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A call for more storage in iOS devices

David Winograd

Back in the olden days, when I bought my first Disk ][ to hang onto my Apple ][ Plus, I was amazed at how much the 140KB floppy drive could store. After using it for a while, I was sure that it was big enough to hold every program I'd ever buy, and most of the programs my kids would need as well. Nowadays, of course, I have a 32GB iPhone 3GS and a 64GB iPad, and I'm out of room.

The release of Riven brought into focus just how crazy this all is. Riven weighs in at 1.01GB and requires you to have 2GB of free storage just to install it. I don't blame the game itself -- in fact, I played it when it was the first DVD-based game ever for the Mac, replacing five CD-ROMs. The graphics were superb, and I understand that they require lots of memory to hold them, but really! I took a look at some of the larger iOS apps I currently have installed, and Treasure Island, the Experience is the largest, weighing in at 468MB, or nearly half a GB. The next seven biggest range between 393.7MB and 286.3MB, adding up to over 2GB. And I'm not even a game player -- if you installed the HD version of Rage recently, you had to clear up 744MB of space for that one alone. These apps are mostly recent releases, and I don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

As more developers take advantage of the tremendous graphic abilities of the iPad and the Retina Displays of the current crop of iPhones and iPod touches, apps are going to continue to bloat, eventually taking up the lion's share of available storage. Add that to a large photo library and wanting to keep as much music as possible on my devices, and something has to give. For me, it already has. I have less than 2GB available on either of my iOS devices. Yes, I could dump some stuff to make room for newer content, but I like what I currently have and swapping things in and out is not all that user friendly.

Originally, it was feasible to download your iPhone apps via 3G, but that option has all but gone away for anything complex since we have all butted our heads against the 20MB upper limit for 3G downloads. Times have changed, and I feel that it's time for Apple to change with them. In today's environment, I don't think that bumping an iPhone up to 64GB of storage is going to do all that much for those who constantly find more and more compelling apps and undiscovered uses of what iOS devices can do. What I'm looking for is an across the board increase in storage to 128GB for all iOS devices. That would go for the iPad 2 and the iPhone 5 as well as for iPod touches.

For all I know, 128GB won't solve the problem in anything more than the short term, but it will give me some breathing room. I certainly don't want to restrain developers from bringing the richest possible experience to our mobile devices, so I'm not looking for them to slim apps. I'm looking to Apple to hold more of them.

Have you run into this problem, or or am I just being an app hog?

[Ed's note: Of course, increasing memory in these devices would also increase the cost, and that's a battle Apple is constantly fighting already. And as you may have heard about 640KB, memory requirements are increasing just as quickly as memory capacity is. Even with 128GB, we'll soon fill that up with apps of 2GB, 5GB or even 10GB in the future.]

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