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article imageApple may soon let you hide those annoying stock iPhone apps

By James Walker     Apr 6, 2016 in Technology
Apple bundles a set of stock apps with every new iPhone out the box. Many of the apps are far from useful for every owner though, cluttering up the home screen and using storage space. Apple may finally be close to letting you remove them though.
Apple owners have been forced to keep apps like "Tips" and "Stocks" installed for years, even if they have no intention of asking for help and aren't interested in the stock market. In recent iOS versions, the problem has got worse.
Apple has added more apps such as "Find Friends," "Find iPhone" and "Game Center" that are either not going to appeal to everyone or simply don't have much functionality. Apple even forces everyone to have the Apple Watch app installed, irrespective of whether they own or have any intention of owning the smartwatch.
The usual way of dealing with these apps is to stick them all in an "Other" folder at the end of the home screen and just ignore them. The solution isn't entirely satisfactory though — the folder is still there to remind you they exist and the apps themselves are taking up storage space.
Apple may soon add a way to solve at least the first issue. As 9to5Mac reports, code found inside a recent iTunes release hints at a way to hide Apple's stock apps from the home screen, making them invisible to the user.
Two new configuration keys have recently been added to apps, "isFirstParty" and "isFirstPartyHideableApp." Apple looks set to differentiate its own apps from third-party downloads and then further sub-divide them into ones that can be hidden and ones that can't. Presumably, the more useful apps like Mail and Calendar will still be forced onto everyone while the like of "Tips" and "Stocks" will have the hidden mode enabled.
Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at something similar to this back in September, telling BuzzFeed "I think … we'll figure out a way [for you to remove non-essential stock apps.]" It isn't yet clear whether you'll be able to completely remove apps in the future or if they'll still be sitting there once hidden, consuming storage but never being used.
The new configuration keys hint at other possibilities for the future of Apple's own apps. Currently, the stock apps operate independently of the App Store and only receive updates with new iOS releases.
The keys suggest Apple could begin to move the apps to the App Store, letting it issue updates much more frequently. This model is now being used by Apple's rivals in the mobile space with both Android and Windows 10 using their respective stores to host their core apps.
Many of Google's stock Android apps are now in the Play Store. Microsoft has put almost everything in the Windows Store with Windows 10 Mobile, letting it update even the Phone and Messaging apps without requiring a complete OS update. While it is unlikely Apple would adopt such a model anytime soon, the company does appear to be considering a new approach for the future of its first-party apps.
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