iTunes, App Store removal, and a whole bunch of broken links

Kirk McElhearn:

As I reported here yesterday, Apple released an update to iTunes. The latest version, 12.7, has some minor changes, but one big revolution: the App Store is no longer available.

And:

If they go to your website, and click on the Download on the App Store button, something strange will happen. They will not be able to go to the App Store, because it no longer exists.

In fact what happens after that click is interesting. The user’s web browser opens a web page which displays a message, above a spinning gear, that says Opening the iTunes Store. The browser eventually redirects to iTunes, which redirects back to the browser displaying a webpage showing information about the app. However, there is no way to purchase an app from this page. And there aren’t even any hints as to how one might go about this, such as suggesting that the user copy the URL and email it to him or herself to be able to access the information about this app on the iOS App Store.

To be clear, this is a Mac issue, an effect of the App Store being removed from iTunes. To see this for yourself, go to Safari on the Mac and hunt for an app link. For example, go to TouchArcade and scroll down, click on one of the App Store links.

For example, here’s a link to a game called CSR Racing 2.

If you click the link, one of two things will happen. Either you’ll be flipped back and forth a few times between Safari and iTunes as your Mac tries to follow a protocol that no longer works, or you’ll end on a Safari page with no way to make a purchase.

Either way, something big is broken here.



  • James Hughes

    Just an FYI, this works as it should using iTunes 12.5.5.5.

    • Kip Beatty

      As it should given the App Store was only removed in 12.7.

      This is really inexcusable on Apple’s part. There will be millions of broken links now.

      • James Hughes

        Yup, I was just putting it out there for anyone who didn’t know or maybe thought it was broken in other versions too. I’ll be sticking with the current version for now.

        • Kip Beatty

          If you don’t rely on your Mac for syncing your iPhone (I haven’t for years and don’t recall the last time I synced via iTunes), it’s actually a nice improvement. However, it’s inexcusable that all of those app links out there, in countless articles across thousands of sites are now suddenly dead.

  • Curmudgeon

    One would imagine it being possible, someday, in Safari to have a buy with Apple Pay button for the AppStore-on-the-web pages. Then redirecting to iTunes is less important. Doesn’t solve the issue for Windows where there is no longer a Safari.

  • Mo

    I don’t enjoy shopping for and buying apps on a small screen. I don’t imagine I’m the only one who feels that way.

  • immovableobject

    Apple really blew it. Not only did they remove a useful feature from iTunes, but they did it in a way that will cause the maximum amount of frustration. They need to back this change out ASAP.

  • Jeff Miller

    The flipping between iTunes and browser can be fixed (although still left with no way to make a purchase).

    If you remove the query string at the end of the link, it simply takes you to the webpage and doesn’t try to open iTunes app.

    Here’s the fixed CSR Racing 2 link WITHOUT the query string: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id887947640

  • Robert.Walter

    Apparently not all the right people at apple are eating their own dog food these days.

  • I find it really difficult to believe that they didn’t catch this. That is unless all their UX teams are simply ignored.

  • SeahorseSeaEO

    Looks like it might be fixed now, as the button is gone on the pages, and it just shows this text: “This app is only available on the App Store for iOS devices.”