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Apple Won’t Really Let You Delete Its Apps in iOS 10

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Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of software engineering, speaks at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, Monday, June 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)Tony Avelar — AP

If you were hoping to finally be rid of Apple’s built-in apps in iOS, you’re (technically) out of luck.

Speaking to John Gruber in his podcast “The Talk Show: Live From WWDC 2016,” Apple (AAPL) senior vice president Craig Federighi confirmed that bundled iOS apps can be hidden from the operating system’s home screen. However, they cannot be deleted in full, meaning they’ll still live behind the scenes within Apple’s latest mobile operating system.

Apple unveiled iOS 10 at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on Monday. The company showcased several new features, including improvements to Messages and Apple Music. News that its apps could be removed from iOS was saved for after the show, when developers started getting their hands on the operating system.

Soon after, developers were publishing images online of iOS 10 allowing users to seemingly “delete” the apps from the operating system. Like third-party apps, Apple’s apps, which include everything from stocks to weather, could apparently be deleted entirely from the operating system, saving valuable storage space and making room for better alternatives.

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Not surprisingly, many, including my Fortune colleague Jeff John Roberts, were overjoyed by the revelation. Roberts, like many others living in Apple world, called the apps “useless.”

Since the launch of iOS, Apple has bundled its own applications with its operating system. However, users haven’t been allowed to actually remove them from the operating system.

For years, users have been calling on the company to allow removal of its own apps, but Apple has heretofore sidestepped those calls. It was a surprising departure, therefore, that Apple seemingly allowed the apps’ removal in the operating system it unveiled on Monday.

But sadly, that was just part of the story. As Federighi notes in his interview with Gruber, Apple will remove the icon from the home screen and remove all user data. It’s impossible for Apple to actually delete the apps entirely without modifying how the iOS structure actually works.

Apple itself is careful not to say that apps are “deleted” from iOS when a user chooses to remove them. Instead, in its own Support page on the topic, Apple says users can simple “remove a built-in app from your Home screen,” which will then “remove any related user data and configuration files.”

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So, what we’re really dealing with is semantics. Apps will be removed from the home screen, but not removed from the device entirely. Still, the removal delivers the same result: The opportunity to stop seeing those pesky apps that Apple has been forcing on users for years.