How to downgrade apps in iOS and Android?

Wayne Thompson

Jan 18, 2023

9 min read

The need for downgrading apps

Apps can be downgraded. Yes, you read that right. Updating the applications to the most recent version allows access to the most recent features while improving app stability and security. However, it is not as smooth as it sounds and, in some cases, you might need to downgrade apps. Furthermore, the latest updates can come with bugs as the application developers may overlook to repair significant errors. Also, the devices might not be compatible with the new update, and this might cause the app to crash multiple times. Additionally, the apps take up more space with each update.

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How to downgrade Android apps

Now that we have seen why we have to downgrade an app, it is essential to know the different ways for downgrading.

Downgrade an Android app (and keep the existing data)

To downgrade an app to a previous version without erasing its data, you must install the older version on top of the newer one. Typically, Android does not permit this, and the installation would either fail quietly or display an error. Fortunately, the system package manager has a secret flag that, when supplied to the package installer, instructs the Android OS to allow an older version of a program to be installed over a newer one.

Steps to downgrade an Android app and keep the existing data
Steps to downgrade an Android app and keep the existing data

Snippet of the Powershell script to downgrade an app
Snippet of the Powershell script to downgrade an app

Once the command is executed, the app gets downgraded to the required version.

Teams app downgraded in an Android device
Teams app downgraded in an Android device

How to roll back an Android app update (and restore the old data)

Google needed to make sure that any changes to Android’s modular system components could be reversed if something went wrong during the development of Project Mainline for Android 10. So, when there are 5 “Application Not Responding” (ANR) errors or process crashes inside 1 minute of an update, or if any native service fails frequently following an upgrade, Android’s rollback capability is meant to be triggered automatically by the system.
However, Google has included a manual rollback method using a shell command. To perform a rollback,

  • You have to add the ‘-enable-rollback’ option to the ‘pm install’ command when upgrading an app.
  • Then, send the ‘pm rollback-app package’ command to initiate a rollback.

When one performs a rollback, they restore the previous data by installing the earlier version of the program and relocating the backed-up data files. Any modifications to the app’s data after activating rollback will be replaced.

Downgrading apps using 3rd Party Software

Third-party programs can also be used for this purpose. There are several Android and iOS Downgrade applications to select from. You may download and install any of these programs for free or for a one-time cost on a compatible computer.

Why use Hexnode to downgrade Android apps?

Imagine all your corporate device got updated to the latest version of an application that has several bugs. It will be very tedious for the IT admins to downgrade the apps on every device individually.

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Hexnode App Management solution

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Hexnode’s smart security package adapts to the demands of the modern workplace. Organizations can support granular management capabilities over all aspects of device management using Hexnode. The UEM solution lets the IT admins downgrade an app on the managed Android devices if they face any problem with the latest update. The benefits of downgrading apps through Hexnode are:

  • It doesn’t need scripting.
  • App management on multiple endpoints is a hassle-free process.
  • The engaging UI makes it easier to carry out tasks with just a few clicks.
  • Furthermore, the IT admin can do all these without physically touching the device, thanks to Hexnode’s remote management configurations.

How to simplify Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) with UEM

How to downgrade using Hexnode

Enforcing App Downgrade on Enterprise app

What is an enterprise app?
A company designs an enterprise app, also known as an in-house app, for usage within the company. They cannot disseminate some programs intended for internal use to the general public. As a result, they are not available in the Play Store.

Steps to downgrade apps

If the corporate program you released includes security flaws or other faults due to some bugs from the developer’s side, it might lead to a massive IT disaster. You can downgrade corporate apps and distribute them to Android smartphones using Hexnode. To accomplish this, one can upload the earlier version to the Hexnode app repository.

  • Under Hexnode’s Android App management policy, add the enterprise apps you want to downgrade as a mandatory app and allow Enforce app downgrade to enable the installation of a lower version of the app if Hexnode pushes it. Once one completes it, they can assign it to the concerned device or devices.
  • In the Apps tab in the Hexnode portal, select the app you want to downgrade. Next, select edit by clicking the gear icon in the App details box. Tap on Change (adjacent to the APK file) and upload the older version APK of the app.
  • You can also create a new enterprise app with the lower version of the app and then send it to the device.

How to downgrade iOS apps?

In iPhones and iPads, there are multiple ways in which you can downgrade apps.

Downgrade an app on iOS with iTunes

  • Firstly, make sure that the ‘Automatic Downloads’ option is off. This will prevent applications from installing new updates automatically.
  • Next, locate the previous version’s IPA File, where IPA stands for the iOS Package App Store. It is an app archive file to deliver programs on iOS. IPA consists of uncompressed files that can only be installed on iOS devices. It is similar to the Android Application Package or APK files deployed on Android devices.
  • You can find the previously synchronized IPA files saved on the PC by default.
    • Go to /Users//Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Mobile Applications on a Mac.
    • Go to C:\Users\\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Mobile Applications on Windows.
  • Using iTunes, install the previous IPA.
    • To do this, go to the My Apps section in iTunes; you will find all the purchased and synced applications.
    • Choose the app to downgrade and select the version number from Get Info.
    • Next, if the version you are looking for is present, connect your phone or tab to your Mac or PC and choose the Apps option from the Device tab.
    • Click the remove button adjacent to the app you want to downgrade and select Apply.
    • Lastly, click the Install button that you will find next to the app and again tap on Apply. Once the syncing is completed, the previous version will be loaded.

If the App version you are looking for is not in Get Info, select the app and click Show in Finder/Windows Explorer to erase the existing IPA file in the folder. Delete it from the Recycle Bin/ trash as well. Once again, come back to the apps tab and click on Show. At this point, iTunes will prompt you to retrieve the IPA file. Select Locate and navigate to where you saved the old IPA file. Next, go to the Apps option in the Device tab and follow the previously mentioned steps.

Downgrade Apps on iOS with Apple Configurator

You can download the IPA files to downgrade apps using Apple Configurator.

  • The first step is downloading and installing Apple Configurator on your Mac PC.
  • Next, log in to your Apple account using the same credentials for your iPhone or iPad.
  • Then connect your device to the PC using a USB cable and navigate to your Mac computer’s folder containing all downloaded IPAs.
  • Locate the temporary folder under the Mobile Apps folder. Typically, one designates temporary folders with arbitrary numbers. Each of these folders represents a program and contains a randomly numbered folder containing the IPA. Move the IPA to a location that is more convenient for you.
  • Now, open the My Apps section in iTunes, select the app and click Show in Finder/Windows Explorer to erase the existing IPA file in the folder. Delete it from the Recycle Bin/ trash as well. Once again, come back to the apps tab and click on Show. At this point, iTunes will prompt you to retrieve the IPA file. Select Locate and navigate to where you saved the old IPA file. Next, go to the Apps option in the Device tab and follow the previously mentioned steps to install the IPA file.

Top 10 Mobile Application Management (MAM) Solutions


In conclusion, one can downgrade apps on managed iOS devices through iTunes or Apple Configurator. For Android devices, one can do it using Hexnode UEM, scripts or using 3rd party apps. There are several reasons why someone might need to downgrade an app, such as bugs in the latest update, compatibility issues with their device, or lack of storage space. By following the steps outlined in the article, you can easily find and install the previous version of an app on your managed iPhone, iPad or Android phones.

It’s important to note that one cannot downgrade all apps and not all older versions of apps are available for download. It’s always a good idea to double-check that the app version you are trying to install is still available and compatible with your device before proceeding.

Wayne Thompson

Product Evangelist @ Hexnode. Busy doing what looks like fun to me and work to others.

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