Why Apple’s iOS 9 App Thinning feature is a gimmick

Apple’s iOS 9 is now out and about on most iOS devices, with 50% of iOS users upgrading within the first week of its release. There are some new features within iOS 9 that are sure to please the majority of iOS customers, such as a low power saving mode (the equivalent of Samsung’s ultra power saving mode), a split-screen mode (similar to Samsung’s multi-window mode), and others, but there’s one particular feature that is to be credited only to Apple. What is the feature? App Thinning.

What is app thinning? App thinning is a feature that allows iOS users to download only the necessary code for any app (not all of the information that comes with it, most of which is unnecessary for most users) and save on their storage for the device. App thinning reduces the size of app downloads (a 150MB app could turn into 75MB when downloaded, for example, with this new feature). For those with 16GB iPhones, however, app thinning seems to be a huge win, since it would prevent most owners from running out of that 16GB storage iPhone 6s so easily. At the same time, however, app thinning can be useful and help with storage (whether 16GB, 64GB, or 128GB storage models) but with Apple’s introduction of the feature, it’s clear that app thinning is designed to be a gimmick.

The reason? Apple chooses to introduce app thinning not to help consumers save on storage, but as a workaround to increasing its base storage model. Each year, iPhone fans beg and plead with Apple to increase the 16GB storage model to 32GB, which Samsung did for its devices this year (and so removed 16GB models for its high-end devices completely). And each year, Apple continues to sell 16GB devices for $649. The price tag for an iPhone 6s, for example, is ridiculous when you consider that Samsung Galaxy S6 customers, by contrast, can get a 32GB storage Galaxy S6 or Galaxy Note5 for just $650-$700. In other words, the same money that iOS users spend on a new iPhone 6s could be spent on a Samsung device with double the storage right out of the box.

App thinning is assumed to be a good thing, but it does little towards helping 16GB iPhone users get the most out of their devices. 32GB could do a whole lot more in that department. If Apple were introducing app thinning alongside of doubling the base storage model from 16GB to 32GB, then we could see Apple’s good intentions and assume as much. This is not the case, however: Apple’s introducing this while refusing to increase the storage model. In other words, it’s designed to make 16GB iPhone users comfortable with their smaller storage models, rather than increase the storage and give customers even more space to take photos and download apps. If app thinning proves to be a success with the 16GB iPhone 6s, imagine how much greater an impact would have been made if Apple had doubled the storage alongside of app thinning?

Even if Apple does introduce the app thinning feature in iOS 9, which has been delayed due to an iCloud bug, 16GB iPhone 6s owners will still feel cheated. At the end of the day, Apple will sell app thinning as though it’s a stroke of genius, but the company’s only doing it for one reason: to continue its illogical profit scheme on innocent iOS customers who’ll continue to stand in long lines waiting for the next iPhone.

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Deidre Richardson (dual B.A., History and Music, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) stumbled upon tech a little later in life than expected. After picking up her first smartphone (the Galaxy S3), the rest is history. She currently writes for SamMobile, the largest Samsung fan site worldwide, as well as smartwatch site smartwatch.me.

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