If you own an iPhone, you’re probably familiar with that notification reminding you that you’re almost out of iCloud storage. That’s because Apple only offers 5GB of free storage and requires you to sign up for a monthly plan if you want additional space, with the lowest option starting at $1 per month for 50GB.
That’s presumably what Rep. Greg Steube of Florida was referencing when he questioned Kyle Andeer, Apple’s vice president of corporate law and chief compliance officer on Tuesday. Andeer was testifying alongside executives from Google, Facebook, and Amazon at a Congressional subcommittee hearing about large tech platforms and the influence they have on innovation and entrepreneurship.
When questioning Andeer, Steube said he often sees an alert asking him to pay $0.99 for iCloud, adding that the alert doesn’t disappear unless the $0.99 is paid. “I’ve got a very important question for Apple that I believe is on the mind of all Americans,” Steube said.
“Why do you keep getting that alert for the iCloud, for the $0.99 on the iCloud? All the time, constantly, constantly. Until you pay the $0.99 for the iCloud, and then you’re paying the $0.99 for iCloud but you’re not using it,” he said.
Andeer said he was not aware of the details around Steube’s question and that he would get back to him with additional information.
The comments underscore the criticism Apple has faced in recent years over the amount of storage it offers for free compared to rivals like Google.
Those who sign up for a Google account get 15GB of free storage across services including Google Drive, Google Docs, and Gmail. Apple does offer more free storage than Dropbox, however, which only provides users with 2GB of complimentary space. Apple also recently expanded the amount of free storage to 200GB for students, but standard customers are still limited to the 5GB of space Apple has been offering since it unveiled iCloud in 2011.
Apple has not made any public indications that it plans to change that anytime soon. But after it was widely criticized for only offering 16GB of storage in the entry level model of the iPhone, it changed its lowest storage option to 32GB starting with the iPhone 7 in 2016. It then boosted that to a minimum of 64GB of storage with the introduction of the iPhone 8.