Apple TV apps limited to 200 MB in size, any additional assets must be downloaded on demand


The new Apple TV comes in 32 GB and 64 GB flavours, but Apple doesn’t want you using all that space up too quickly. Developers have to comply to strict rules about how their apps can use local storage. For starters, the app binaries themselves cannot exceed 200 megabytes of static resources: any resources required over that cap must be available to download on-demand and are only cached for a limited time. This means that games are going to have to really reorganize their code to segment their gigabyte blogs into small level chunks.

In addition, Apple says the Apple TV has no app-accessible persistent local storage. This means that all data must also reside in iCloud, such that if the system decides to delete the app data, it can be redownloaded.

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From the developer reference:

There is no persistent local storage for apps on Apple TV. This means that every app developed for the new Apple TV must be able to store data in iCloud and retrieve it in a way that provides a great customer experience.  Along with the lack of local storage, the maximum size of an Apple TV app is limited to 200MB. Anything beyond this size needs to be packaged and loaded using on-demand resources. Knowing how and when to load new assets while keeping your users engaged is critical to creating a successful app.

The 200 MB limit places a cap on what is possible with the Apple TV for sure. However, a lot of games capable of running on A8 hardware will still be feasible. It will, however, require a lot of work on the developer’s behalf to get the app compatible with the TV. If their game exceeds 200 MB on iPhone or iPad, a lot of refactoring will be needed to make the game fit the Apple TV 200 MB initial app size limit.

Data beyond the 200 MB limit will be cached for an indeterminate period of time, then deleted automatically by the system. This could mean big data cap bills if you switch between a lot of apps — the Apple TV will have to redownload hundreds of megabytes of assets for every app and game used.

For instance, Infinity Blade will need to remodel the way their apps load game content. They can’t ship it all as one big blob of data anymore — it just doesn’t fit the restrictions Apple has set out for its TV hardware. One upside is that this may encourage developers to adopt On-Demand Resources across all its apps — reliving some of the space constraints from iPhones and iPads — as they have to rework it for the Apple TV anyway.


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  1. iSRS - 7 years ago

    “One upside is that this may encourage developers to adopt On-Demand Resources across all its apps — reliving some of the space constraints from iPhones and iPads — as they have to rework it for the Apple TV anyway.”

    That is my thought. For Apple TV apps this makes 100% sense. Maybe even for iPad. But wondering if it is a good thing for iPhones – where cellular data caps could be an issue

    • ag80911 - 7 years ago

      Interesting so what’s the point of these storage of 32 and 64 if they will only be used for caching content.

      • Kristof Verbeeck - 7 years ago

        well, if 8 apps are installed at approximatly 150 mb, thats 1.2 gb, plus the system software (around 2-3 gb) and some additional ODR downloads you get 20 gb really fast
        plus we need memory for things like catched data from streaming apps, and other services
        you will see, people will run out of memory in no time

      • auntietroal - 7 years ago

        As someone who has actually coded a significant amount of iOS 9 on-demand resources in my app, it is pretty clear to me what is going on.
        The on-demand resources will be filling up those extra GBs of space. Even though they are *eligible* to be reclaimed by the OS, it is smart enough to only do that for resources that haven’t been used in a long while.

        So, practically speaking, the apps will end up being much bigger than 200 MB and the extra space will only get reclaimed once you start filling up the device and installing newer apps/resources.

        Not going to be an issue in practice.

  2. Alistair Mitchell - 7 years ago note third party controllers and loops for the RC – wow

    • iSRS - 7 years ago

      I noticed on one of the screen shots of a game “optional controller support” or something like that.

      • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

        I wonder if all ATV games will be required to work with the remote control. Many games simply need multiple buttons and sticks, there’s just no way around it.

  3. It’s like Apple has tried on purpose to cripple this device, not for cost reasons, but to not step on the toes of the console companies. First a 32GB model. More products = more confusion = segmentation. Just offer one version at $150 or $200, not one at each price and certainly not an older POS at $70.

    Old processor and old graphics core… This is the kind of device, with mains-power and no battery nor ventilation concerns, where you want to put your fastest and most hungry mobile processor – the same one in the largest iPad just announced.

    200MB size limit very low for an iOS device. Lack of persistent storage means internet all-the-time or you’re not playing some games (maybe many compelling games).

    I hope a lot of people buy this product despite its limitations, as that’s the only way Apple will be persuaded to make improvements. The sad thing is that from a hardware and software perspective, we could have been enjoying an app-based Apple TV for the past few years instead of the almost-useless hockey-pucks they’re still selling for $70.

    • Michael (@PatientGeek) - 7 years ago

      my guess is the limited processing and storage is all about profit. The ATV still needs to compete with the Roku and Chrome devices, while they are cheaper, they will distract or confuse buyers… there is a huge difference between $40 and $150 and if Apple can’t show how the ATV4 will blow away to older competitors, well, they need to be at least in the same price universe. Sure, they could have a A8x or more storage but there goes the profit margin or its prices way too high to be competitive…

      the storage seems to be dependent on iCloud, if they made that clear I missed it in the presentation. Should not be a problem for ATV4 on home broadband but I agree the bifurcated storage model will complicate iPhone mobile games.

  4. Jeep Paisit - 7 years ago

    Movies have to be streamed from the internet anyway, why not the same for apps?

    • Because you don’t need to download an entire movie first to watch it. You’re going to need to download a significant portion of a game and its assets to start playing – and Apple’s iCloud and app stores don’t exactly saturate even a slow broadband connection.

  5. peteostro - 7 years ago

    makes no sense. For a device that you have sitting there, it should offer 64-128 storage. Why can an iphone app be 2 gigs but an apple tv app cant. Its BACKWARDS

    • Terrence Newton - 7 years ago

      It kinda makes sense because typically people will have a persistent internet connection with their Apple TV, whereas that is not the case with mobile devices. Keeping the app size small frees users from having to manually manage their storage space, and it forces developers to optimize their app sizes. Also, it’s highly likely that once you download the extra assets for a game, they will stay on your Apple TV until you really start to run out of space, and then perhaps data that hasn’t been used in a while will be deleted first. The price is already high at $149 for 64 GB compared to other streaming boxes out there. Having an even higher price for a 128 GB version would turn people off.

  6. Saeid - 7 years ago

    I think this is Apple pushing developers to optimize their code. I mean look at the game “.kkrieger”, it’s ONLY 96KB!!!! Also, as a designer myself, every designer/developer likes to complain, but at the end of the day limitations drive creativity!

  7. Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

    Such a weak effort. As if the feeble GPU and CPU weren’t bad enough, there’s no bundled controller, local storage is microscopic, and now app size hilariously limited.

    Have fun with your free to play gem matching games I guess.

    • iSRS - 7 years ago

      Did you watch the keynote? The remote acts as a controller, iPhones and iPods can be controllers. People buying the Apple TV will already have one of those

      • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

        The remote is not a controller. It has even less functionality than a Wiimote, and that was a joke amongst any vaguely serious gamer.

        Look at what comes with the Xbox One or the PS4. That’s a controller. Buttons and sticks. Non negotiable.

      • iSRS - 7 years ago

        I agree that it is more akin to the Wiimote. But to compare this to an Xbox or PlayStation is wrong. It is not that device

    • Did you really think Apple was going to cater to the 10-15% of people who spend money on gaming consoles on a regular basis? Every company that sells that crap is losing money on it, but for some reason feels compelled to continue–Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, all of them! The hardcore gamer is a laughable myth, the hardcore whiner is more like it! Why try to satisfy a group of people that can’t be satisfied?

      BTW, more people play games everyday on smartphones than all of your precious console-maker’s systems combined and that is who Apple is targeting with this device. You’ll see that they make a lot more money selling to the masses than they ever could selling to the fringe.

  8. Steve32 - 7 years ago

    This is a good upgrade, but I’m still not convinced to upgrade. HDMI 2.0 and 4K support will change my mind. Hope to see it soon in the future.

  9. taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

    My biggest disappointment was no talk of HomeKit intergration. If it included Airport and tight HomeKit would be a revolutionary device worth it’s price tag. Is it worth a ’50 premium over Fore TV?

    • Michael (@PatientGeek) - 7 years ago

      I agree, I was hoping for at least a homekit update. My guess: they will visit it at an October event at which time devs have had time to use homekit with tvOS and maybe also tweak iOS homekit apps using the ATV3 (which has a many million install base that should already be homekit ready).

      • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

        I think it’s the lack of authenticating chips for HomeKit devices. Apple needs to change the MFI program and aid and lesson the cost for companies to make HomeKit and AirPlay devices.

  10. Michael (@PatientGeek) - 7 years ago

    Thanks for the added info Ben. I do not recall Apple pointing out the iCloud dependency. With the base app size limit even with using iCloud, I do not see the benefit for a 64GB ATV4, there might be one but given what you described, it seems the 32GB may be the sweet spot given iCloud re-downloading.

    I started out excited but trending towards suspicious at this point…

  11. Lee Wiggins Ellis - 7 years ago

    I may have missed this but was there any mention about a my computer section?? Can we still stream content from iTunes on a Mac??? (Movies, TV shows etc)

    • iSRS - 7 years ago

      Good point. I didn’t see that mentioned. Would be a deal breaker if not.

    • iSRS - 7 years ago

      Enjoy it on the big screen. And the best speakers.
      With AirPlay, you can wirelessly stream content on your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Mac to your HDTV. Peer-to-peer AirPlay makes it easy for guests to share content from their Mac or iOS device directly to your TV — without learning your Wi-Fi password or having to connect to your home network. And with AirPlay Mirroring, you can display the screen of your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Mac on your HDTV. So when you tap, swipe, pinch, or play something, it shows up big time.

  12. calisurfboy - 7 years ago

    Data in iCloud? Does this count towards the 5 gig limit we all have? Can I access any app or does it have to be marked as Apple TV i.e. I have Xcom for iPad can I play that on TV?

    • auntietroal - 7 years ago

      > Data in iCloud? Does this count towards the 5 gig limit we all have?
      No, it just means that parts of the app bigger than 200 MB will download from iCloud/iTunes as you need them

      > Can I access any app or does it have to be marked as Apple TV i.e. I have Xcom for iPad can I play that on TV?
      Apps will need to be re-submitted and tweaked to run on TV, especially to use the new controller. But it’s up to each developer to decide to do so.

    • SKR Imaging - 7 years ago

      to play ipad games on the apple tv, just mirror the ipad to the Apple TV.. of course you don’T get the remot as a control input but a MFI controller would work great… ipad would essentially become the console.

  13. Henry Johansen - 7 years ago

    Looks like they’re holding out on us so they can keep announcing new stuff.. A size limit is not the worst idea but for full hd graphics somwhere between 500-1000 MB would make more sense.
    And what’s up with gaming here? The apple page clearly promotes the third party controllers, but if we know their developer rules, the apps would have to be usefull without it.
    So they present a version now without a controller so that people see it as a tv device and then next year they upgrade it for gamers with a bettter processor, more capacity and a true Apple gamepad. Isn’t the gamepad actually the last type of accessory they’re not making in house yet?

    • SKR Imaging - 7 years ago

      You might be correct in assuming that.. many stylus companies made pens for iPad and now Apple makes Apple Pencil.. all the controller companies will soon have to compete with Apple Gamepad… and I have a feeling Apple will update this new apple TV each 2 years.. so I might just wait till I can install full games on the device instead of relying on the internet dependancy.

  14. bigdavod - 7 years ago

    I’m guessing they want to keep the storage space as free as possible so that they can push down content, such as TV shows in the future, once they’ve hammered out their deals with the film studios

  15. So much for this being a serious gaming platform then. No big name devs are going to build their AAA titles having to host data like that for AppleTV only.

    Granted this was pretty much already a given already since their is only 32 GB for the base model and AAA games these days can be in the 10s of GB range but I was hopeful until this announcement. Maybe we can get there with AppleTV 5.

    • Jassi Sikand - 7 years ago

      This was never a serious gaming platform. This is a family device akin to the Wii. Notice how PS4 and Xbox One aren’t family devices.

  16. wvb22 - 7 years ago

    Even worse, Siri isn’t enabled on most international Apple TV’s. And won’t be in a future update as Apple will bundle a different remote in Siri enabled countries and Siri disable countries. Truly disappointing.


    • Jassi Sikand - 7 years ago

      They’ll probably sell Siri enabled remotes in countries where Siri is available once it’s available.

  17. They make a device capable of gaming and limit it to 200 megeabytes? At least we can still play Flappy Bird! In reality, this is a bad decision.


Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.