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I have over 200 apps on my iPhone 4 (32GB). No one needs that many apps, right? I want to organize my installed apps based on how frequently I use them, and/or how recently I last used them. I could probably take a qualitative, subjective stab at this myself, but I'd like to have some data, just so I don't toss an app that I may have used, but don't remember using. Yeah, I know that deleting isn't forever with apps-- but having geeky data makes me feel good.

So far, I have not found a way to do this. I've seen apps mentioned here on AskDifferent that purport to do such a thing, but have not tried any of them. For some reason, I seem to recall Googling this several months ago, and running across an article describing a way to glean usage information from the backup file(s) that iTunes creates. I can no longer find that article-- not sure if it's gone or if I'm just not using the same search terms as before.

Note that my iPhone is not jailbroken, nor do I wish to jail-break it. I'm not necessarily even interested in an iOS app that gets me this information; I'm simply interested in it any way that it can be had. If that is via Terminal on the desktop, that's fine.

Knowing this kind of usage information would also be objectively useful if I'm trying to implement some kind of app/folder organizational strategy. Otherwise, I'm left to my own intuition about how often I use things, which can be false, or in the least, inefficient.

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No, nobody needs that many apps, but really, nobody actually needs more than a handful of apps to get the job done. I'm a bit of a packrat myself when it comes to apps, and I've got an entire page full of folders that are chock full of apps that I never really touch. That being said, if you're not at a memory shortage because of your apps, is it really important to get rid of them? In most cases, it's a lot easier to have them and not need them, than to need them and not have them—especially if they're more than can download over a cellular connection! –  Terrance Shaw Nov 3 '12 at 21:14
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@TerranceShaw Very true. I'm certainly not short of storage with a 32-GB device, but I'm wondering if I could get by with a 16-GB-- I have ~20-GB of usage now, so I'm guessing I couldn't squeak by... but I'd rather just "know", you know? I totally agree with "...easier to have them and not need them...", though! –  PattMauler Nov 4 '12 at 15:08
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3 Answers 3

To my knowledge there's no way to do this without jail breaking (I'm not sure there is even if you do jailbreak).

Because iOS apps essentially don't run in the background (with exceptions for specific types of apps — i.e. navigation and music players), as soon as you open another app, they have to shut down, and thus have no way of monitoring what's else is going on. Additionally, the sandboxing enforced on iOS apps (at least in the App Store) restricts what system information they know. Even if it were able to monitor in the background, an app shouldn't be able to access information about other running apps.

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I'm not necessarily interested in an app that mines this information; if it can be had that way, that's fine, but I understand what you're saying about the sandboxing. And, I'm not really interested in "how long I played Angry Birds last Tuesday", but rather "I opened Angry Birds last Tuesday." For some reason, I feel like I read something that this type of logged information is kept (albeit encrypted perhaps?) in the backup that iTunes keeps of the device? Like I said, I can't re-find that information on the web now. –  PattMauler Nov 4 '12 at 15:17
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I think I may have found an astoundingly low-tech solution to this problem, and it was right under my nose.

Ever since iOS became "multi-tasking" capable (I say that tongue-in-cheek, as we all know that most apps that get backgrounded aren't still running, they've just had their state saved until used again), the Task Switcher, accessible via a double-press of the Home Button, shows you a more-or-less "use-ordered" list of your apps. Unless you deliberately open the Task Switcher and kill the apps, they linger in there... I guess forever, or until you reboot the device.

So, if I clear all those out, and then just go about my business using my device for a while, and occasionally look at what apps are in my first 3 or 4 "pages" in the Task Switcher, that gives me a decent idea of which apps I use the most-- or at least can tell me the ones that I've used "most recently". Those apps that are on the far right "page" of Task Switcher are the least used (or at least the ones that were used "least recently").

I suppose a person could extend this into a true exercise in statistical geekery by noting the order of the apps on a schedule... say every morning or every evening (or more or less often)... over a period of time; a week, a month, whatever. Then you could compile that into useful info for yourself.

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@PattMauler : Check this out : http://yardley.ca/2011/04/02/viewing-your-ios-application-usage/

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Welcome to this site! Answers on AskDifferent should contain more than just a link. Can you please add the solution (or at least a summary) to your answer? Link-only answers will be deleted. –  patrix Mar 25 '13 at 11:26
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