Sick of the iPhone's Stocks and Tips apps? You may soon be able to get rid of them

Apple has quietly been rolling out new code in iTunes that could lay the groundwork for iPhone owners to be able to remove stock apps from the home screen.

Time to hide some of those never-used default apps?

There are now 29 default Apple apps that ship with the iPhone, and while some of them are useful, others you may think - like Apple Watch if you don't own one - don't deserve to take up precious home screen real estate.

iOS users can stuff unwanted stock apps in a folder, but the workaround is far from a satisfactory answer to a longstanding gripe shared by many iPhone fans.

That may change soon, according to App Advice, which reported the recent appearance of two new keys in iTunes metadata that suggest Apple may soon let these apps be hidden.

The two keys "isFirstParty" and "isFirstPartyHideableApp" have been added to every single app in the App Sore. They can be set to "true" or "false" and currently all the apps are set to false, meaning that they can't be hidden, but their presence does suggest that they could be set to "true" and thus possible to hide.

Signs that Apple was considering making it possible to hide default apps showed up in the iOS 9.3 beta alongside the release of the Apple Configurator 2.2 Beta, which was aimed at business and education markets, enabling the organisations to selectively restrict apps. It was fiddly to achieve, but nonetheless possible to hide unwanted default apps without them reappearing after a reboot.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also told Buzzfeed in September that the company has been pondering the problem but that system dependencies in some apps made it a complex issue to resolve.

"There are some apps that are linked to something else on the iPhone," said Cook. "If they were to be removed they might cause issues elsewhere on the phone. There are other apps that aren't like that. So over time, I think with the ones that aren't like that, we'll figure out a way [for you to remove them]. ... It's not that we want to suck up your real estate; we're not motivated to do that. We want you to be happy. So I recognize that some people want to do this, and it's something we're looking at."

It's expected that Apple will enable hiding default apps with the release of iOS 10 which is expected to be unveiled around June at Apple's annual WWDC event and available to end users by in the autumn.

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