It has never been easy for mobile users to make do with their devices’ rather limited storage space, but the problem seems to be escalating lately towards worrying heights. Android games weighing in at 1 or 2 GB are no longer a rarity, but more like a rule, so if you want to hold a couple of those, but also some music, one or two movies and still be left with something, you will need one heck of a phone.
Not everyone can afford devices with 32 or 64 GB of on-board storage, and, while expanding the internal memory with SD cards is a decent and affordable option, the number of phones and tablets lacking SD support seems to be also increasing.
But what’s been driving the memory issue to this almost critical point where users are forced to sacrifice content not because they can’t afford it, but because they can’t afford its weight? Why, the increase in app sizes, of course.
According to an ABI Research study, both iOS and Android average app sizes have been growing at an alarming pace of late, reaching some numbers we never thought possible. iOS games, for example, are now 60 MB in average, up 42% from back March.
Meanwhile, iOS apps in general have increased 16% in size between March and September 2012, while Android apps are now 10% larger than they were last spring. The kicker? Android games’ near quadrupling in average size, from a little over 10 MB to around 40 MB in just six months.
The same study talks about two possible reasons for the iOS app size increase, one applying almost perfectly to Android too. This is the new high-resolution graphics used by iPad’s new Retina display which forces developers to come out with much more visually complex apps. The same goes for Android devices, which haven’t got a new “Retina” display, but have made quite the leap in the technical department in the last year or so, with more capable screens, snappier processors and more demanding GPUs.
The second reason why ABI Research thinks iOS apps have grown is the March increase in the OTA App Store download limit from 20 to 50 MB.
While this is definitely a worrying trend especially for those of us that are fond of our budgets, there is one positive conclusion that can be drawn from the report. According to Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst for ABI, “the developers’ bar to impress will be getting even higher than it is now” as “consumers are likely to become more conscious about what apps to keep and what to uninstall”.
Mobile cloud storage is another solution for the swift solving of the issue, according to Markkanen, though many tech manufacturers are still delaying adopting this alternative on a large scale.
What are your thoughts on this seemingly spooky increase in app sizes? Is it a good or a bad thing? Should manufacturers offer more cloud storage or just up the on-board memory of their devices? How about SD card slots, should they become standard even for iPads and Nexus devices?