iOS 10's App-Deleting Function Comes With A Catch - InformationWeek

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Mobile // Mobile Applications
01:06 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

iOS 10's App-Deleting Function Comes With A Catch

In iOS 10, Apple will allow iPhone owners to delete unwanted pre-installed apps for the first time. But you're not really getting rid of them.

iOS 10, MacOS, WatchOS Updates: WWDC Up Close
iOS 10, MacOS, WatchOS Updates: WWDC Up Close
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Nearly all phones include bloatware -- unwanted apps installed by the manufacturer or carrier. Apple's iPhone ships with a dozen or so junk apps that cannot be deleted. That's going to change once iOS 10 arrives in September. Apple will for the first time let iPhone owners delete those stock apps. This is sort of a big deal, but there's a disappointing catch.

Every time I set up a new iOS device, I create a folder called "Extras." That folder is chock full of Apple-made apps that I don't want or use. Some of them, like email and weather, have been replaced by third-party apps I think are better. Although I use Google's Gmail app on my iPhone, Apple's Mail app persists, hiding in that tucked-away folder. It's an eyesore more than anything else.

iOS 10 will finally make it possible to get rid of these apps, including Calculator, Calendar, Compass, Contacts, FaceTime, iCloud Drive, Mail, Maps, Music, Notes, Podcasts, Reminders, Stocks, Tips, Videos, Voice Memos, Watch, and Weather. The apps now appear in the iTunes App Store like any other app.

(Image: Jason Doiy/iStockphoto)

(Image: Jason Doiy/iStockphoto)

If you were looking forward to deleting apps and freeing up space on your iPhone, temper your enthusiasm. Apple SVP of software engineering, Craig Federighi, explained on The Talk Show that the apps aren't actually being deleted from the iPhone. Say what?

Let's say you download a weather app from the App Store. If you later decide that you no longer want it, you give a long press to the app icon to put it in jiggly mode so it can be moved or deleted. Tap the delete button, and away the app goes in its entirety. Apple says deleting its stock apps functions in the same way, but there's some software trickery at hand.

Rather than actually deleting the app, Apple is only deleting the app's user data and removing the icon from the home screen. The app binary itself will remain installed on the iPhone, even though it is hidden from sight. Federighi said all the Apple apps together take up only about 150MB of storage on the iPhone, so users wouldn't be saving all that much space any way. Anytime iPhone owners want to use a deleted stock app, they need only visit the App Store and re-download it.

[See 9 iPhone Hacks to Free up Storage Space.]

Why not fully delete the app? Security, according to Federighi. Apple verifies every complete build of iOS to ensure that it doesn't contain viruses or malware. Deleting the stock apps, which are part of the operating system image, would alter the base build of iOS and make it vastly more difficult for Apple to verify the security of the operating system.

There's another catch. When all the stock apps were first spotted in the iTune App Store, it stoked hope that Apple would begin to update them more frequently. That's not the case, says Federighi. As noted above, because the stock apps form the core operating system image, they can only be updated when the operating system itself is updated.

Bottom line, you can delete the app icons so you no longer have to look at them, but you're not freeing up any space on your iPhone.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2016 | 7:51:33 PM
Just remove them!
I don't even understand why these apps are considered part of the OS. It's the same with the MacOS, and with Windows and many others. They come pre-loaded with a bunch of stuff, which in itself isn't a bad thing. What is bad (and why I generally avoid these apps) is that the vendor doesn't update them except when they update the OS.

So, use Mail on OS X? Then you get what the OS gives you. There's no "I don't like the changes Apple made to Mail in El Capitan, let me use the Yosemite one!". You get what you get. And if there's a feature missing, there's no hope seeing it until the next OS hits. Don't want Chess? Toss it! But then pieces will come back on the next update!

On iOS, I find half of the apps useless that come with the thing. And, like the author says, don't expect any updates until the next release (and even then, most don't get updates, or you have no idea what the update is). Heck, apple's calculator has a 'scientific' mode, but to get to it, you have to turn the screen. Well, my screen's orientation is locked (because i get tired of it switching back and forth all the time while i'm trying to use it), so first I have to go to the effort to unlock that, then rotate it, then use it, then lock the orientation again. And by that point I give up and just find another one that lets me switch right on screen...

OK, enough griping. Time to get back to work...

User Rank: Strategist
6/16/2016 | 9:09:48 AM
It's a start
I can understand Apple's thinkng on this and I don't think I'm really going to benefit from an extra 150MB. Though, the idea of being able to finally remove those apps is appealing especially in scenarios where you want to restrict actions on a device; like a tablet used by customers. If the only app on the iPad is the one you want them to use then there is less of a chance that they will play with the device instead of using it for its intended purpose.

Apple still has a long way to go. There are things I would like to see in iOS. Themes would be one, individualized notifications for email senders and accounts (like the way it is with SMS now and ringtones for contacts), true support for a third-party browser, mail app, and maps app as a default, and home screen rotation on devices other than the iPhone 6+ series. Just to name a few.
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