Short of iPhone space? iOS 11 can auto-delete unused apps but keep the data

Apple has an answer in iOS 11 for infrequently used apps that take up scarce storage space.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The feature could help 32GB iPhone 7 owners given storage-hogging features like Live Photos, but it could be a life-saver for owners of pre-iPhone 7 16GB models.

Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

iOS 11 will introduce a handy feature that deletes unused apps automatically but offers an easy way to reinstall them to their prior state.

The space-saving feature is available in a new optional setting that enables iOS 11 to automatically uninstall apps you haven't used recently.

The feature could be a life-saver for owners of pre-iPhone 7 16GB models but it could also help owners of the 32GB iPhone 7 given storage-hogging features like Live Photos.

As noted by idownloadblog.com, iOS 11 has a new toggle setting called Offload Unused Apps under Settings and iTunes & App Stores. Switching it on allows iOS to automatically uninstall unused apps to make space for other media, such as snaps and videos. The feature relies on Siri intelligence.

Enabling it "will automatically remove unused apps, but will keep its documents and data", according to the setting. Doing so should make it easier to reinstall the app to the state it was in when deleted.

"Reinstall the app will place back your data, if the app is still available in the App Store," Apple notes.

iOS makes reinstallation easier by providing a list of all apps that have been offloaded by this feature.

As Cydiageeks notes, the Offload Unused Apps setting is also available in iPhone Storage under General settings. There's also an option to manually delete apps without deleting documents and data by using the feature Offload App.

The icon of offloaded apps will remain on the iOS home screen but they're greyed out and have a cloud-download icon similar to the one used for items purchased from iTunes that are stored in iCloud but not on the device.

Google has also experimented with storage saving in Android via a Google Play feature called App Uninstall Manager. Rather than iOS 11's auto-delete, Android recommended which apps to uninstall.

Apple announced iOS 11 at WWDC this week. It's available for developers now, and Apple will be launching the public beta soon ahead of the final release in the fall.

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