Why iOS 5 Apps Sometimes Say They Are “Cleaning” Themselves

Why iOS 5 Apps Sometimes Say They Are “Cleaning” Themselves

With iOS 5, iPhone and iPad users started noticing a new curious behavior: app icons that suddenly started “Cleaning…” themselves. Facebook does it. Instapaper does it. Even Twitter does it. But what the heck does it mean?

I’d long wondered about that myself, but as it turns out, it has to do with iOS 5 deleting cache and temporary files to make the backup as small as possible… perfect for shooting up to the iCloud or to your Mac through iTunes WiFI sync.

TiPB has the details, which I really enjoyed:

Since adding iCloud and Wi-Fi sync options, it’s become important to keep app data as clean as possible, so backups are as efficient as possible, so we’re not left waiting around for minutes or hours getting as frustrated as possible.

And yes, this is the same reason that, under the original iOS 5.0, apps like Instapaper would sometimes lose all your locally cached articles. (Since fixed with the addition of a third storage option between documents and cache, one that’s not cleaned but also not backed up.)

There you have it! It’s nothing to worry about, it’s all part of iOS 5 purging itself of toxins from time to time.

  • MacHead84

    Interesting, Id never noticed that.

  • Blake Beavers

    WAT… I’ve never seen this.

  • gettysburg11s

    I’ve never seen this either.  Oh well.  Maybe my iPhone 4 does it when I am sleeping, like little elves crawling all over my phone…

  • LJ26

    Nice article. Always wondered this myself when I saw Facebook doing it. Haven’t seen the other two apps mentioned do it yet though.

  • volodoscope

    It’s probably happening when people sleep.

  • Frank Leijdekkers

    Never seen it either

  • see boo

    ive seen it when my apps we’re updating… hmm

  • Hsn11

    I’ve seen it on fb and twitter

  • skyrimz

    This
    article is very useful. I have used my Mac for years and did not notice my disk
    is consuming by the useless files. This article helped me much. I also found
    another free cleanup software MacCleaning. It is free and effective.

  • QJeremiah

    I’ve been using iOS units (iPhones, iPads, iPods) for years and saw this for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It’s a rare thing. That’s why so many of you says you have never seen it.

    Seen it ONCE in years, and I’m the type of guy who has the iPhone Battery drained before lunch…
    Guess it takes to watch the homescreen too, and mostly on the iOS unit one is in an App somewhere… 
  • thechode

    Does this only happen when iCloud is turned on

  • thechode

    It’s because when you use iCloud it cleans the cache and temporary files to keep data organized

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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