Apple revealed that most built-in iOS apps could be removed from the home screen in iOS 10, and the world celebrated. But shortly thereafter, Apple revealed one very notable caveat: you’re only removing the apps’ icons — the app itself is still loaded on the phone.
While appearing on John Gruber’s podcast The Talk Show, Apple software chief Craig Federighi clarified that iOS 10 doesn’t fully remove built-in apps. It removes the home screen icon, user data, and some behind-the-scenes stuff that adds links to each app, but the core of the removed app remains on the phone. That means if you want to reinstall the app, you might not need to download anything — you should just be able to tap the “Get” button in the App Store and have it appear.
Is this a big deal? Not really. Apple says that all of its built-in apps take up less than 150MB combined. That may be important when your phone is at capacity, but it shouldn’t make a huge difference most of the time. Yeah, it’s still a bit frustrating that you can’t clear that extra data out — especially given that Apple keeps selling 16GB phones — but the real frustration has been having to keep a folder of nonsense like Apple’s Stocks app, which apparently important business people use but that I have never seen a real human open.
The question now is how iOS 10 will react when you try to do something with an app that isn’t installed. Here’s the behavior in the current release:
That’s… not good. And pretty obnoxious. If you tap an email link, you probably want to go to the email app you actually use — not the email app you removed from your phone.
Admittedly, this should be a helpful prompt for people who have accidentally removed the app or removed it without realizing the consequences. But for broader audiences, it would make much more sense for Apple to allow people to set their own default apps when a built-in app is removed. We can hope that’s coming for the final release. Or at least for iOS 11. What’s waiting another year at this point, right?