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How To Live With The Minimal Amount Of Space On Your iOS Device

Today’s iPad 2 announcement brought many enhancements, but like many past iDevice announcements there was no increase in storage space. The max is still 64GB and the poor man’s iPad still starts off at 16GB. Fortunately, there are several ways to work around these storage limitations. Here’s how.

Music

Nothing fills up my mobile devices faster than music. Video is more ephemeral, in the sense that you’re not going to re-watch most of it, constantly, on the go, but it’s hard to pick and choose your music collection. If you’re only working with 16GB, however, you may not have a choice.

That doesn’t mean you have to completely give up access to every song you own. Pick the ones you listen to the most and sync those. If you’re not sure which songs those are, iTunes will let you create a smart playlist of the songs you listen to the most. Once you do that, you can simply sync that smart playlist and you’ll always have the top 1,000 (or 500 or 2,000—your choice) songs you listen to on your iDevice.

What about the rest of the music? You have a couple of options. Personally, I like to sync my iTunes with Dropbox for several reasons, but one relevant benefit is that you can stream anything in your iTunes Music folder from your mobile device. You can also download and save songs should you forget to sync or need to listen to something right away. This gives you access to everything in iTunes, so it takes care of videos and podcasts as well.

Alternatively, you can purchased the Stream2Me app ($3.99) for easy music streaming. While we tend to prefer its equally priced competitor AirVideo for video streaming, AirVideo doesn’t do music.

Podcasts and Audiobooks

You can easily stream podcasts with AudioPress. It’s actually a much nicer way of managing your podcasts on your iDevice and doesn’t require syncing. Using it will provide you with your podcasts when you want them and it won’t save a bunch of files that will eat up your storage space.

Audiobooks are something you should probably sync with your device, since they tend to work a bit better that way, but if you want to manage them without syncing you can always use the Audible app. This, of course, doesn’t help you out so much with non-Audible books, but if you’re an Audible user it is very useful. If you want some non-Audible audiobooks, you can grab them from an app called, strangely enough, Audiobooks (more info). This isn’t really going to give you a streaming option, but it gives you untethered access to audiobook content. That, in and of itself, will make it easier to quickly swap out content and better manage your minimal space.

Video

There are a few ways to get at your video without actually syncing it, but our favourite is AirVideo. AirVideo lets you run a little app on the desktop that connects to your iDevice and lets you stream just about any video over Wi-Fi or 3G. This way you can keep all your video content on your Mac or Windows PC and keep it off your iDevice.

The downside of Air Video is that it needs to convert the video for your iDevice in order to stream it. This is usually fine since it does it in real time (and you can queue things up ahead of time, too, if you prefer), but if you want the full media centre experience you can turn to XBMC. Now that XBMC runs on iOS, you can stream all your media to your iDevice without conversion. This, of course, requires that you jailbreak your iDevice but it’s nonetheless a really neat alternative option.

Email, Contacts and Other Data

While this type of data doesn’t take up a whole lot of space, if you’re really trying to keep things to a minimum you can always use webapps as an alternative. Pretty much anything Google-related will work nicely in iOS and you won’t have to save any files. Many other webapps will run well enough, so if you don’t want a bunch of data saved on your iDevice you should just use the browser.

Got any other great tricks for saving space on your iDevice? Let’s hear ‘em in the comments!


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