When you update a device with a new iOS Version (beta or not) and restore an iCloud Backup, said backup gets stuck while trying to bring back your own apps that you have deployed with Xcode. The iCloud backup is only saving your app’s data, but not the actual bundle. The idea is that iCloud can bring those back from the App Store.
This means that apps you’ve deployed from Xcode, say as test apps or those still in development, are not on the App Store and hence cannot be brought back. When iCloud restores, it tries really hard – and as a result gets stuck in an endless loop.
The implication is that you cannot deploy a new iOS version over the air when this happens – because the previous restore needs to finish first before applying the new one. However, getting rid of those non-existent apps is impossible – because the standard “tap wiggle and press x” method doesn’t work. Neither does any of the other methods. This leaves us developers stuck with darkened icons like these and a never ending restore loop:
How do we fix’er, Cap’m?
You can deal with this in several ways:
Option 1: deploy the new iOS Version via iTunes and do not restore an iCloud backup. This however leaves you with lost data and is probably only good as a last resort, of if you don’t care about existing data.
Alternatively you can restore an iCloud backup, but you’ll be stuck in the restore loop again – albeit with a new version of iOS.
Option 2: re-deploy your old apps from Xcode to the device so the restore can finish. As soon as the last app is installed, the new iOS Version can be applied over the air.
If you no longer have access to the old apps fear not: as long as you can remember the Bundle ID, just create a new dummy app with said Bundle ID and deploy that – it’ll make the app on the device “deletable” again. iCloud doesn’t care and will finish the restore.
Note that you must bring back every old app and get rid of any dark icon you have on your springboard for this to work.
By far the simplest thing is to cancel the restore. I’ve only just found out in December 2014 that this option even exists: Settings – iCloud – Backup – Cancel Restore
What if I don’t remember the Bundle ID’s?
That’ll be a problem… You’ll have to guess. Usually when you deploy something with a title like “Test App”, then spaces in your Bundle ID will be replaced with a dash (as in com.yourdomain.Test-App). Capitalisation is important here: com.yourdomain.Test-App is seen as a different app than com.yourdomain.test-app.
If you’re not sure about the title of your “dark apps” (because usually it says “Waiting” during the restore attempt), try to hold one down, then press the x as if you’re deleting them. The deletion will silently fail, but the standard iOS Alert View will be displayed asking if you’re sure – and in doing so will display the title of this app.