That’s not a photo of a hot dog eating dude; it’s the flickr iPhone app (and it’s friends) stuffing itself for no reason on your file storage space.

Of course, it’s not really file storage space, since in iOS you are forever told by your Apple Nanny that there is no file system. The file system does not exist. You have no need to see the files on your device. What files? There are no files?

Well, except there are.

I went cheap in 2012 and got the skinny 16 Gb model. I keep no music on my iPhone, and I offload all but maybe 40 photos. And for the last year, I have been riding the skinny edge of space, often seeing the warning


I got one of these last night, so I deleted a few photos, I went into 2 audio apps, and deleted stored recordings. I jettisoned a few apps. Still, it was telling me I had only 300 Mb left.

I went into the Settings to manage storage, and I noticed (damn I forgot the screenshot), that the flickr app, with a stated size of 99.5 Mb was taking up 600Mb.

What is in that 600Mb?

The device does not reveal, nor does it offer anyway to clear any of the stuffed hotdogs. The memory hogging has been reported in flickr back to at least 2013. The suggestion to try the PhoneClean app did nothing to winnow my fat flickr app.

I deleted and reinstalled the flickr app. Junking a 600Mb app for one that needs only 99Mb should have netted my 500Mb, right math fans? Nope, iOS only reported a free space now of 500Mb, a gain of only 200.

iOS storage after deleting the flickr app that was taking up 600 Mb,

iOS storage after deleting the flickr app that was taking up 600 Mb

I tossed two smaller apps (45Mb each). Then I opened the 8mm app (a video tool) that was supposedly using 300Mb. I found inside it had 4 video clips, which I deleted in the app, but then I said, hey, what if I just delete this 300Mb app too?

Imagine my surprise when deleting a 300Mb app, somehow opened up 6Gb of space. WTF?


Either the entire accounting system of storage in iOS is a random number generator or… I cannot even make up another scenario. Or apps can run amuck with storage. As a user of your own iOS device you are never allowed to see its files, it could be doing anything inside the drive space.

And for apps like flickr (and also Digg reader, which a few months ago I found had swelled to over 1 Gb), it is inexcusable that they do not clean up after themselves or offer a clear cache option. The only way to clear out a bloated app is to kill it and re-install? Brilliant design, Cupertino, brilliant.

Now I am sure by this point a crowd of smug Android users will be itching to remind me how superior their device is. And actually in providing users a clear view of the filesystem, in that regard, it is.

But that’s not missing the point.

In an app-oriented future of the web as well warned today by Ben Werdmüler, we are at the whims of the keymasters like iOS and apps that we cannot inspect. Giving up the open web’s concept of view source is giving up a whole lot more than just some geek pleasure at seeing code.

And that may give you more indigestion than 17 hot dogs can provide.

Top / Featured image credits: flickr photo by Hello Turkey Toe shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Writing directly to source of mortal angst! Or at least universal irritation. You prompted me to make a run through my storage and do a morning delete of extraneous apps.
    That can only be a good thing, imho!

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