The fine print of deleting stock apps on iOS 10

By , Jun 16, 2016

Delete stock apps iOS 10 iPhon screenshot 001

In an effort to address one of the longest standing customer pain points with iOS, Apple has officially confirmed that a bunch of first-party apps can be removed from iOS 10 devices. But as it turns out, deleting a stock app won’t do what you’d expect.

Apple execs Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi shed more light on the topic on Daring Fireball editor John Gruber’s podcast, “The Talk Show”.

They’ve confirmed that deleting a stock iOS 10 app only removes its icon from the Home screen and deletes user data associated with the app, leaving actual app binaries intact on your device. Here’s why this isn’t such a big deal as it might sound and how removing specific first-party Apple apps might affect iOS 10’s functionality.

Deleting = hiding

For starters, this is actually evidenced by the wording of Apple’s prompt.

A typical warning message would begin with the sentence “Removing this app from the Home screen…” Right there and then, Apple is making it clear that you’re removing an app from the Home screen rather than permanently deleting it from the device.

According to Schiller and Federighi, that’s because app binaries must remain on an iOS device as part of the signed package that Apple uses to guarantee authenticity. As a result, re-downloading a removed stock app won’t actually download anything. Rather, the process will simply re-link the removed app back into iOS and put its icon on the Home screen.

Which stock iOS 10 apps are removable?

The following stock apps can be “deleted”—that is, removed from the Home screen:

  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Compass
  • Contacts
  • FaceTime
  • Find My Friends
  • Home
  • iBooks
  • iCloud Drive
  • iTunes Store
  • Mail
  • Maps
  • Music
  • News
  • Notes
  • Podcasts
  • Reminders
  • Stocks
  • Tips
  • Videos
  • Voice Memos
  • Watch app
  • Weather

The News app will be removable in a later version of iOS 10 beta, Apple says. It’s also curious that you can currently remove the Contacts app from an iPhone only.

The good news is, despite the fact that many people deem stock apps as bloatware, the truth of the matter is that these app binaries take up very little space on your devices (excluding any user data, of course).

The effects of removing stock iOS 10 apps

“The apps built into iOS are designed to be very space efficient, so all of them together use less than 150MB,” reads Apple’s support doc on deleting iOS 10 stock apps.

“When you remove a built-in app from your Home screen, you also remove any related user data and configuration files,” cautions the company. Because deleting stock apps results in their functionalities becoming unavailable to various system services, you have to be careful about the built-in apps that you’ll be removing.

For instance, removing the Watch app from an iPhone that’s paired with an Apple Watch will yield an alert asks you to unpair your watch before you can remove this app. Hiding the Calculator app will make its icon disappear from Control Center.

And if you remove the Stocks or Weather app, you won’t see stocks and weather information in the Notification Center on an iOS device or as Complications or Glances on an Apple Watch.

Likewise, removing other stock apps might affect related system functions. For instance, removing the Music or Podcasts app will also make it unavailable to use with CarPlay.

So, what happens when a stock app such as Mail or Calendar with a system-default URL scheme gets deleted? As it turns out, as soon as a user follows a link that requires its containing app, iOS pulls up a dialog offering to restore the app from the App Store.

Delete stock apps iOS 10 iPhone screenshot 003

For instance, telling Siri to add an event to your calendar after you have removed the stock Calendar app yields the aforesaid dialog.

To re-link a previously removed stock app into iOS 10, download the app from the App Store. Wait for the app to restore, then open it from your Home screen.

Why you shouldn’t be concerned

Although things clearly aren’t quite as straightforward as they sound, I think Apple is doing the right thing here. People now at long last have an officially-sanctioned way to hide those stock apps they never use in order to declutter their Home screens.

And with stock apps taking up just 150 megabytes of storage, the fact they’re simply hidden rather than being permanently removed shouldn’t concern average users.

Most importantly, Apple’s solution does not increase the number of potential points of failure, which is precisely what would’ve happened had they decided to update stock apps through the App Store independently of iOS software updates.

Now that you know all of this, do share with fellow readers in the comments below your thoughts, observations and feelings about removing first-party iOS 10 apps.

Source: Apple

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  • Picapollo

    I knew this first day. The iOS was hiding the app not deleting it…

    • Yeah and since they’ve been doing this for a while now with a couple of their apps (I’m thinking the iCloud Drive App that can be toggled in settings and the Activity App that only appears if paired with an Apple Watch) it was only a matter of time before they extended it to more of them. It will be nice to tell my friends that who always campaign about apple’s bloatware apps.

      • Picapollo

        As soon as you downloaded an app from the app store you were able to know that the Apps were getting hidden! because of the speed it was an instant install.

      • ProfSpaceCadet

        And also doesn’t require Wi-Fi (once your on the App Store page).

  • nonchalont

    Just put them all in a folder is easier still.

    • It takes up space on the home screen though.

      • ticky13

        Not really. Most people I’ve seen “hide” it on a page at the end.

  • Can’t wait to get rid of this folder!

    • avd98

      Me too! Btw, I have the same wallpaper lol

    • ravinigga

      Just asking why contacts?

      • D. Trump

        I never once opened the contacts program since you can access them from the phone app.

      • quitcherbichinn

        Because it is redundant and unnecessary.

    • Steven Hayes

      Could you possibly link me to this wallpaper? It’s gorgeous

      • Ask avd98. Don’t have the wallpaper saved anymore :/

      • Steven Hayes

        That’s a shame. Thanks for replying

      • I found it!

      • Steven Hayes

        You are my favourite person right now! Thank you

      • Quilliv


  • Scott Curry

    The next step (maybe by iOS 20) is to let the user determine which app they’d like to use as the default for these, i.e. using Calenders+ as the phone’s default calendar app, or CARROT as the default weather app, etc etc etc

  • Rondog

    As I keep saying over and over, Apple is just SCREWING with our minds. To hell withios 10, don’t see anything worthwhile to leave ios 9.3.2. Plus my devices are working just great with ios 9. What we REALLY need is a jailbreak for ios 9.3.2 and 9.3.3.

    • Rowan09

      IOS 10 is a worthwhile upgrade, they really did improve a lot.

      • Smegmatron

        I love IOS devices, had the first iphone back in 07. But calling improvements what other devices had for years now is ridiculous

      • Rowan09

        Like what? No other phone can do what iMessage does, etc. Plus while everyone say Android is open source not one single Google app is open to devs. These are improvements on Apple’s OS. Even Android in all its glory just got replying directly after IOS and PIP is just being put on Android as well. Everything gets improved but these improvements are great.

  • BlackSheep_dsg

    why don’t they just call it what it is and stop the confusion

  • gg915

    It’s ok. Apple did help us out with the space. Check out the capacity for 9.3.2 vs 10 on my SE.

  • Greg Warren

    It would be nice if they allowed us to set our own default apps. It feels like the next logical extension. Granted I have a very limited knowledge of coding, but if Apple were to give developers a list of what I’ll call “hooks” where a specific app has to tie in with the OS, couldn’t they tell developers, “If you want your app to be considered as an alternative default application, these are the ‘hooks’ that it must tie into.” These apps would go through an even more thorough review process by Apple to ensure that they worked correctly with iOS.

    • techfreak23

      They’re definitely moving in the right direction to make that possible with them opening up Siri to developers. They very well could make that happen in a future iOS release.

  • ebernet

    “It’s also curious that you can currently remove the Contacts app from an iPhone only.” Because on the iPhone you still have access to it via phone, which you CANNOT remove. On the iPad you don’t have that. And they are not removing ANY contact data.

  • Chris Gilmore

    If somebody can hook me up with a iOS 10 ipsw, tweet or reply to me. I’m having trouble finding one, the old ones were easier to find.

    • askep3

      There’s actually a dev profile you can install

  • What about the unusable 16GB users. I need every megabyte that I can squeeze out.

  • bioghost

    Why deleting stock apps is a big deal? I can’t get it