A new survey confirms what many of us have long suspected: apps are getting larger. In the past six months, in fact, the average app size has grown 16 percent, according to ABI Research.
Not surprisingly, the Games category in the App Store saw the largest rise. Between March and September, the average game increased in size by 42 percent.
There are three primary reasons for the recent super-sizing, including the spring introduction of the new iPad, download limits being raised by Apple, and the increasing use by developers of universal apps.
The new iPad is the first of Apple’s tablets to include stunning Retina display support. Unfortunately, this functionality comes at a cost.
As I first reported in March, in order to work with the new iPad’s 2048 x 1536 Retina display, developers must increase the size of their apps. The result, in some cases, is striking.
Apple’s Pages app, for example, was just 95MB before the new iPad arrived. Soon after, the app jumped in size to 269MB. Currently, the app weighs 231MB.
The company’s iMovie app meanwhile was 70MB before the update. Soon after, it was 404MB. With its latest update, the app is 473MB.
Unfortunately, these app size increases don’t just affect those using the new iPad since Apple doesn’t fragment their releases. Therefore, any bump in size is passed onto other iOS devices, even though these users cannot experience the new iPad’s display capabilities.
Another issue causing an increase in app sizes is Apple’s decision to raise their over-the-air download limit to 50MB from 20GB in March. This means users are now able to make more impulse buying decisions on the fly and developers know this.
Finally, app sizes are increasing because more of them are universal. By their very nature, these apps must work on all iOS devices. This, in turn, requires more code.
According to ABI Research analyst Aapo Markkanen:
The consumers with 16GB devices are likely to become more conscious about what apps to keep and what to uninstall. The developer’s bar to impress will be getting higher than it is now.
Our advice: Nothing suggests that apps are going to get smaller in size anytime soon. Therefore, keep this in mind when making future buying decisions. Do you hear that would-be “iPad Mini” buyers?