Apple's iOS 6 does not have a virtual limit on apps

A claim that Apple's next major iOS release cannot handle more than 500 installed apps without crashing is under question.

Josh Lowensohn
Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
2 min read

There is no such limit in place to keep users of Apple's next major iOS release from installing 500 or more applications without ill effects on system performance, says a person familiar with the latest beta of the software.

Instead, the reported "virtual limit" on the number of applications users can install on Apple's next iOS before it becomes unusable may have been an isolated incident.

That information -- which CNET cannot test yet because iOS 6 is currently available only to developers who have signed a non-disclosure agreement -- contradicts a report from Mid Atlantic Consulting. Yesterday, the company made the claim that users who installed more than 500 apps on their iOS device running iOS 6 will experience severe slowdowns, as well as random rebooting. That report further claimed that those with 1,000 apps installed would not even be able to get their devices to start, adding that Apple had confirmed the issue as a bug, and was working on a fix.

The author of the original report says the testing of the pre-release version of the software took place on four different iOS devices, including an iPhone and iPad, and that the problem occured on all of those devices as the number of installed apps went past 500. Apple declined to comment on the report.

How many applications users can have installed is of significance given the growth of built-in system storage, as well as the library of content available on mobile application stores. In Apple's case, there are now more than 650,000 apps on its App Store, according to the company's most recently-released figures.

Apple, for its part, makes no claims about how many applications users can have installed on any given iOS device. With 11 home screen pages and the use of folders, users can theoretically have up to 2,160 applications installed and viewable. The software is also set up to let users install additional applications beyond what they can see on the home screen, then launch them from the built-in search feature.

Apple historically hasn't provided details on how many applications the average user has installed. However, dividing the number of iOS devices sold (365 million) by the number of reported application downloads (25 billion), that's around 68 apps per user. Of course that figure does not take into account iOS devices that are not in use anymore, or the fact that users may own several iOS devices under the same iTunes account.

iOS 6 is currently in its third developer beta, with a release expected to coincide with the company's next iPhone in the fall. Apple went through seven beta versions of iOS 5, which went out to users last October.

Updated at 1:44 p.m. PT with additional detail about the testing.