A Weird iPad Problem and a Weirder Solution

September 17, 2012 at 19:49:41

My mother, whose iMac and iPad I maintain and support at a transcontinental distance, phoned me today with a weird problem. Her iPad was showing that some apps had updates waiting for her at the App Store, but when she tried to use the Updates section of the App Store app, a dialog said, uninformatively, that the iPad couldn’t connect with the iTunes Store. We tried re-entering her iCloud username and password, but to no avail.

In desperation I googled “ipad can’t connect to iTunes store” and found, quite consistently over several different sites, the following improbable suggestion: turn off automatic setting of the iPad’s date and time, set the date manually to a year several years in the future, attempt to update the apps again, then turn automatic setting of the iPad’s date and time back on. Working through the process on my own iPad, so that I could give her gesture-by-gesture instructions, I had her do that and — it worked. When she went back to the App Store app once again after the whole procedure was finished, it worked normally and she could update her apps.

I suspect that the problem has something to do with some sort of bad certificate. Setting the date into the future and attempting to connect caused the certificate to be thrown away, thus allowing a new certificate to be obtained from the App Store the next time. But that’s just a wild hunch. What messing with the date really has to do with connecting to the App Store is really anybody’s guess. This is another good example of the totally uninformative error messages produced by the iPad.


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