Do you hate looking at a sea of unwanted icons on your iPhone or iPad? That sea may soon be a bit smaller. According to some newly discovered clues, it looks like Apple is planning to let users hide some of those unwanted stock iOS apps.
New keys have recently popped up in iTunes store metadata labeled “isFirstParty” and “isFirstPartyHideableApp”. First reported by AppAdvice, the code indicates that Apple is listening to users who want to reduce the clutter that often consumes iPhone and iPad launch screens.
The “hideable” portion of the second key, with the possible value of “false”, suggests that not all first-party iOS apps will have the option to be hidden. Important apps such as Mail, Messages, Safari and App Store would likely remain exposed at all times because some users could become confused if they accidentally hide them. Meanwhile, non-essential apps including iBooks, Wallet and Find Friends would be prime candidates for being hidden.
Last September, Tim Cook acknowledged that while Apple was looking into allowing users to hide stock app icons from view, uninstalling them isn’t a practical approach due to the complexity of how some apps are needed across the operating system.
If they were to be removed they might cause issues elsewhere on the phone. There are other apps that aren’t like that. So over time, I think with the ones that aren’t like that, we’ll figure out a way [for you to remove them].
There's another reason the new feature is not a surprise. In January of this year, Apple introduced Configurator 2.2 which allows administrators to hide and expose certain apps in multi-device settings.
Google and Microsoft also don’t allow the uninstallation of stock apps from their mobile operating systems. However, both platforms employ user interface schemes that separate the complete list of apps from the main launcher area, an approach Apple has steadfastly refused to take since introducing the largely unchanged iOS home screen in 2007.