45: iOS spring cleaning

I'm the kind of digital packrat who preserves everything possible. On the desktop, with each upgrade, storage size gets closer to infinite and storage cost gets closer to zero. Not so on iOS, where storage sizes have slowly crept upward and the relatively flat folder structure limits how much stuff you can squirrel away out of view.

I've maintained data continuity on my iPhones going all the way back to the 3G by doing an encrypted iTunes backup and restore with every new device. I've done a couple large purges, especially when space became tight on my 16GB iPhone 4, but years and years of unused apps have accumulated since. It was well past time to clean house again. I made another full backup (of course) and entered wiggle mode. Just a few minutes later, my phone was 55 apps and over 2GB lighter, and in day-to-day usage I won't miss a single one of them.

Nice and tidy now.

Nice and tidy now.

There were a couple trends in what stayed and what went:

Big Apple apps

My biggest gain (nearly a gigabyte) was from dumping Pages and Numbers. I never attempt to edit documents on a sub-5" screen, and iWork documents can be previewed natively without the apps installed. Contrast the Google Docs and Sheets apps (almost 300MB combined) which are necessary for practical document preview, despite their roots in the browser. Keynote also got a reprieve for its remote features, which I use infrequently but find indispensable.

A/V silos

I consume most of my media on iOS in a couple apps. An app just for my hometown NPR station? Obviated by TuneIn, which I now mostly play on the Amazon Echo. The iTunes Festival app? Probably dead, subsumed into Apple Music and a better experience on the Apple TV anyway. A few big-platform apps made the cut, like NPR One, SoundCloud, and the Bandcamp app, all of which surpass their web counterparts in some way.

Weather overload

Many beautiful weather apps sprung up when forecast.io made their data freely available. Unfortunately, I find that data unreliable where I live, so I only kept first-party Dark Sky, and only for its minimalist widget. I still need a folder for what's left, thanks in part to Weather Underground and Storm's split personality and the undeletable Apple offering.

Game over

Games used to be the biggest space hog on iOS, but with many apps nearing 100MB, they're closer to average now. Still, I parted with all but a few favorites. Some I rarely play but view as classics: Tilt to Live, Puzzlejuice, Threes. Some are discontinued, so I have to preserve them: FlightControl and Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab are gone even from the Purchased tab in the App Store. I do look askance at games that wouldn't fit on the Apple TV and eat battery for breakfast: hello recent favorite, INKS. I should make a note to cull them — and, honestly, all of my apps — more frequently.