You Can Finally Delete Built-In iOS Apps, but Should You?

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Apple recently announced that iPhone and iPad users can finally delete pre-installed Apple apps. That means you can get rid of superfluous apps you never use, such as Compass and Tips, perhaps. It's as simple as pressing and holding an app icon until it jiggles, and then tapping the 'x' that appears on it, but it only works after you install iOS 10.

iOS 10 is out now in beta release, although many people will likely wait until September or October for the final build before they get it. Either way, there are a few things to know before you chuck those apps.

Ditch the App, Lose App Access
When you delete one of the pre-installed apps from your iPhone or iPad, you'll lose it from the Home screen, the Notifications panel, and any connected devices and services you might use, such as CarPlay and Apple Watch. You also might delete data stored in it, unless that data is saved to a related cloud account.

What I mean by that is if you delete, say, the Music app, and you have purchased songs in the app through iTunes, you'll still be able to access your music through iTunes. But the songs will be gone from your iOS device when you remove the app.

You can always reinstall apps that used to be on your phone at no cost. So, if you change your mind and want to reinstall an app, it's just a matter of downloading it and tailoring it again to how you use it.

Which Apps Can You Delete?
Once you have iOS 10 installed onto your device, you can remove up to 23 apps that you couldn't before. Some are fine to remove if you have never used or rarely used them. Others require a little more explanation about what will happen if you delete them before you decide to do it. The apps I recommend removing if you have never (or rarely) used them are:

Beyond those, there are 10 more apps you might delete, but they require a little more knowledge and thought. They are: Calendar, Contacts, FaceTime, iCloud Drive, iTunes Store, Mail, Maps, News (this one is not yet available to delete in iOS 10 beta, but it will be in a later release), Videos, and Voice Memos.

You might be thinking, "Why would I delete my Contacts app?" It's pretty scary to think about eliminating your entire address book. Well, it turns out that won't happen. If you delete the Contacts app, all the phone numbers and other information contained in that app will still be accessible from the Phone app. In other words, the information in your Contacts app isn't solely relegated to that app. It's elsewhere, too.

There are other apps that might also have important information that won't necessarily disappear for all time if you wipe the app from your phone. For example, if you use Calendar on a Mac and sync your calendar entries across devices, you can delete the app from your phone without losing the calendar appointments from your other devices. Just make sure all the data has synced properly before doing it.

FaceTime is an app I've used only once or twice...until my sister started using it. Because I want her and other friends and family members to be able to get in touch with me by whatever means is most convenient for them, I will keep FaceTime on my phone. Put another way, even though FaceTime isn't my first choice in communication apps, it might be for other people, and that's reason enough for me to keep it around.

Tip: If you also want to be sure people can reach you via FaceTime, make sure you can get calls on it when you are not connected to Wi-Fi by enabling 3G/4G/LTE data use. Go to Settings > Cellular and scroll down until you see FaceTime. Make sure the green button appears.)

How Much Space Can You Reclaim?
The amount of space you can reclaim by deleting pre-installed Apple apps varies, although Apple estimates it's only about 150MB for all 23 apps. It's a little misleading, though, because the amount of space changes dramatically based on the data is associated with each app.

Let's say you used the Music app some time ago, but then switched to a streaming service, like Spotify. If you have old music still downloaded onto your phone, it will all be deleted when you remove the Music app, and that could free up a huge amount of space.

The Videos app is great example, too. This app stores movies and TV shows you've downloaded to watch, not videos you've shot. Maybe you downloaded a movie to watch on a flight long ago and never remembered to delete it. It could be taking up a huge amount of space without you even knowing it, because when you go poking around the iOS settings to manage your storage, the Videos app doesn't even show up! You can only see how much space videos are taking up when you plug your phone into a computer and view the space in iTunes.

If you're still short on storage, read How to Free Up Space on Your iPhone or iPad for more tips. And if you've reclaimed space and are looking for new apps, be sure to check out our lists of the best iPhone apps and iPad apps.

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