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Apple relaxes app memory limits on iOS and iPadOS with the latest betas

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iOS and iPadOS developers will now be able to exceed RAM limits on supported devices, Apple notes in a support document (via MacRumors).

Last month, it emerged that even apps running on the mighty M1-powered iPad Pro 2021 weren’t able to access more than 5GB of RAM. That created quite a ruckus in the tech community, highlighting yet again that the iPad hardware is perhaps limited by software.
Apple has always imposed RAM limits but they have become more pronounced with this year’s iPad Pros. The 1TB and 2TB models boast the highest RAM ever in an iPad – 16GB. 
The 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models have 8GB of RAM. Regardless of the amount of RAM, apps can use no more than 5GB RAM each.

As a point of comparison, the 2020 iPad Pro with 6GB of RAM limited third-party apps to 3GB of RAM usage.

 
So, up until now, the only upsides to having more RAM on the newest iPad Pros were the ability to switch between apps faster and have more apps running in the background.

Apart from that, it didn’t make that big of a difference to the capability of individual apps. Any attempts to exceed the memory limit would have caused an app to crash.

Digital illustration app Procreate, for instance, was only able to increase the layer (stacking image elements on top of each other) counts from 91 on the 2020 iPad Pro to 115 on the M1 iPad Pro. The layer count is the same on the 8GB and 16GB models.

iOS developers may request more memory to boost app performance

Apple will now let developers surpass app memory limits. The company hasn’t disclosed the upper limit, but it will apparently vary depending on the model. Developers will be able to use a function to determine the amount of RAM available.

 
This entitlement was previously available to internal processes.

Some sort of limits will still unsurprisingly be imposed because if apps gobble up an unreasonable amount of memory, it will affect system performance and undermine the overall experience. Apple has requested developers to ensure their apps behave correctly in the event that additional RAM is not available.

 
In any case, most apps don’t need a lot of RAM and the biggest beneficiary of the new rules would probably be media-centric apps.

The new relaxed rules were introduced with the second betas of iOS and iPadOS 15 that were rolled out to developers yesterday. iPhone and iPad users will be able to benefit from the new changes when iOS and iPadOS 15 are officially released this fall.

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