Apple will remove apps from the App Store that haven’t been updated recently

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Enlarge / Apple’s App Store.

Apple plans to immediately remove games and apps that haven’t been recently updated from the App Store if developers don’t submit an update for approval within 30 days. This news comes from screenshots and claims shared by various app developers and reports from The Verge.

Here is the body of the email this went to the developers:

This app hasn’t been updated for a long time and is scheduled to be retired in 30 days. No action is required to keep the app 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If no update is submitted within 30 days, the app will be withdrawn from sale.

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

It is also unclear whether this is a newly introduced rule or just a particularly large wave of reports. Apple announced its intention to do something similar in 2016, but developers have no way of knowing how often the rule will be enforced. And while that initial announcement seemed more focused on apps that lacked support for new iOS and iPhone or iPad features, some of the developers who received this recent email claim that their apps are perfectly compatible with modern Hardware and the current version of iOS work.

The company has a developer support document titled “App Store Improvements” that provides more details on the move, though it doesn’t answer every developer question. The initiative is moving forward “to make it easier for customers to find great apps that fit their needs,” Apple wrote.

The document clarifies that if developers submit an update after the 30-day window has passed, their app could eventually be listed again. It also states that apps “remain fully functional for current users” and that users can still purchase in-app purchases and access online services within the apps.

Apple isn’t the only one planning to weed out outdated apps to improve users’ search experience. Just a few weeks ago, Google announced similar plans. However, Google was a bit more specific about its policies. In an April 6 blog post, Google’s Krish Vitaldevara wrote:

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

On the iOS side, indie game developers have taken to Twitter and other platforms to criticize Apple’s new efforts to weed out older apps. “Games can exist as finished objects” wrote Emilia Lazer-Walker, whose years of free games are set to be removed. “These free projects do not lend themselves to updates or a live service model, they are finished works of art from years ago.”

Other developers have recommended that the App Store should be more like the console games market, where you can still buy games from 2000, or has indicated that Apple isn’t consistent about where it applies the rule.

Others are still resigned to the subject. They acknowledge that Apple is solving a real user experience challenge, but in a way that creates collateral damage for developers whose games and apps are too small to cause concern within the tech giant.

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


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