App Store updates get more unreliable

The App Store app has had a troubled past, and in recent versions has sometimes gone from irritating to infuriating. But its latest behaviour with updates has taken an increasingly troubling turn.

Time was when I used to open the App Store app each day, give it a few moments, and it would usually offer me all the latest updates ready to download. Sometimes this got excessive: after a macOS update there would often be a full set of large updates to Apple’s own apps, including a complete new Xcode.

The App Store in Catalina has become more and more reluctant to offer updates, though. Sometimes I have seen new versions announced, for example to Lapcat’s Stop the Madness, and it has taken a few hours for them to appear in the UK App Store and the app. Most recently, it has held back updates for as long as two days, then showing them as being two days old when they are eventually made available.

This became most obvious with the release of Catalina 10.15.4. Just prior to that, the App Store was offering me five updates including Xcode 11.4. Knowing that I had the macOS update to download and install, I pressed on with that first. When that was complete and I opened the updated version of the App Store app, there were only two of those updates still available, and Xcode 11.4 had vanished.

One of those remaining annoyances with the App Store is its refusal to acknowledge that an update is available. With 10.15.4 running, not only did the app not offer me the update, but I wasn’t able to cajole it into admitting that Xcode 11.4 even existed. The product page merely invited me to open my old version.

Eventually, twelve hours later, the App Store app decided to offer me the new version of Xcode, telling me that it had been available “yesterday”, which of course wasn’t true in the slightest. This leads to another of those bizarre App Store screenshots, where I’m downloading an app which it now says was available yesterday, but have already installed other apps from ‘today’.


There’s also the strange case of OmniGraffle 7, which is shown as being in iCloud and not installed. I tried to update that twice ‘yesterday’, but as so often happens the first attempt didn’t satisfy, and it decided that it had to be downloaded again, which I did. After those two attempts to update it, the App Store app decided that I didn’t have the app installed at all, and had to download the whole damn thing again.

I know well how frustrating updates can be to those who develop apps for the App Store. Well, they’re getting worse for customers too as we lose control over whether we can obtain an update even a couple of days after we know it has been released. For updates which bring critical new features or fix major bugs, that makes the App Store thoroughly unreliable.


Thanks to @QuantumLeap_BEL for solving the update problem: when you open the App Store app, switch to the Updates page, then press Command-R. That command is ‘Refresh Page’, which shouldn’t of course be necessary when you’ve only just opened the app. However, it may also reveal other updates which are waiting for you.

I just tried this with one update shown as waiting for me from “yesterday”. After pressing Command-R, a second update from “three days ago” appeared. I was then able to download and install both of them.

Apple: please fix this.