An In-Depth Look at Storage and App Thinning on the New Apple TV

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Ahead of the release of the new fourth-generation Apple TV, Polygon has taken an in-depth look at the device, giving an explanation on how storage is used. Apple offers the Apple TV in 32 and 64GB storage configurations, but initial app downloads are restricted to 200MB, which has led to some confusion about how the storage works and what it's used for on the device.

Though apps on the device are limited to 200MB of storage space when downloaded, on-demand resources, part of iOS 9's App Thinning feature designed to reduce app size, allow tvOS apps to download and delete content whenever needed, such as levels that are already played or levels that have yet to be played. Developers can store 20GB of on-demand resources for apps in iCloud.


With app sizes limited to 200MB on the surface, it might seem like more than 32GB of storage is unnecessary, but apps can actually download up to 2GB of resources immediately after installation. Apple TV users who plan to play a lot of games or use a lot of resource-heavy apps could potentially find themselves using a large amount of storage, so the 64GB upgrade could be worthwhile.
Using this architecture, all of the bits and bytes that, together, make up the whole of every Apple TV app live in some combination two places: Apple's servers and on your Apple TV. Here's how it breaks down:

- The app bundle, accessible through the App Store, limited to 200 MB
- Initial install tags, which are on-demand resources limited to a total of 2 GB (in addition to the 200 MB initial app bundle)
- Prefetched data, which is prioritized for automatic download after the initial app bundle's installation
- Data hosted by the App Store, available on demand, limited to a total pre-sliced size of 20 GB (in addition to the app bundle's size limit)
Apple's own guidelines on storage don't offer much information. Apple suggests that customers who plan to stream movies, TV shows, and music, or play "a few apps and games" will be able to make do with 32GB storage. Those who plan to "download and use lots of apps and games" should choose the 64GB configuration.

Polygon spoke with a number of developers about App Thinning on the Apple TV. While some with smaller apps within the 200MB limit were not bothered, others, like Tyrone Rodriguez who works on The Binding of Isaac, suspected it could be troublesome to deal with App Thinning features.
"App size will be, and no pun intended, a huge issue for some developers," Rodriguez tells Polygon. "This means The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth won't meet Apple's requirements without serious reworking. This device is intended for in-home wi-fi/wired Internet, but it's clear that Apple [wants] to reduce the file size so that more apps can fit on the device. It's a bit disingenuous and not ideal for the game developer."
For a deeper look at how the Apple TV's storage works, how it takes advantage of App Thinning, the benefits of App Thinning, and what developers think of the Apple TV's storage limitations, make sure to check out Polygon's full article on the new Apple TV.

Apple began selling its new Apple TV in its online store this morning, with the first Apple TVs arriving to customers later this week. The device is priced at $149 for a 32GB version and $199 for a 64GB version.

Article Link: An In-Depth Look at Storage and App Thinning on the New Apple TV
 

btrach144

macrumors demi-god
Aug 28, 2015
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Indiana
So in other words, every developer is having to go throw lots of steps and lots of pain to make their app work because Apple is cheap and won't put in 64 GB and 128 GB?

I feel like the Apple TV is going to end up like the Apple watch, AKA no apps!:(
 

captain cadet

macrumors 6502
Sep 2, 2012
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So will this thing fly through my data capped home internet service?
Not really as this is the same feature in iOS - well it may if you do a lot of streaming on netflix, then again if you had a Google Chromecast it would do the same...
 

captain cadet

macrumors 6502
Sep 2, 2012
404
627
So in other words, every developer is having to go throw lots of steps and lots of pain to make their app work because Apple is cheap and won't put in 64 GB and 128 GB?

I feel like the Apple TV is going to end up like the Apple watch, AKA no apps!:(
The apple watch has the issue of a weak processor, bad battery and not much storage because its so small....
 

MikhailT

macrumors 601
Nov 12, 2007
4,471
1,091
So in other words, every developer is having to go throw lots of steps and lots of pain to make their app work because Apple is cheap and won't put in 64 GB and 128 GB?

I feel like the Apple TV is going to end up like the Apple watch, AKA no apps!:(
1. This isn't exclusive to Apple TV, it will benefit all of the Apple platforms. They will have to go through it anyway, even without AppleTV.
2. You don't want to download 2GB of content all at once if you don't like the game after a few levels. Try the first 200mb and if you like it, it will download the rest on the fly.
3. Apple TV is available with 64GB.
4. Apple Watch is doing just fine for a first gen, watchOS 2.0 is really the first version where you can build native apps and that is only out for less than a month. It will take several months to build up the apps and so on, just like Apple TV.
5. TV usage is still high enough that developers will want to build apps to generate more revenue.
 

Duane Martin

macrumors 6502
Oct 15, 2004
391
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Calgary, Alberta
It will likely take awhile for developers and users to wrap their heads around storage issues but there is serious money for the developers who do make a killer game within these parameters. There are going to be lots of users looking for good content who have already shown they are willing to spend money in the App store.
 

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,688
When it comes to a set top box like this, what's wrong with a regular HDD? I'd rather have one less device to worry about storage and manage the content on it.
1. Expensive. 32 GB flash is around $8 according to DRAM Exchange. The cheapest laptop hard drive is around $40 retail, so maybe $20-30 wholesale.
2. Power regulations. Set top box can't draw more than 1 watt idle by Energy Star. A hard drive draws 2-3 watts. Means you have to continually spin the drive up and down, causing wear and long latency.
3. Unreliable. You need cooling and heat sinks, adding to the cost, plus special packaging to prevent it from damage during shipping, plus the inevitable warranty returns.

This is why cable companies are getting rid of HDDs in their DVRs. Cloud DVR is much cheaper.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,043
14,859
Central U.S.
I'm getting the 64GB version for Christmas in hopes that Apple will come to their senses with the requirement for the remote controller, allowing more advanced games to come to the platform. However I also like racing games and 2D platformers and those should play ok with a simple controller. I'm hoping a lot of educational games for kids are developed for it. But how in the world do you play Minecraft or a FPS with an Apple TV remote? Is it going to be a thing where it loads pong if you only have the remote, but plays the proper game once you connect a BT controller? Would that get around the rules? Frustrating.
 

Markoth

macrumors 6502
Oct 1, 2015
490
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Behind You
Okay now this is a good application for downloading an app's resources on-demand. The ATV is basically useless without an internet connection anyway (can't stream without one). Might as well lean more towards the cloud-based side of things. On a mobile device, this feature really doesn't make any sense to me. You can't guarantee connectivity. This feature was probably designed for the ATV from the beginning.
 
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Jdonofrio

macrumors newbie
Jun 21, 2014
9
1
The base iPad Pro only comes with 32gb of storage. What are you going to do on an apple tv that needs more storage than an iPad? AirPlay games. Do you really need that exclusive frogger-knock-off-Apple-TV-only demo they showed?
 
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