A hidden gem of a clue has been discovered, hiding in plain view within section 2c of Apple’s End User License Agreement (EULA) for iOS. This treasure is just a couple of sentences, but it hints that Apple has been considering since iOS 8 the option to remove some of those preinstalled apps we hate so much.
The first hint that deleting preinstalled apps is coming soon
We talked a few days ago about evidence that Apple is preparing to allow for the removal of preinstalled apps. Two new boolenan keys have been added to iTunes metadata, “isFirstParty” and “isFirstPartyHideableApp.” It’s been suggested, first, that this indicates at least some preinstalled apps will be eligible for being hidden or uninstalled. Not all of them, though, as our own Bryan Wolfe points out, because Tim Cook has stressed that some apps “are linked to something else on the iPhone.”
That hidden gem I was telling you about
Now, on to the interesting tidbit. As reader funhitman pointed out, the permission to remove preinstalled apps is provided within the EULA for iOS. That language has been in the EULA since iOS 8, so it’s obvious that Cupertino has been thinking about letting us remove those pesky apps. So why haven’t they, yet? Since the language clearly states, “If you do not wish to use a Preinstalled App, you can delete it from your iOS Device at any time.” In other words, Apple’s been in violation of its own EULA since iOS 8, no?
Yes, why can't we remove preinstalled apps yet?
There are some apps that are linked to something else on the iPhone. If they were to be removed they might cause issues elsewhere on the phone. There are other apps that aren’t like that.- Tim Cook
The key to figuring out why we can’t remove those preinstalled apps yet might be in the quote from Tim Cook to Buzzfeed back in September:
“What might happen, for example, if someone were to click on a Web link after removing Safari? If another browser has been installed, the operating system needs to be written such that it would open in that other browser. If Cupertino didn’t build that particular functionality into iOS from the beginning, it means rewriting quite a bit of code. Since we can’t set a different browser as our default, it seems safe to assume that iOS does not yet offer that functionality.”
And it's not just Safari
Remember, it’s not just Safari that knows how to open particular links. The operating system knows to open street addresses up in Maps, for instance. I’m sure there are plenty of other interconnected apps within the operating system, and that’s just talking about first-party ones. Next are the third-party apps, so Apple has to think about those, too.
Sum it up in a nutshell, Jeff
Okay, so basically, Apple has to determine which apps get linked together from others, and code in a way to deal with what might happen if a required app has been deleted. Since Cupertino has been working on new and more exciting features, that capability has probably taken the back burner. Now, as we come up to the days of iOS 10, there’s the indication that Apple might be finally bringing the possibility of removing preinstalled apps to fruition. Let’s hope so, anyways.