not going away any time soon...iTunes 12.6 on my iMac.
    EVERYONE uses apps and needs to manage them.  
    I never use podcasts or books, yet that crap is still cluttering up my iTunes.
    AFAIK, it'll go away if you get an iPhone X.
  • Reply 8 of 30
    I'll tell you one thing that's not going away any time soon...iTunes 12.6 on my iMac.
    EVERYONE uses apps and needs to manage them.  
    I never use podcasts or books, yet that crap is still cluttering up my iTunes.
    AFAIK, it'll go away if you get an iPhone X.
    I have zero interest in a phone that doesn't fit in my pocket.
    I have a sinking feeling I'm going to be using my SE for a loooong time.

    I'm staying away from High Sierra because it will probably sneak 12.7 in on me.
    edited November 2017
  • Reply 9 of 30
    oneof52oneof52 Posts: 109member
    I use iMazing now.  I really like it.  I suspect Apple will be releasing its own version in the future.
  • Reply 10 of 30
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,292member
    Yeah, at first I was a bit shocked when I noticed that iTunes dropped this feature, but then I wondered why I needed it.  Does a full backup of the iPhone include the apps?  If so, then I don't see the big deal.   If not, then I can see a problem if something happens to the phone and paid apps disappear.  Free apps can always be re-downloaded.  

    The disadvantage of the old feature was that if one primarily updated apps on the iPhone, when you synched, it took forever to update the apps on the Mac.   

    But one thing I did like in the old feature was the ability to move the apps around on the home page(s) easier than on the iPhone.   
  • Reply 11 of 30
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,108member

    For years there's been an outcry saying that iTunes is a bloated mess that tries to do too much -- but as soon as Apple removes a feature, we're complaining. The update to iTunes 12.7 dropped the ability to download and manage your iOS apps on your Mac, and with it, complaints lamenting the feature's loss. 
    Well sure. iTunes is/was a bloated mess. But instead of breaking iTunes up and having a stand alone app management tool, Apple just ditched app management altogether. An app management tool is a better option than just Iveing software.
    iMazing is like something that should have been done by Apple in the first place and I hope it doesn’t become victim of some Apple vengeance.

    Ive 
    v. Ived, Iveing, Ives
    1. To aggressively remove hardware or software features in pursuit of a goal of minimalist perfection.
    2. To go too far in reducing functionality in pursuit of minimalist perfection.
    edited November 2017 baconstang
  • Reply 12 of 30
    vadimyuryevvadimyuryev Posts: 117member, editor
    I'll tell you one thing that's not going away any time soon...iTunes 12.6 on my iMac.
    EVERYONE uses apps and needs to manage them.  
    I never use podcasts or books, yet that crap is still cluttering up my iTunes.
    AFAIK, it'll go away if you get an iPhone X.
    I have zero interest in a phone that doesn't fit in my pocket.
    I have a sinking feeling I'm going to be using my SE for a loooong time.

    I'm staying away from High Sierra because it will probably sneak 12.7 in on me.
    skinny jeans?
    baconstang
  • Reply 13 of 30
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    Thanks for the review. iMazing is great.
  • Reply 14 of 30
    I'll tell you one thing that's not going away any time soon...iTunes 12.6 on my iMac.
    EVERYONE uses apps and needs to manage them.  
    I never use podcasts or books, yet that crap is still cluttering up my iTunes.
    AFAIK, it'll go away if you get an iPhone X.
    I have zero interest in a phone that doesn't fit in my pocket.
    I have a sinking feeling I'm going to be using my SE for a loooong time.

    I'm staying away from High Sierra because it will probably sneak 12.7 in on me.
    skinny jeans?
    I tried out my GF's iP 6.  Can't sit down with it in my pocket. I wind up with a bruised groin ;)
  • Reply 15 of 30
    iMazing looks great, and I'll definitely have a look at it, but the worst loss in iTunes wasn't app management, but App Purchasing.

    It's so annoying to navigate the web on my Mac, see an app I like, click to get it, and find I have to go to the App store on my iPhone, do a search for that app, check that it's the right one, THEN get it. That used to be so simple, click and it's automatically installed on my iPhone and iPad, but no more. It's annoying to us users, but I'm sure it's also hurting developers who probably lose potential sales in the process of that annoyingness. The App store on the Mac was so much better, apart from the cross selling (& buying) from searches.

    I did love managing apps on the Mac though. It was certainly a lot easier and iMazing looks like the solution. Thanks.

    Just pondering...
    edited November 2017 baconstang
  • Reply 16 of 30
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,694member
    zoetmb said:
    Does a full backup of the iPhone include the apps? 
    Not since "app thinning" was introduced in iOS 9. What happens during a full backup is that all app settings and user data are backed up, but not the app itself. If an iPhone is then restored from backup, those settings and user data are placed on the iPhone, but the iPhone has to re-download the apps from the app store on first boot after being restored. Obviously if you've a lot of apps, this can take a long time!

    Unless, that is, you decided to turn on automatic downloads of apps in iTunes. In that case, whenever you bought an app on an iOS device, the next time you run iTunes, it would download the full (non-thinned) version of that app. If you then had to restore an iOS device from backup, you could immediately run an iTunes sync which would transfer the apps to the iPhone so it doesn't have to download them from the app store.
  • Reply 17 of 30
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,694member

    entropys said:
    Well sure. iTunes is/was a bloated mess. But instead of breaking iTunes up and having a stand alone app management tool, Apple just ditched app management altogether.
    Exactly. Very disappointing!

    Looking back at the history of iTunes, it's easy to see why it became so bloated. Apple built the iPod and iTunes brands hand-in-hand, and once the iTunes brand was strong, they wanted to keep that as a single kitchen-sink solution for managing all media and iPhone-related stuff, resulting in a bit of a mess.

    I had been hoping that Apple was intending to build the Apple Music brand so they could deprecate iTunes on desktop OSes (macOS and Windows), replacing it with a Music app, Movies app, Podcast app, App store app, and iPhone synch app. However, given they just dumped iOS app browsing/purchasing/management from macOS completely, instead of rolling it into the already-existing App store app, this seems unlikely.
  • Reply 18 of 30
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,088member

    For years there's been an outcry saying that iTunes is a bloated mess that tries to do too much -- but as soon as Apple removes a feature, we're complaining. The update to iTunes 12.7 dropped the ability to download and manage your iOS apps on your Mac, and with it, complaints lamenting the feature's loss. 
    Oh man, the irony. Just like telling the politicians to stop spending money... but don’t cut MY budget. MY budget is important and needs to be increased. Cut the other guy’s budget. I actually have iMazing 2.5.1 and it’s a wonderful utility. I originally got it in a MacUpdate software bundle a couple of years ago and it has improved with each update. It does iOS incremental backups, archives older backups, allows access to the iOS ‘file’ system and more.
    madisoy
  • Reply 19 of 30
    I'll tell you one thing that's not going away any time soon...iTunes 12.6 on my iMac.
    EVERYONE uses apps and needs to manage them.  
    I never use podcasts or books, yet that crap is still cluttering up my iTunes.
    AFAIK, it'll go away if you get an iPhone X.
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208079
  • Reply 20 of 30
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,875administrator
    rs0212 said:
    I'll tell you one thing that's not going away any time soon...iTunes 12.6 on my iMac.
    EVERYONE uses apps and needs to manage them.  
    I never use podcasts or books, yet that crap is still cluttering up my iTunes.
    AFAIK, it'll go away if you get an iPhone X.
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208079
    Yeah, familiar, and we published a story about it. However, if you go through the normal upgrade channels, you can't get it. And, it's a process to downgrade from 12.7 if you already have.
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