UPDATE: This problem has been around for months now and thanks to comments from Barry, Alex, JimmyJohn and further research there are now a few more effective fixes for this. Please see our new post titled ‘Best Fixes for Cannot connect to iTunes Store Errors‘ for the best current fixes for this issue.
This morning I encountered an issue I’d never had before on any of my iPads, or iPhones for that matter: I was unable to install updates or new apps on my iPad. In researching a solution this morning I saw that a number of other users have had this and similar issues, so I thought I’d share my experience and the ultimate solution to the issue that worked for me.
The Problem and Initial Troubleshooting Steps:
When I tapped to update an app, the app’s icon text changed to showing ‘Waiting’ and then sat there doing nothing for 15 minutes and more. It never got past that status. After 15-20 minutes an error dialog finally popped up – the one shown in the screenshot above, saying ‘Cannot connect to iTunes Store’. I tried several different apps that needed updates – and got the same result with each one.
I was on my home WiFi network with a solid connection – Mail app was sending and receiving just fine, Safari was happily loading web pages, and the App Store was opening and loading all its pages just fine as well. So there was no connectivity issue.
I tried rebooting the iPad, several times, during the course of trying to get things working and also did a hard reboot. There was no change at all and trying to update an app got the same result.
I had my newly-acquired testing iPad sitting nearby, and tested installing and updating apps (under the same Apple ID and on the same WiFi network) and everything worked as normal. So my impression was that this was not a connectivity issue and not an issue related to my Apple ID either. It appeared to be specific to my main iPad.
Web searches initially lead to some entries in the Apple Support Communities (like this one) that tended to just focus on connectivity – make sure you can connect to the internet etc. Further searching soon lead to a possible fix that involved using an app like iExplorer (or other similar ones) that allow a level of access to the iPad file system and renaming one file within a downloads folder – sqlitedb.
Renaming a file is generally a low risk way to attempt to resolve a computer problem – as if it doesn’t fix the problem at hand the file can just be renamed back to its original name. I could have just gone with that approach an was tempted to, but I decided to check with Apple Support and see what their suggested solution would be.
I called in to Apple Support, explained my issue and the steps I’d already taken to try to resolve it. The first agent I spoke to spent some time quizzing me on whether the iPad could connect to the web, whether the Apple ID in use was the same on both iPads, and eventually suggested that I do a reset of network settings (Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings). I did this and the issue remained exactly the same afterwards. The agent then brought in a ‘specialist’ who spoke with me for 5 minutes or so, checked on the issue and steps taken again, had me sign out on iTunes on the Mac (where the same Apple ID was also in use), quit iTunes and reopen it, and check for available downloads (via the Store menu) – none were shown.
At that point the specialist said he needed to discuss the issue with the iTunes Store team and call me back. When he called back 15 minutes later he told me that the iTunes Store team had found that there were a number of ‘pending downloads’ showing for my Apple ID and that they had cleared those out for me. I then signed out of and back into the App Store on my iPad – and updates worked as normal again.
I don’t recall any previous problems with downloads so I don’t have much idea what the ‘pending downloads’ were. I certainly never saw any App Store or iTunes messages letting me know that I had any pending downloads – or anything of that nature. I suspect that the iTunes Store team may well have just used the file renaming method that I considered using to ‘clear those out’ for me.
If you happen to get the ‘Cannot connect to iTunes Store’ errors under similar circumstances to mine described above, this is one method of getting to a solution – call in to Apple Support and explain that you need some help from the iTunes Store team.