App Thinning

A few years back I accidentally bought my wife a 16GB iPhone and spent the rest of the year making sure she could snap a picture by removing and reinstalling apps and deleting old messages I hoped she wouldn’t want to read again.

It’s not a mistake I intend to make again.

Like a number of the more vocal members of the community, I wonder why Apple continues to sell a premium device with paltry storage. I’m not convinced it’s as simple as average selling price (I’d bet it has more to do with corporate sales) but my insight is about as an uninformed as they come.

The fact is they are selling these machines, and we have to believe Apple has a plan for dealing with it.

When iOS 9 was announced with “app thinning” I was interested in how much of an impact it would have. When the release of app thinning was delayed at launch, it gave me an opening to record my current app sizes and compare them a month down the road.

My Process

There was no method to how these apps were chosen. I eyeballed a good mix of genres / authors, ending with 63 apps I’m not embarrassed to say are on my phone.

I started the day I recevied my new phone (9/29) and stopped when I grew tired of recording numbers (11/15).

To check the size of the app, I visited the Storage & iCloud Usage page in Settings and then dove into each application to make sure the size I was reporting didn’t include any generated or downloaded content.

App Thinning Look Up Process

I ended up with 63 apps over all. Data was collected on an iPhone 6s Plus.

Bottom Line

From these 63 apps, I saw a net decrease of 8.5% for a savings of nearly 650MB.

Apple’s Pages was the big winner, shedding 66MB, followed by Numbers (60MB) and Facebook (56MB).

In terms of percentage lost, Overcast managed to lose the most of what little size it started with, shedding 42% of it’s original weight. Close behind was Facebook, losing 40%, and Scopa Pro down 39%.

Takeaways

  1. Checking for app sizes is a pain.

  2. Some full-featured apps were surprisingly small to begin with. Overcast–a favorite in the world of podcasting–at its heaviest was only 7.6MB. It shed 40% of it’s weight, coming in at only 4.4MB. I stopped using Overcast during this test, but kept it around because it is a testament to craftsmanship.

  3. I didn’t spread the genres around as well as I thought I did. It didn’t seem to matter much–there was little correlation between the category and the size reduction.

  4. I checked a few times over the past month and half and the app sizes were always fluctuating a bit. A few MB one way or the other doesn’t mean much.

  5. I spot-checked these sizes against an iPad Air 2. They were relatively close to what is reported below. I imagine other devices will see greater savings since they’ll be able to shed the bitmaps associated with these large screens.

The Breakdown

(Click on the headings to sort)

GenreCountSavingsAverage
Books1-31.5 MB72.6%
Social Networking5-103.6 MB76.9%
Travel2-41 MB77.3%
Entertainment2-13.8 MB83.2%
News4-13.1 MB84%
Games6-88.5 MB86%
Weather2-29.4 MB86.1%
Health & Fitness5-59.8 MB87.2%
Lifestyle8-57.6 MB89.2%
Photo & Video5-47.5 MB91.1%
Finance4-19.9 MB92.6%
Sports43.79 MB93%
Productivity9-163.8 MB93.3%
Business1-2.5 MB94%
Music10 MB100%
Food & Drink28.3 MB109.2%
Navigation18.3 MB118.5%
Reference17.8 MB138.2%

Fair warning: these are affiliate links!

NameGenreOriginalFinalMB Δ% Δ
Overcast: Podcast Player OvercastNews7.6 MB4.4 MB-3.2 MB57.8%
Reeder 2 Reeder 2News6.3 MB6.3 MB0 MB100%
Periscope PeriscopeSocial Networking18 MB12 MB-6 MB66.6%
Dark Sky - Hyperlocal Weather, Radar, and Storm Alerts Dark SkyWeather14 MB14 MB0 MB100%
Strategery StrategeryGames14.1 MB14.1 MB0 MB100%
WatchESPN WatchESPNSports19.1 MB15.2 MB-3.9 MB79.5%
ChefSteps ChefStepsFood & Drink15.6 MB16.1 MB0.5 MB103.2%
7 Minute Workout 7 Minute WorkoutHealth & Fitness17.6 MB17.6 MB0 MB100%
Automatic AutomaticLifestyle26.8 MB20.2 MB-6.6 MB75.3%
FOX Sports GO FOX Sports GOSports31.1 MB23.4 MB-7.7 MB75.2%
Netflix NetflixEntertainment41.1 MB27.3 MB-13.8 MB66.4%
WolframAlpha WolframAlphaReference20.4 MB28.2 MB7.8 MB138.2%
Scopa Pro Scopa ProGames48.4 MB29.4 MB-19 MB60.7%
Vimeo VimeoPhoto & Video46 MB29.5 MB-16.5 MB64.1%
Mint: Money Manager, Budget & Personal Finance MintFinance39.9 MB29.9 MB-10 MB74.9%
Amex Mobile Amex MobileFinance32 MB32 MB0 MB100%
Untappd - Discover Beer UntappdSocial Networking37.4 MB32.6 MB-4.8 MB87.1%
Things ThingsProductivity35.2 MB35.2 MB0 MB100%
Pocket: Save Articles and Videos to View Later PocketNews45.9 MB36 MB-9.9 MB78.4%
Slack - Team Communication SlackBusiness42.3 MB39.8 MB-2.5 MB94%
Alien Blue - reddit official client Alien BlueNews39.8 MB39.8 MB0 MB100%
Betterment - Smarter Investing BettermentFinance61.7 MB42.9 MB-18.8 MB69.5%
Capital One Wallet Capital One WalletFinance34 MB42.9 MB8.9 MB126.1%
Apple Store Apple StoreLifestyle49.7 MB49.7 MB0 MB100%
Yelp YelpTravel69.4 MB52.6 MB-16.8 MB75.7%
Google Maps Google MapsNavigation44.7 MB53 MB8.3 MB118.5%
ESPN ESPNSports50.4 MB53.8 MB3.4 MB106.7%
Starbucks StarbucksFood & Drink50.7 MB58.5 MB7.8 MB115.3%
Philips Hue Philips HueLifestyle65.8 MB58.6 MB-7.2 MB89%
Houzz Interior Design Ideas HouzzLifestyle69.9 MB59.1 MB-10.8 MB84.5%
WATCH ABC WATCH ABCEntertainment59.8 MB59.8 MB0 MB100%
YouTube YouTubePhoto & Video59.1 MB61 MB1.9 MB103.2%
Amazon App: shop, browse, scan, compare, and read reviews AmazonLifestyle93.9 MB62 MB-31.9 MB66%
Runkeeper - GPS Running, Walk, Cycling, Workout, Pace and Weight Tracker RunkeeperHealth & Fitness77 MB63.5 MB-13.5 MB82.4%
Workflow: Powerful Automation Made Simple WorkflowProductivity63.9 MB63.9 MB0 MB100%
Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal MyFitnessPalHealth & Fitness97.8 MB64.1 MB-33.7 MB65.5%
Afterlight AfterlightPhoto & Video75 MB69.1 MB-5.9 MB92.1%
Camera+ Camera+Photo & Video71.7 MB71.7 MB0 MB100%
Walgreens - Pharmacy, Clinic, Print Photos, Coupons and Shopping WalgreensLifestyle71.4 MB73.4 MB2 MB102.8%
Yahoo Weather Yahoo WeatherWeather106 MB76.6 MB-29.4 MB72.2%
eBay eBayLifestyle80.1 MB77.2 MB-2.9 MB96.3%
Kindle – Read Books, eBooks, Magazines, Newspapers & Textbooks KindleBooks115 MB83.5 MB-31.5 MB72.6%
Facebook FacebookSocial Networking140 MB83.8 MB-56.2 MB59.8%
Alto's Adventure Alto’s AdventureGames120 MB84.5 MB-35.5 MB70.4%
Evernote EvernoteProductivity122 MB89.2 MB-32.8 MB73.1%
Twitter TwitterSocial Networking127 MB90.4 MB-36.6 MB71.1%
Airbnb AirbnbTravel115 MB90.8 MB-24.2 MB78.9%
Health Mate - Steps tracker & Life coach by Withings WithingsHealth & Fitness109 MB96.4 MB-12.6 MB88.4%
Nest app NestLifestyle99.1 MB98.9 MB-0.2 MB99.7%
LinkedIn LinkedInSocial Networking103 MB103 MB0 MB100%
Threes! Threes!Games108 MB108 MB0 MB100%
Yahoo Fantasy Football & more - Daily + Full Season Football, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey Yahoo Fantasy FootballSports115 MB127 MB12 MB110.4%
Two Dots Two DotsGames148 MB131 MB-17 MB88.5%
Google Docs Google DocsProductivity131 MB134 MB3 MB102.2%
Editorial EditorialProductivity142 MB142 MB0 MB100%
Google Sheets Google SheetsProductivity191 MB188 MB-3 MB98.4%
Numbers NumbersProductivity379 MB319 MB-60 MB84.1%
Pages PagesProductivity392 MB326 MB-66 MB83.1%
Bodyweight Training: You Are Your Own Gym You Are Your Own GymHealth & Fitness402 MB402 MB0 MB100%
Monument Valley Monument ValleyGames502 MB485 MB-17 MB96.6%
Keynote KeynoteProductivity542 MB537 MB-5 MB99%
iMovie iMoviePhoto & Video705 MB678 MB-27 MB96.1%
GarageBand GarageBandMusic728 MB728 MB0 MB100%
Twitter LinkedIn