Apps using up all your phone storage could soon be over with new software

7 Feb 2020

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Researchers have developed new streaming software that could help those who are constantly deleting apps from their phone because of storage issues.

People with phones of a certain vintage – or just phones with limited internal storage – often have to face the challenge of choosing which apps they want to keep and which ones to delete. In many cases, much of the phone’s storage can be taken up by its operating system, and while apps can be stored in the cloud, they still need to be downloaded, reinstalled and shuffled to fit.

However, researchers from Purdue University have developed new software called AppStreamer that aims to ‘stream’ apps on to a phone similar to how video is streamed to a device.

Led by Saurabh Bagchi, the researchers found that AppStreamer cut down on storage requirements by at least 85pc for popular gaming apps on Android. The software shuffles data between an app and a cloud server without stalling the game.

Those who took part in a study to test the app apparently didn’t notice any differences in their gaming experience.

Not just phones

AppStreamer is a type of software known as middleware, located between the apps on a device and the operating system. It predicts when to fetch data from a cloud server, and AppStreamer was evaluated for which bandwidths the app would use and how much energy it would consume.

While it could work on a 4G-enabled device, the researchers said that using AppStreamer on a 5G network would mean that an app downloads instantly, runs faster and takes up minimal space on a phone. The software was also designed with edge computing in mind, whereby servers located in spots such as cellular towers could reduce data download times because of their shorter distance to the device.

Looking to the future, Bagchi believes that AppStreamer could be used for more than just phones, with applications in autonomous vehicles connected to 5G networks.

The researchers will present their findings at the 17th International Conference on Embedded Wireless Systems and Networks in Lyon, France, later this month.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic