I first became aware of the “offload unused apps” feature in Apple’s iPhone X, on iOS 11.
It sounded nifty, so I turned it on. After all, I tend to fill up my phones with important things like dog pictures. Besides, the app will automatically reload when I want it again!
Except when it won’t.
See, the app only reloads if it’s still in the App Store. If you happen to occasionally use a “legacy” app, meaning one that’s made for an older version of the operating system that never got updated, well, you’re just sol. Because eventually, the App Store will stop carrying it because, well, it it’s not current.
Same thing if the publisher falls out of favor with Apple or goes out of business.
Meaning the app might still work fine, but no one can buy or install it anymore. And if nobody can install it, then you can’t reload it. After all, reloading is basically just re-installing it.
Trouble is, the icon will stay on your home screen, and then you just can’t use it because it’s no longer available. And nobody warns you, like, “oh, hey, this app your phone automatically off-loaded won’t be available after Thursday, so download now if you might ever want it again!”
Nope. You tap the icon to use it, and blam, you see, “this app is no longer available,” instead. That’s it.
So now I keep everything, even if it’s never been opened, because if I thought it was worth trying, then it might be worth using someday, even if I haven’t, yet.
Kinda sounds like this feature is causing me to do exactly the opposite of what Apple intended, which was to remove things rarely used to make room for frequently used or fresher stuff, and more importantly, apps containing code that’ll slow down my shiny new phone.
Yep, now I’m a digital pack rat because I have to be. Before this, apps hung around because I was too lazy, er busy to remove them.
Thank you, Apple, for giving me justification to hoard it all!
In all seriousness, though. Finding out how many things are just hanging around has helped me become more conscious of what’s actually used. Before this feature, all apps were on all devices. Now, however, I know which are used on the iPhone, the iPad, or the iPad Pro, and can consciously decide which device(s) to keep it on.
Turns out I don’t watch movies on the iPhone all that much. But I do stream them from the iPhone to the Apple TV. Why? Because it turns out homesharing from the 27″ iMac being used as a media server isn’t really working out that well. Even though all the settings match the help articles, it doesn’t really share content with any of the other devices.
I was vaguely aware of this before. Now, however, I’m reminded a couple times a week that this is an issue. Sounds weird, but it’s true. Now that I’m aware of how apps can get lost, I’m aware of how all my content is (or isn’t) available. And is or isn’t used.
Which basically means I’m suddenly aware of how even physical media availability and organization has been allowed to remain in disarray (at best). Since Apple introduced this offloading feature, I’ve been motivated to offload things not being used in real life, too.
Except. I can find the CD but not the case. Or worse, the case but not the CD. And let’s face it, garage sale shoppers would rather by a caseless disc than a discless case.
Alright then, I can sell the excess books I’m not using. Chances are that the pages are still in the binding. And they are! Yay!
So the book gets listed on amazon. And it sells. Like, right away. And it has to ship within two business days. But, uh, I haven’t read it, yet. And it’s 400 pages long. And it’s about blockchain.
If you know what blockchain is, you probably realize that reading a tome about it in two days makes it hard to comprehend, and harder to retain. If you don’t know what blockchain is or how it works, imagine learning how to read in Sanskrit then read a how-to-manual. In two days.
Ok, it’s not quite that intense. The point is, it’s not like reading See Spot Run.
So what is the point? It’s quite simple, really.
The number one reason why I don’t let the iPhone X offload apps is I’m not going to let some little piece of electronics remind me of just how many books I’ve purchased but not read, or music I’ve purchased but not heard, and so on.
Having the phone automatically clean out unused apps reminds me that my home is just one ginormous rabbit hole of stuff that’s taking forever to cleanup because each piece of paper takes me to another piece of paper that leads to another bookcase of things, and … nevermind.
In other words, yay, the iPhone can automatically clean up the clutter but I can’t. And so off the feature goes.
Oh, and it stops me from reloading stuff when it’s wanted again because the code is no longer in the App Store.
Ok, so that’s two reasons why I stopped using the new Offload Unused Apps feature in iOS 11 and 12.