Apple may soon permit users to hide unwanted stock apps on iOS, iTunes metadata suggests

By , Apr 6, 2016

Apple Crap folder

Strings discovered in iTunes metadata suggest that the ability to remove Apple’s stock iPhone and iPad apps such as Compass, Voice Memos, Find My Friends, Tips and Stocks is coming very soon.

For those wondering, iTunes metadata provides information about iPhone, iPod touch and iPad apps that can be found on the App Store, such as the date an app was released, its size, the store category it’s in and so forth.

As explained by AppAdvice, a pair of new keys—labeled “isFirstParty” and “isFirstPartyHideableApp”—started showing up in iTunes metadata a few weeks ago on every app in the App Store.

The mysterious keys

“Every single app in the App Store now has these keys,” as per writer Bryan Wolfe.

“So far they are all set to ‘false,’ but their mere existence shows the mechanism Apple will use to choose which apps you will be able to remove from your iOS Springboard.”

Here’s a screenshot of the strings discovered in iTunes metadata.

iTunes metadata hiding stock apps

Because these keys have a boolean value (‘true’ or ‘false’), certain apps that don’t have them may not be hideable at all.

Hiding apps with Apple Configurator

It’s possible that the ability to remove stock apps will be limited to iOS 9.3’s new classroom features that have brought out multi-user support to iPads used in education. It’s also possible that the new strings will be limited to hiding Apple TV apps.

Apple Configurator Restrictions profile hiding apps MAc screenshot 001

iOS 9.3 includes the ability to hide virtually every stock app by creating an appropriate iOS configuration profile using the Apple Configurator utility for the Mac and uploading it to an iOS device, but that capability is limited to education and business customers.

If you’re eager to learn more about this, check out Reddit.

Disabling apps with Restrictions ≠ hiding them

As mentioned, iOS lacks a user-facing option for hiding unwanted first and third-party apps from the Home screen. The Restrictions feature can be used to disable certain stock apps, but that’s not the same as hiding.

If you restrict an app like FaceTime in Restrictions, not only does its icon disappear from the Home screen, its functionality is completely disabled as a result, too. As if that weren’t confusing enough, previous-generation Apple TVs have had the ability to hide any installed app from the Home screen.


On the fourth-generation Apple TV, you can delete but not hide apps.

Should Apple give us the ability to freely hide any first or third-party app from our Home screens, we fully expect that feature to be realized via a new Settings section.

More than a rumor

As a quick refresher, CEO Tim Cook told BuzzFeed that his company is “looking at” letting consumers remove unwanted stock iOS apps.

“This is a more complex issue than it first appears,” he said. “There are some apps that are linked to something else on the iPhone. If they were to be removed they might cause issues elsewhere on the phone.”

He did say, however, that some apps might not be safe to remove.

“There are other apps that aren’t like that,” Cook continued. “So over time, I think with the ones that aren’t like that, we’ll figure out a way [for you to remove them].”

My two cents

Apart from hiding, I wish Apple followed in Google’s lead and detached certain stock apps from the iOS installer so that they could be put on the App Store. Such a move would make everything a lot easier, both for Apple and its customers.

On Android, for example, Google Play services along with many stock apps like Gmail are individually available on the Play Store. As a result of this, Google can issue critical patches to these apps and add new features at any time, simply by releasing an updated version on the Play Store rather than release include apps months later as part of an Android firmware update.

Source: AppAdvice

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  • Dany Quirion

    Who seriously hide the clock?

    • Diego Milano

      No kidding, I use it every day or so; Voice Memos is useful as well.
      I guess it all depends on what you use your phone for.

    • I do, because it’s always available via Control Center 😀

      • BooBee

        Agreed! I hide the clock because I see the time just illuminating my phones display or when it’s unlocked. The time is always visible so a clock app is so useless. I do use the alarm feature but that’s accessible from control center.

  • Fede777

    Apart from hiding, it would be ideal to be able to delete or uninstall them, for the space.

    The ones that I see viable for this are: Calculator, Weather, Clock, Voice Memos, Podcasts, Stocks, Compass, Find Friends, Watch, Tips and News.

    Maybe iBooks, Reminders and Notes, but they are very integrated to iOS, so probably not. Same with GameCenter and a couple others.

    • Well, the GameCenter app is really just a glorified frontend for all your achievements so I think it could be removed without impacting the full functionality of the GameCenter service.

      • Fede777

        Same for me, but you have to see it from Apple’s side, for them is like a hub for all your games, achievements, friends and challenges.

    • BooBee

      I agree! I do like calculator, ibooks, reminders and notes tho. Podcasts used to be optional until they forced installed it on us for iOS 9 I believe it showed up as a perm app.

  • Fede777

    He did say, however, that some apps might not be safe to remove.

    Probably meant: He did say, however, that some apps might be safe to remove. ?

  • igorsky

    I have a folder called Apple, which contains all of my unwanted stock apps, which I move to a back page. Personally, I’d rather people do something like that than force Apple to waste it’s time on this nonsense when there are bigger fish to fry.

  • Noohar

    Lol at “Apple Crap”

    • Bill

      My folder is called

  • Nolan I.

    Hiding apps via profile is not limited to business and education customers, as the article suggests.

    Anyone can download Apple Configurator 2 from the Mac App Store for free and use it to create and apply profiles to their device.

  • Linton Findlay

    I personally call mine Crapple. I hope we can choose our Default apps in IOsX. Especially with the rise of replacement apps for nearly everything, calendars, clocks, browsers- they all have restrictions over stock which nearly makes them redundant

  • Hide, lol How bout an option to install/uninstall only if we need them.. No need for them even taking up the space…

  • blu

    I don’t like bloatware and it is annoying that it can’t be deleted.
    I always have a folder on my last page called junk that these useless apps go into. Hiding would be OK, but deleting would be better.
    I have never used and never plan on using tips, stocks, voice memos, weather, podcasts, news, watch, ibooks, notes or pages.