By Dan Moren
March 12, 2015 8:45 AM PT
Wish List: Remove Apple apps on iOS
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
Oooookay, this is going to be a contentious one. Me, I don’t get too annoyed about those unremovable Apple apps: Stocks, Weather, Notes, and so on. But I understand that they raise many people’s hackles–especially, say, when an update adds a new app you can’t delete.
My guess is that there are a combination of factors at play here. One’s technical: for example, Weather and Stocks, probably the two most common offenders, also provide functionality for other features in the OS, including Siri, Notification Center’s Today view, and so on.
On the other hand, the iPad doesn’t have either Stocks or Weather and can still provide that information via Siri, as well as a forecast in the Today view. (Stocks, notably, is absent from it, perhaps suggesting that iPad users are less likely to be interested in the vagaries of the financial markets.)
The bigger issue on Apple’s part is, no doubt, philosophical. The company wants to provide a uniform experience, and that means dictating which default apps appear on the iPhone. Even if you don’t use them. To users who want to feel like their phone is their phone, that seems heretical.
So, here’s a suggested compromise. Having talked to people who’d like to remove Apple apps from their devices, it’s generally an aesthetic decision, not a functional one like the app taking up too much storage space. After all the apps themselves probably don’t take up very much room1; it’s more a matter of those pesky icons constantly taunting you. Most people, myself included, relegate them to a folder, but even that’s a bit annoying to manage.
Instead, what if iOS simply provided an interface for hiding those apps? Somewhere in Settings, there’d be a list of default Apple apps and an ability to simply turn off whether or not they show up on the Home screen. Sounds crazy, maybe, but Apple already does something similar on the Apple TV.2 Heck, you could even still have them show up in Spotlight, letting you access them without the icons being visible.3
Such a feature might be confusing to some, but it still might be easier than actually allowing the deletion of those apps (and then having to deal with whether or not they’re present when there’s an OS update, or providing a way for people to re-download them from the App Store). And it would go a long way to making users feel like they can really and truly control what’s on their iPhone home screens.
- The Weather app only measures in at 7.7MB, plus (on my iPhone) 2.2MB for documents and data. I couldn’t seem to find Stocks on storage space list in Settings, but that may just be because I have hundreds of apps. ↩
- Parental restrictions on iOS can make Safari, FaceTime, and the Camera app disappear from the Home screen, so it’s hard for me to believe that there isn’t a way Apple could let you hide other apps. ↩
- Of course, if you could hide Mail, it would still pop up when you used a Mail feature from some other app. Unless Apple were to allow you to change the default apps for particular tasks…but that’s an item for another week. ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]
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