iTunes 12.6.3 has quietly been released which has reintroduced the ability to download App Store apps and ringtones from within the iTunes desktop software.
Apple stated that they are making this available because “certain business partners might still need to use iTunes to install apps” but anyone who wants to reinstate this functionality is welcome to download it.
“If you’ve already installed a newer version of iTunes, you can download this version of iTunes on your Mac, PC 32-bit or PC 64-bit and run the installer. After installation is complete, you can continue to deploy apps with iTunes. You won’t be prompted to download new versions of iTunes after you install this version.”
You can download packages for both Mac and PC (32-bit and 64-bit) via the support page but after the download most users will have to rebuild their iTunes library. Don’t worry, this isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Simply hold the Option key when the app launches in the dialog window that appears and choose “Create Library…” Make sure to give your new library a different name to your old library and then migrate your albums over using the Add to Library option under the Files menu.
When Apple released iTunes 12.7 in September they stated that it was a version designed to focus solely on music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and audiobooks which was the reason they gave for the removal of the built-in app store. This meant that apps and ringtones could only be downloaded via an iOS device.
This “business edition” of iTunes is compatible with iOS 11, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X although it is not yet clear how long this version will be offered. There is also no technical support for this version but its good for those who require the functionality right now while Apple work on an alternative that suits everyone.