How many apps is too many?

How many apps is too many… for an android headunit?


The play store from google has over 3.48 million apps available to download, some paid, other free, not all suitable or compatible with your android headunit. You don’t want hundreds of apps but you do need some…

Why not?

You picked an android headunit because it was based on android and android means apps. Of course you want apps and why not? Apps is the top reason to buy an android headunit.


Your android headunit has two types of memory that it uses to run android.

One memory is called the ‘RAM’ and it typically either 1Gb (one Gigabyte), 2Gb 4Gb, 6Gb or exceptionally 8Gb. This RAM is used to run the actual android itself and the app you tap to run, say, google maps. This RAM is relatively quick to operate and is ideal for running apps. Files in RAM will only stay present while the headunit has power. A reboot, restart or power off will empty the RAM (and stop the apps running).

The other memory is called ‘ROM’ while name is misleading, it has stuck. The place your apps are stored after downloading them form the play store is the ‘ROM’. The manufacturer will pre-install apps and these will also be in the ROM. Typically ROM sizes are 32Gb (thirty two Gigabytes), 64Gb or even 128Gb. ROM is much slower to move data around but will keep the data safe even if the power is disconnected. This is why you don’t need to download all your apps again after the headunit was disconnected from the car.

Too much of a good thing

App you download will sit in the ROM, each download can be a 100Mb to 1Gb (100 megabytes or 1 Gigabyte) or so. In theory the maximum number of 1Gb apps you can download to your 32Gb ROM is 32, for a 64Gb ROM this is 64 apps. If your apps are small, say 100Mb then you can fit ten times that many apps on the ROM storage. You wouldn’t want to fill up the ROM with apps because this gives no space for the installing of new apps before you delete the old one, particularly for updating apps. Filling the ROM storage (often called Drive 0) to a maximum of 85% of its total capacity is a good limit. This self imposed limit will allow for app updates, new google maps and you won’t keep bumping up against a ‘Storage full error’ when changes are made to the files in ROM.

Not all of the advertised RAM and ROM is for your consumption. The Android OS itself needs some space to work and the manufacturer is bound to have added some ‘bloat ware’ in the form of storage sapping apps.

What about the RAM?

The RAM is where the apps run. When the app icon is tapped the file is copied from the ROM where it is stored and put into the RAM to run. Your RAM is much more limited on storage space, but you would run only a few apps at any one time. The 1Gb junk headunits have about 768Mb free RAM and are not cut out for even running a large single modern app fully in RAM. Whereas a 4Gb android headunit has around 1656Mb free RAM, even with various apps running. This gives the android operating system more space to manage the app and allow it to run fully in RAM at the fastest speed. Running several apps together like spotify, google maps and a launcher can all run in RAM when there is lots of RAM free.

Too much app!

You can install lots of apps onto your android headunit, be aware of the storage limit (16Gb/32Gb/64Gb128Gb) and avoid reaching that limit. A free app ‘Google Files‘ can help you manage that.

You are not able to run lots of apps at full speed at the same time if your android headunit has a low amount of available RAM. A free app for checking current RAM called ‘RAM monitor‘ is available. But this app will also run in the RAM and eat into the precious resource of RAM.

Magic number

There is no magic number to the maximum number of apps you can or should install on your android headunit. Apps come in a wide range of sizes but checking the ROM/Drive 0 storage level using free apps can help you manage your particular ‘how many is too many apps’ question.

Android HeadUnit
Android HeadUnit
An android headunit enthusiast with years of experience with in car entertainment installation and design. Encouraging everyone who wants a change to try a different car launcher :)

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