How to Reduce the Size of Your iPhone App
By Mehul Rajput
Let's talk storage space. There are many differences between iOS and Android devices, but one of the best perks Android users get over iPhone owners is the ability to boost the maximum capacity of their handset's storage through microSD cards. Apple does not include any possibility for memory extension into its phone's designs, meaning that once you choose an iPhone model, you're pretty much stuck with that respective internal storage capacity.
Figure 1: You want to save space
You can imagine how this becomes a problem in the long run. Off the bat, a portion of that capacity is shaved off because it is used for the phone's operating system and other system files, similar to how Windows or Mac OS X take a chunk out of your hard drive. In an ecosystem that survives under these circumstances on top of having to allocate precious resources for mundane things like pictures and video files, it's not a very good idea to release an app that is huge in size. Having users choose between installing your app and not completely chocking their devices isn't a good marketing strategy; therefore, we are here to help you make your mobile app smaller and thereby more accessible for iPhones with low storage capacities. Most apps offer multiple versions baked into one big app that soothes all compatible devices. Most of these solutions will look at separating the different included versions and thus producing lighter apps that serve more segmented audiences individually.
Slice Assets to Cut Through App Sizes
The process of asset slicing implies that you divide the workload of your app among several versions. Each version would tend to a target device or group of devices. By using a catalogue that specifically deals with assets, you can see which assets must be put where so that you cover all your supported devices in the end. Once it's ready, the device targeting app version can be released on the Play Store just like any app. It's up to you how extensive targeting will get when splitting app assets.
On-demand Resources Put Less Demand on iPhone Storage
More often than should be the case, we see apps downloading everything but the kitchen sink into a user's phone, regardless of how much of that information they actually need. Seeing the counterproductive nature of this method of app delivery, app developers have come up with on-demand resources; this means an app will only download the files it needs at a particular moment in time. If more are required, more are downloaded. This prevents users' iPhones from becoming clogged by content they will never use. Even within the content bank of used information, we can find resources that aren't frequently used. Some resources might be used slightly now and again, not justifying the space it would otherwise occupy on the phone. On-demand resources are great for this as well, because they provide a sort of external, on-demand storage for iPhones. From there, they can access said content whenever that rare occasion in which they are needed presents itself arises.
Bitcode Comes to the Rescue
Bitcode allows an app developer to send various changes that might occur within an app directly to the app version that was initially submitted to the App Store. What this means is that there will be no further need for constant additional downloads of the same app when a new update is introduced. This has the potential of saving users a lot of time and more importantly, storage room. Although some might discard this method, it is important to keep in mind how limited an iPhone's internal storage is.
Bringing Them All Together
This is quite self-implied, but it wouldn't hurt to be emphasized upon a bit more. Even though each of these individual methods works towards providing apps that are easier on the storage room, the true magic happens when you put them all together. Their combined impacts will results in your app offering iPhone users the ability to store something more than a note after they install your service.
That being said, there is a lot of trimming to be done with most mobile apps and, because iPhones will have none of that extra memory chocking information, the lightest and space friendliest apps will be the ones that best manage their resources and justify the method and timing of usage behind them. Those poor souls with only 16 GB available on their iPhones will surely thank you for making their lives easier and reducing the memory costs of your app.
About the Author
Mehul Rajput is a CEO of Mindinventory, a company that provides mobile app development services in iOS and Android platforms for global clients. He loves to write on mobile technologies, app development, startups, and entrepreneurship.