Check the the iTunes Preferences...>Store. Have you tried selecting the Apps checkbox in the "Automatic Downloads" section? I have not tried it, since automatic downloads are not my preference, but that looks like it is what you are looking for.
yeah, that doesn't apply to the desktop software. maybe it applies to the initial download i'm not sure, but i'm certain it does not automatically download the updates.
just today, i waited about an hour for some huge amount of updates (clicked the "update all apps" button). and not quite 12 hours later there are 16 new updates to download.
I think all this does is download the updated file to my local machine, which doesn't use any of the apps because they are all iOS apps. the iOS devices are always up to date, so maybe i just ignore this screen... seems like a pretty silly oversight by apple software engineers
I'm curious about your post, but not clear about what you're asking. I generally prefer to manage updates myself. That is, get notified there is an update available and then decide if I want it.
From what I understand about how it works for me now, I can see there is an update(s) available while I am using my iOS device(s). I can then choose to update or not, selecting "update all" or just one or more. Once done, the app is updated I can then go on about using the device.
Separately, I can choose to update apps with iTunes on my iMac. I log in, check updates and if any are shown, choose to update in the iMac. This means the next time I sync to the iMac, the apps which were updated on the iMac will get automatically updated on the iOS devices.
I read somewhere that the process had been changed. In the past, when I updated on the iOS device, this would be communicated to the iMac, in effect, sharing the updated app to the iMac. Now, they are treated separately. That is what I understand.
For example, I am updating three apps right now on my iMac using iTUnes. One of them is 620 MB (Monument Valley). I prefer to update this large file on the iMac rather than on the iOS device. I can start the update on the iMac and just forget about it, even using the app if I want rather than wait while it loads.
I don't know if there is a way that any of this happen automatically. That is, the apps just get updated in the background.