by James A. Martin

3 Reasons to Put Your iPhone on an App Diet

Sep 14, 20123 mins

Chances are you’re not using the vast majority of apps on your iPhone. blogger James A. Martin says it’s time to give those unused apps the boot. Here's why.

“There’s something in the App Store for everyone,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the iPhone 5 launch Wednesday. He then added that the average iPhone customer uses more than 100 apps.

No one could doubt the first part of Cook’s statement. It’s that second sentence I’m not so sure of. I think the truth is more like this: The average iPhone user has downloaded more than 100 apps. But I’ll bet they regularly use only a small percentage of them. After I read Cook’s statement, I flicked through the apps on my iPhone 4 (soon to be replaced by the latest/greater model). I counted 88. Of those, I use only four every day: Mail, Calendar, Safari, and Weather.

ios screen shots

On a monthly basis, I’d include also include Photos, Camera, Maps, App Store, Calculator, Clock, Messages, Klout, Nike + Running, Dropbox, Flixster, HootSuite, Pandora, Springpad, my banking app and Numbers. That’s a grand total of 20 apps I fire up every day, or at least once a month. The remaining 68 apps on my device I use maybe once a quarter, less, or frankly, not at all.

I don’t believe I’m unusual in this regard. First of all, who has the time to use more than a few apps every day? Secondly, the sheer volume of free and inexpensive apps makes our eyes bigger than our stomachs, so to speak—like being at a buffet line and loading up your plate, just because you can.

Put another way: How many times has a friend raved to you about an app, which you promptly downloaded, used a couple of times and then completely forgot?

During the third quarter of 2010, a study from Localytics found that 26 percent of downloaded smartphone and tablet apps were only used once, though that percentage subsequently declined to 22 percent when the company updated its research one year later.

My point? After taking a hard look at my iPhone, I’ve decided to streamline my iOS apps. The goal is to keep only the apps I regularly use on my iPhone. Here are three reasons why:

1. The apps I only use occasionally can, most of the time, be easily downloaded from iCloud as needed. So why clutter up my iPhone with pages of app icons to flick through or search? You could also create a folder for all the apps you rarely use, of course. But for some reason, I dislike using those app folders and I rarely see my friends using them.

2. The more apps on your iPhone (or Android), the less storage space available for your music, videos, and photos. Considering the new iPhone 5’s awesome-sounding camera, you might want to take lots of high-resolution pictures, which eat up storage.

3. From a financial standpoint, it wouldn’t hurt to reign in impulse app purchases. All those $1 and $2 apps may seem like no big deal, but the costs add up over time. That’s something I doubt you’ll hear Tim Cook—or anyone else in the mobile apps business—say.