There’s no such thing as an iPhone with a microSD card. So if you’re running out of storage on your phone, the easiest way to free up some space is to delete photos, music, or videos or uninstall some apps you don’t use very often.

Now Apple is making the latter option a bit more appealing, because uninstalling an app doesn’t necessarily mean losing all of the data and settings associated with that app. There’s a new “offload unused apps” option in iOS 11 that lets your device automatically remove infrequently used apps when you’re low on space, but backup your data so that if and when you download the app from the cloud in the future, you won’t lose anything.

Cydia Geeks

This feature is included in the iOS 11 developer beta and should be available to everyone with a compatible device when iOS 11 rolls out to the public this fall.

But it’s not entirely a new idea. A key selling point for the Nextbit Robin smartphone was a custom version of Android with a “smart storage” feature that worked nearly the same way, automatically removing apps you don’t use frequently to free up space, but leaving shortcuts for those apps on your phone’s launcher. When you want to use an app, you just have to wait a second for it to download and then all of your data and settings are automatically restored.

The Nextbit Robin launched in early 2016 for $399. Plan for a model that would be compatible with Sprint and Verizon were scrapped a month later. And by the start of this year, Nextbit was essentially out of business, with PC gaming company Razer acquiring the company.

You can still pick up a Robin smartphone. These days it sells for around $150 or less. It recently got an Android 7.1.1 update, and there are custom ROMs available for the phone. But it doesn’t seem like the cloud storage feature was enough of a selling point to really make the phone a huge success.

Of course, Apple isn’t pitching its new app offloading option as a key feature of its iPhone and iPad operating system. It’s not enabled by default, and Apple didn’t even mention it during the WWDC keynote where the company unveiled iOS 11. But it is interesting to see Apple adopt the feature.

This would hardly be the first time Apple launched a product or service that’s reminiscent of existing products from different companies.

via Chris Hannah, The Verge, and 9to5Mac


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5 replies on “iOS 11 lets you “offload apps” to save space, while retaining data and settings”

  1. Seems one of those ideas that sounds nice at first, but is useless. When I uninstall, it’s because I want to get rid of anything left on my system.

    If I’m uninstalling something I still would like to use but I’m out of space, when exactly am I going to reinstall it again – when I expand my storage? Er, not an option on an Apple device.

    Android and Windows have this for games, which are really the only huge applications that might be worth uninstalling, but where you might want to come back to. Otherwise it’s data that takes up space. Cloud storage is useful for offloading, an Apple’s support for third party cloud storage is still crap (unless you want to use icloud *gag*).

  2. Android 6.0 and newer lets you use a microSD card as
    if it were internal storage. And there are now Android
    devices that can take up to a 512 GB microSDXC.

    However, it appears Samsung does not implement
    the above feature on any of their devices.

  3. My 16gb iPad is always running out of space. This is a good idea. Unfortunately, my iPad won’t run iOS 11, so I may switch to a Samsung Android tablet instead.

Comments are closed.