Apple's space-saving App Thinning feature delayed due to iCloud issue

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2020
Users looking to take advantage of iOS 9 App Thinning, a suite of optimization technologies created to reduce the size of app installs, will have to wait, as Apple announced unavailability of a key component due to an iCloud bug.




In a post to its developer website on Thursday, Apple informed developers that an issue with iCloud backups prompted the deactivation of "app slicing," a technology that pares down an app's footprint by limiting stored resources to the bare essentials.

As one of App Thinning's three tentpole features, app slicing allows downloads to contain only those assets required for a particular device configuration. For example, an app running on an iPhone 5s may not need the same graphical assets as a larger-screened iPhone 6, so those files are not downloaded.

Since the iOS App Store separates assets to push out to specific devices, users are theoretically able to transport app data across different devices without trouble. However, a bug in iCloud is prohibiting app backups from restoring to other device types; from iPhone 5s to iPhone 6, for example. Instead of device-specific downloads, customers will receive full Universal app versions until the problem has been addressed in a future software update, Apple said. App evaluation tool TestFlight will continue to deliver variants to testers.

App slicing, On Demand Resources and Bitcode form a triad of space-saving iOS 9 features Apple dubbed App Thinning. In conjunction with iCloud storage and syncing, App Thinning and other technologies enable sales of lower capacity, and therefore cheaper, device variants like the 16GB iPhone 6s.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Ok Tim it's time to hire someone to run iCloud who knows what the hell they're doing. Eddy Cue is out of his eague here (and probably has too much on his plate anyway).
  • Reply 2 of 17
    Even when it was working it really didn't save much space; a whole 75MB between three apps (big ones, too) on my iPad.

    It's time for Apple to stop being cheap and just update the base storage to 32GB.

    https://david-smith.org/blog/2015/09/10/16gb-is-a-bad-user-experience/
  • Reply 3 of 17
    It would be better for the article to refer to (say) 5S and 6 , as all image assets are different between those two (@2x for 5S, @3x for 6 ).

    @thewhitefalcon - it's clearly going to depend on the app, some have very few images etc. It's mainly going to benefit games, I suspect.

    Still, it's really dumb that they didn't foresee this particular issue.
  • Reply 4 of 17
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,385member
    Now I see how it works. Instead of downloading the full app, which contains the resources and code for an iPad, iPhone 5/5S, iPhone 6 and 6 , iCloud holds back those resources so only the ones needed are downloaded to the phone.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    I learned about this the hard way yesterday, after two trips to the Genius Bar to simply get a screen replaced on my iPhone 6. Apple is quickly turning into Microsoft: so many disparate products and programs, none of which make sense, and even the Apple staff (however friendly) have no idea what they're doing.

    Apple stores can no longer do a simple screen replacement if your phone has iOS 9; this is because their machines haven't been sent an updated calibration program. So they just offered a replacement 6 for the price of a screen (what a waste of money).

    But then the new phone had iOS 8 so the rep uploaded iOS 9 from a laptop. That turned out to be 9.0.1 which means my Mac (which I brought along to do the phone restore right there, as nothing seems to work at Apple like it should), needed an update to iTunes before it could see the phone. It was also a Yosemite update, so suffice it to say, it took forever.

    So 90 minutes, two computer reboots, and two iPhone reboots later: my "restored" phone contains no apps. All I could do was go into iTunes and place every single app back on the phone and start over. I said f*** that and took back my broken phone.

    I've had it.
  • Reply 6 of 17
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Even when it was working it really didn't save much space; a whole 75MB between three apps (big ones, too) on my iPad.

    It's time for Apple to stop being cheap and just update the base storage to 32GB.

    https://david-smith.org/blog/2015/09/10/16gb-is-a-bad-user-experience/

    As I've said in other threads it's not going to happen until a majority of the install base has been upsold to the mid-tier model. And then at that point Schiller and Cook may decide it's not worth it. Heck I could see in 2017 or 2018 the storage capacity being 16 > 128 > 256.
  • Reply 7 of 17

    For weeks now, on 9.0 betas and 9.1 betas, App Updates I take on my iPhone 6 have not been transferring back to iTunes when I sync so I had assumed that app thinning was already in play and that iTunes insisted on downloading a full version (components for iPhone AND iPad) while my iPhone only had a partial version (data for the iPhone 6 part of the app). 

     

    Well, obviously that's not what was happening so it looks like I'll be logging a bug. :/

  • Reply 8 of 17
    misamisa Posts: 827member
    rogifan wrote: »
    Ok Tim it's time to hire someone to run iCloud who knows what the hell they're doing. Eddy Cue is out of his eague here (and probably has too much on his plate anyway).

    It's not as simple as you think. Given this is Apple and not Google, where Google would be a giant cluster****.

    Many apps with the changes of screen sizes can only target the smallest device screen. For example if you run an iPhone app on an iPad, you get an iPhone sized screen.

    But it still works.

    Some software (eg Unity) does the App thinning itself for the iOS devices, but doesn't distinguish between different sizes. Android? Not going to happen.

    Fun fact: Mosty unity apps are optimized for iPhone, and rely on the underlying OpenGL ES driver to convert between compressed texture formats, which is another reason why Android software is slow. If the App Thinning could be applied more fine-grained against devices by knowing the capabilities at compile time, the asset bundles could be optimized specificly for the CPU and GPU capabilities and not just "what works on the oldest model with significant market share."

    It has nothing to do with iCloud in that respect. The "bug" in iCloud is that backing up an iPhone 4 and restoring it to an iPhone 6 doesn't take into account the change in screen assets or CPU instructions. The backup would need to be taken apart once restored to the device and the all the apps updated before any of the apps could be used again. That's a mess. The correct application of this is to backup the software receipts and when a device is restored not to restore software that needs to be updated and push the update for that device instead. But that's a privacy issue.
  • Reply 9 of 17
    For weeks now, on 9.0 betas and 9.1 betas, App Updates I take on my iPhone 6 have not been transferring back to iTunes when I sync so I had assumed that app thinning was already in play and that iTunes insisted on downloading a full version (components for iPhone AND iPad) while my iPhone only had a partial version (data for the iPhone 6 part of the app).

    Well, obviously that's not what was happening so it looks like I'll be logging a bug. :/
    I've received over the last couple days repeats of just about all the updates I've installed since iOS 9 was released. I think they were using thinning, realized that users with thin apps wouldn't be able to restore them to new hardware (like a certain phone a lot of people will be receiving tomorrow), and reissued all thinned updates as universal versions.
  • Reply 10 of 17
    Me too gordon1420, repeats of lots of apps.
    I'll wait a few days and see if it continues.
  • Reply 11 of 17
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Misa View Post



    It has nothing to do with iCloud in that respect. The "bug" in iCloud is that backing up an iPhone 4 and restoring it to an iPhone 6 doesn't take into account the change in screen assets or CPU instructions. The backup would need to be taken apart once restored to the device and the all the apps updated before any of the apps could be used again. That's a mess.

     

    App Store content, and other content that can be redownloaded, is never backed up in iCloud anyway. It's actually an store review requirement. The system already works as you specify.

  • Reply 12 of 17
    And are the delaying the sale of the 16GB iPhone 6S as a consequence? Nop
  • Reply 13 of 17
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  • Reply 14 of 17
    hagarhagar Posts: 121member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Misa View Post



    It's not as simple as you think. Given this is Apple and not Google, where Google would be a giant cluster****.

     

     

    Are you serious? I don't know any IT company that is as bad as Apple when it comes to upgrading. They don't have any clue and just release new versions without taking older versions into account.

     

    - upgrading to iOS 9? If you enable the new Notes app you'll have to wait for OS X El Capitan. Ok, not a major issue, but hardly elegant. Last year was even worse with the iCloud Drive option that was not available until Yosemite was released.

    - issues with incompatible backups / OS X versions / iOS versions .... 

    - the terrible state of iCloud, including Photos and Apple Music that still don't work as expected between different OS versions

    - Recently I wanted to open some old Pages documents. I couldn't because I needed to upgrade them first with an older version of Pages that was not available for my OSX version. What the hell?

     

    Apple works as long as you have the latest and greatest. Otherwise, it's a mess.

  • Reply 15 of 17
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    hagarhagar Posts: 121member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dklebedev View Post

     

    It's a design and life philosophy. I pay them to keep dumping the ballast.




    There should be a middle ground: not supporting a decade old OS is one thing, but not being able to open your own files anymore is another. 

  • Reply 17 of 17
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
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