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Google tests a feature that tells you which apps to remove when you run out of room on your phone

TechCrunch TechCrunch 2/06/2016 Sarah Perez

Running out of room on your smartphone is a problem many mobile consumers have today, thanks to sizable photo, video, and music libraries saved on their device. That means that when these users try to download a new app, that process may fail due to a lack of disk space. Since mid-May, Google been testing a new feature that could help solve this problem. Thanks to an updated user interface in Google Play, this feature would suggest which apps could be uninstalled to make room for the new download.

This news was first reported by the blog Android Police, which spotted this “uninstall manager” in the wild.

When a user tries to download an app they don’t have enough space for, a new screen will pop up suggesting apps they could uninstall to free up space. It also links to “Settings > Storage” where you can delete unneeded media files. Unfortunately, it doesn’t suggest uploading files to the cloud – like via Google Drive or Google Photos, for example – as a means of freeing up space.

What’s interesting about this uninstall manager screen is that it doesn’t just suggest apps to remove based on their size – it takes in consideration those that haven’t been used in a while. These unloved apps are presented to you, ranked by size. You can then check off the ones you want to get rid of, and click “continue” to complete the removal.

The problem of insufficient disk space is one that affects users with low-end devices more often, but that’s still a good chunk of Android’s user base, thanks to the rapidly declining selling price of Android phones, which has allowed it to top iOS’s market share by a wide margin. Combined with apps that ask for heavy amounts of on-device storage – especially games (Android Police cites LEGO Star Wars as needing over a gig, for instance) – it can be easy to run out of room.

Google’s larger solution to the problem of hefty, slow-to-load apps, more recently, has been to cut them up into tinier pieces to speed up their installation and launch. This technology is called “Instant Apps,” and is just now getting into the hands of developers. However, we understand that Google has no plans to tie this app uninstallation system to Instant Apps – it is its own thing.

Not everyone is seeing the new feature, as it’s only an experiment with a limited group of users for the time being.

Google has not yet determined when it will roll out to all users globally, reliable sources tell us.

Google declined to offer an official comment on the feature.

Image credit: Android Police

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