Waiting iPhone apps: How to install, update, reinstall

iPhone FAQ: I have an iPhone app in a waiting state; how do I get it to finish installing or updating?

I’ve been asked this “waiting iPhone app” question many times on my How to delete/uninstall iPhone apps article, so I’ve taken the time to organize all the possible solutions I’ve seen, and put them in one place. Here then are all the different solutions I’ve found about how to get waiting iPhone apps to continue their installation or update process.

(Note: Since the iPhone, iPod, and iPad all use the same iOS operating system, these solutions will also work for waiting iPad and iPod apps.)

1) Waiting iPhone app solution: Reboot your iPhone (iPad, or iPod)

The most popular solution I’ve seen (and the most-written about solution in the comments below) for the waiting iPhone app problem is to reboot your iPhone. Here are some consolidated notes of comments about this “waiting iPhone apps” solution:

The iPhone reboot worked for me! I had about 11 apps with 'waiting' status after I pressed the 'Update' apps button. Somehow the app update process got stuck until the next day. Today, I rebooted my iPhone, and the iPhone apps finished updating themselves.

To reboot your iPhone, hold the iPhone Power button down for about five seconds, until the 'slide to power down' appears; then slide that slider over. Wait a minute or two, and then turn your iPhone back on by pressing the iPhone Power button until you see it come back on. After the reboot, the iPhone app installation/update process resumed, updating each app, one at a time. Hope this helps.

Update, April 14, 2011: I just had this “waiting” problem myself with an iPad app, and rebooting my iPad solved the problem. When the iPad rebooted, I went to look at the app icon, which was on the second screen, and by the time I scrolled over to the second screen it was already in the "Loading..." state.

2) Resume the iPhone app download

This second solution to the “iPhone app waiting” problem has also helped some iPhone owners:

"I simply resumed downloading the app that was loading. I had to 'guess' at which app got stuck, based on the ones that were loaded and the one that was missing. I then went to the app store (on the iPhone, not on the PC) and then started the download/install process for the app I thought did not download correctly. Sure enough that fixed the problem. I have no idea, however, how to figure out which app is causing the problem. I simply guessed and got it right."

So, looking at a specific example, let's assume there was a problem installing or updating the iPhone Twitter app. In this case, you'd follow these steps to fix this iPhone app waiting problem:

  1. Go to the App Store on your iPhone.
  2. Find the Twitter app.
  3. Press the 'Free' button.
  4. Press the 'Install' button.
  5. The iPhone Twitter app should be installed/reinstalled.

On newer iPhones I’m told that you can “3D Touch” to pause it and resume it, but I haven’t been able to test this yet.

3) Sign out/in to App Store

From one of the comments below, here’s another possible solution to the “iPhone waiting app” problem:

None of the above worked for me (on an iPod Touch), but what did was:

Entered App Store on the Touch, signed out of my account (at the bottom of one of the screens, e.g. "Featured"), returned to the Touch home screen, entered App Store again, signed in, waited. After a few minutes, when the activity indicator (next to the wifi strength indicator, top left) stopped, I went back to the home screen and the waiting app had gone.

Many thanks to a commenter named Graham for this possible solution.

4) Fix a waiting iPhone app: Use a different WiFi network

Digging around the internet, I’ve read several people say that this problem may be related to your WiFi network and internet access. If so, there are a couple of possible ways around this.

a) Access the internet with a physical cable instead of WiFi

In this possible solution, if the Mac or PC you connect your iPhone to has a direct cable connection to your internet provider (the cable connects from the back of the computer to the box your internet access provider gave you), connect your iPhone to your computer, and attempt to restart the waiting iPhone app through the iTunes app interface.

If this doesn't happen automatically, you can follow these steps:

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPod to your Mac or PC.
  2. Wait until the iPhone/iPod appears in the iTunes 'DEVICES' section.
  3. Click the 'Apps' tab on the right side of iTunes.
  4. Click the 'Sync' button on the bottom-right of iTunes.

b) Use someone else’s WiFi network

If that solution doesn't work, see if you can borrow a friend or neighbor's WiFi service. Take your iPhone/iPod over to their home, log into their network, and see if you can get the download to resume. If this doesn't work immediately, also try rebooting your iPhone while at their home, and see if that restarts the process. Also, if you can't get internet access this way, try the free WiFi at a place like Starbucks, McDonald's, or many other coffee shops.

iPhone waiting app solutions - Summary

I hope one of these possible solutions to the "iPhone waiting apps" problem will work for you. As mentioned, because the iPod, iPhone, and iPad now all use the Apple iOS operating system, I assume these solutions will also work for "iPod waiting apps" and "iPad waiting apps". 

If you know of any other potential solutions to this waiting iPhone apps problem, please leave a comment below.