The Apple App Store appears to be largely removing outdated apps

Apple may be cracking down on apps that no longer receive updates. Inside an email with a screenshot sent to affected developers, titled “App Improvement Notice”, Apple advises that it will remove apps from the App Store that have not been “updated in a significant period of time” and gives developers only 30 days to update them.

“You can keep this app available for new users to discover and download from the App Store by submitting a 30-day review update,” Apple writes in the email. “If no updates are sent within 30 days, the app will be removed from sale.” Although Apple removes outdated apps from the App Store, all previously downloaded apps will remain on users’ devices.

Several app makers, such as Protopop Games developer Robert Kabwe, have expressed their concerns about the change. Kabwe says on twitter that Apple is threatening to remove its fully functional game, Motivoto, because it hasn’t been updated since March 2019.

Meanwhile, Kosta Eleftheriou, developer of the FlickType Apple Watch keyboard, says Apple took down a version of its app made specifically for the visually impaired because it hasn’t been updated in two years. As Eleftheriou points out in her tweet, the once super popular pocket god app still remains on the App Store even having received its last update in 2015. Developer Emilia Lazer-Walker also reported that Apple is removing “some” of its older games from the App Store. Several other developers share the same experience, noting that they just didn’t have time to update their apps.

On Apple’s App Store Improvements page, the company says, “We are implementing an ongoing app review process, removing apps that no longer function as intended, do not follow current review guidelines, or are out of date.” There’s no timestamp on the page, so it’s unclear when Apple last published or updated the post. Apple did not immediately respond On the edgeof the comment request.

In 2016, Apple said it would start removing abandoned apps from the App Store. At the time, it also warned developers that they would have 30 days to update their app before it was taken down. That said, it’s unclear whether Apple has been continuously enforcing this rule over the years, or if it has recently begun to carry out a broader sweep. Apple also doesn’t clearly describe what it considers “out-of-date” – whether it’s based on the time elapsed since an app was last updated or whether it concerns compatibility with the latest iOS version.

critics of this policy argue that mobile apps must remain available regardless of age, just as old video games remain playable on consoles. others say the policy is unnecessarily harsh on developers, and claim Apple doesn’t fully respect the work of indie games.

Earlier this month, the Google Play Store similarly announced that it would begin limiting the visibility of apps that “do not target an API level within two years of the latest major version of Android.” Android developers have until November 1, 2022 to update their apps, but they also have the option to request a six-month extension if they can’t meet the deadline. With the two major app stores cracking down on older apps, this could leave some developers, especially independent studios, struggling to keep up.

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