tvOS is missing an essential feature. Users cannot check how much free storage space remains on their Apple TV. This article explains how to check how much storage space is left on Apple TV.
Apple TV is a relatively new device, which means it is a bit rough around the edges. Its core operating system is derived from iOS, making it very stable. Unfortunately, the Apple TV team’s contributions are mediocre at best. tvOS is rife with annoying quirks and cosmetic defects. As with all Apple TV releases, they seem to break things with software updates. This also happened with my previous second generation Apple TV.
Let’s face it — Apple is not putting their best and brightest engineers on Apple TV. It’s probably a group composed of newly hired engineers and existing underperforming Apple employees who were reassigned. It makes sense for Apple to place their brightest employees on the iPhone and Mac. That said, Apple TV owners need to set their expectations appropriately. Don’t expect iPhone quality from Apple TV.
Apple TV Doesn’t Provide Storage Usage Information
The fourth generation Apple TV is available in a 32GB or 64GB version. With its App Store, Apple TV users can install apps from a growing selection. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to figure out how many apps can be installed on your Apple TV. Out of the box, tvOS doesn’t provide statistics on free and used storage space. This is unusual, as both iOS and macOS provide detailed information on storage usage. At best, you may be alerted that you’ve run out of storage space.
tvOS does provide a way to manage storage and view how much space each app is using. Clicking on Settings > General > Manage Storage displays a list of apps and the amount of storage space they use. Unfortunately, this isn’t accurate. For example, the Manage Storage screen shows that Asphalt 8 uses 167.9 MB of space. That’s the initial download, but once you start the game, additional resources are downloaded. The game ends up using almost 2 GB of space when fully installed.
Researching this discrepancy, I discovered that tvOS will automatically delete extra app data as storage space becomes scarce. This means that, to some extent, these statistics are accurate. As you fill up your Apple TV with apps, additional resources will be deleted, while the core app remains intact. If this happens with a game, the resources will have to be downloaded the next time you launch the app. This can take a long time! Also, if you don’t have enough free space, you might not even be able to download the assets for a game you already downloaded. Oops!
It’s possible that product managers decided not to show overall storage statistics, as they may be misleading. Given the way that storage space is dynamically managed, it’s difficult to say how much is really used. Some video apps may allocate a cache, which temporarily consumes space, but can be deleted. When you install new apps, temporary data and app resources are deleted to make room for more apps. This makes it all the more difficult to report used and available storage space.
Although it’s a complex situation, given the fact that users must choose between a 32GB or 64GB model, the amount of available storage space is important. Fortunately, a generous app developer has provided a simple and free app that can provide this information.
TV Storage Info Shows How Much Storage Space is Left on Apple TV
The App Store is full of great apps, but also has a few scams. In researching this article, I found numerous apps that provide system information for the exorbitant price of $20. Although these apps provide information about RAM and processor usage, it’s pretty much academic. You’re not going to upgrade the processor or RAM in your Apple TV. Basically, these developers are taking advantage of the Apple TV team’s incompetence. Since Apple doesn’t provide any useful system information, they’ve taken it upon themselves to extort users for information that should be free. Don’t fall for these apps. I don’t even know why Apple allows them in the App Store.
Fortunately, BAC Solutions provides a free app showing how much storage space is left on Apple TV. Simply open the App Store and install “TV Storage Info”. The app is small, simple and provides the desired information.
Once you’ve installed the app, simply open it and you’ll see how much storage space is used and free. Keep in mind that this app shows how much “disk” space is used. (It’s really a solid state drive, with no spinning disk, but I digress.) If your Apple TV is almost full, you can still install more apps. tvOS will simply free up space by removing additional assets from apps. I would hope this is done based on app usage. For example, if there is a game with 1.5 GB of additional resources that is rarely used, this data should be deleted. But with the Apple TV team, you never know. After all, they forgot to provide storage usage information in the first place.
This app also provides some insight into the overall size of tvOS. I have a 64GB Apple TV, but it only has 59.6 GB of total storage. This means that 4.4 GB is used by tvOS with perhaps some room for virtual memory (swap space) and buffering video content. This means that if you have a 64GB Apple TV, you can only install about 60GB worth of apps. I was actually surprised that I’m using 38.2 GB of space, but I have installed a lot of games.
Make sure to give this app an excellent rating. I gave it 5 stars, because the developer should be rewarded for providing this information at no cost. The app has actually received a few 1 star ratings. My guess is that competitors selling the $20 system information apps aren’t too happy with this app. Sure, this isn’t the most amazing app, but it provides essential information at no cost.
Apple Needs to Provide Storage Usage Information for Apple TV
Although Apple TV storage usage is a bit more complicated than with iOS, there’s simply no excuse for not providing this information. After all, they’re selling this in 32GB and 64GB versions. With previous Apple TVs, storage space could be more abstract. There was no App Store. Instead, Apple released “channels” in conjunction with content providers.
tvOS should have a visual graph of storage usage on the Manage Storage screen. This graph could show free space, used space and reclaimable space. The latter statistic is important, as most users don’t want to spend 30 minutes to re-install assets every time they open a video game. At the very least, they need to show free, used and total storage space, as they do on iOS.
The absence of these statistics is actually par for the course with Apple TV. When the fourth generation model launched, there were high hopes that the device would be enormously successful. Apple’s inability to put together a channel lineup for their new TV device defeated their hopes for widespread adoption. Not all of this is Apple’s fault. Viacom is playing hard ball with all TV device ecosystems. There really aren’t any comprehensive live TV bundles for these devices.
Apple didn’t even mention tvOS at their World Wide Developers Conference. It’s abundantly clear that Apple doesn’t really care much for the device. Apple TV owners can take solace in the fact that the core of tvOS is stable and derived from iOS. Apple TV doesn’t crash or freeze. But it does have a lot of quirks. The lack of storage usage statistics is just one of many Apple TV foibles. It’s a flawed device, but there is room for improvement. It can be enhanced with tvOS updates. We can only hope that Apple finally takes this device seriously and shapes up the tvOS team.