Apple removes apps that have not been recently updated

Screenshot of the App Store icon.
Enlarge / Apple’s App Store.

Apple plans to immediately remove games and apps in the App Store that have not been recently updated if developers do not submit an update for approval within 30 days. This news comes from screenshots and claims shared by various app developers and reporting by The Verge.

Here is the text of the email that went out to developers:

This app has not been updated in a significant amount of time and is scheduled to be removed from sale in 30 days. No action is required for the app to remain available to users who have already downloaded the app.

You can keep this app available for new users to discover and download from the App Store by submitting an update for review within 30 days.

If an update is not sent within 30 days, the app will be removed from sale.

It’s not clear if this rule means users have to keep the app installed on their devices to continue accessing it, or if it will be available from the list of previously downloaded apps, even if the app is no longer listed in the store .

It is also unclear whether this is a recently enforced rule or just a particularly large wave of announcements about it. Apple announced its intentions to do something similar in 2016, but developers have no way of knowing how often the rule is enforced. And while the first announcement seemed more focused on apps that lacked support for new iOS and iPhone or iPad features, some of the developers who received this latest email claim their apps work perfectly on modern hardware and the current one. version of iOS.

The company has a developer support document titled “App Store Improvements” that provides further details about the move, although it does not answer all the questions developers have. The initiative is moving forward “to make it easier for customers to find great apps to suit their needs,” Apple wrote.

The document clarifies that if developers submit an update after the 30-day window, their app may eventually be re-listed. It also says that apps “remain fully functional for current users” and that users will still be able to purchase in-app purchases and access in-app online services.

Apple is not the only one with plans to remove what they consider obsolete apps to improve the user’s search experience. Just a few weeks ago, Google announced similar plans. However, Google was a little more specific about its policy. In a blog post on April 6, Google’s Krish Vitaldevara wrote:

As of November 1, 2022, existing apps that do not target an API level within two years of the latest major release of Android will not be available for discovery or installation for new users with devices running Android OS versions , which is higher than the apps target API level.

On the iOS side, indie game developers have taken to Twitter and other platforms to criticize Apple’s new efforts to kill older apps. “Games can exist as finished objects,” wrote Emilia Lazer-Walker, whose year old free games are targeted for removal. “These free projects are not suitable for updates or a live service model, they are finished works of art from years ago.”

Other developers have suggested that the App Store should be more like the market for console games, where you can still buy games from 2000, or have indicated that Apple is not consistent with where it applies the rule.

Others still approach the subject with a sense of resignation. They recognize that Apple solves a real user experience challenge, but does so in a way that causes side damage to developers whose games and apps are too small to pique the concerns of the technology giant.

Some said they plan to update their apps to try to keep them on the list, but others said they will have to let the sun go down on their older passion projects.

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