The Apple App Store seems to be largely removing obsolete apps

Apple may crack down on apps that no longer receive updates. IN an email with screenshot sent to affected developers, titled “App Improvement Notice”, Apple warns that they will remove apps from the App Store that have not been “updated in a significant amount of time”, giving 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 an update for review in 30 days,” Apple wrote in the email. “If no update is sent within 30 days, the app will be removed from sale.” While Apple removes the outdated apps from the App Store, all previously downloaded apps remain on users’ devices.

A number of app manufacturers, 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 has not been updated since March 2019.

Meanwhile, Kosta Eleftheriou, the developer of the FlickType Apple Watch keyboard, says Apple removed a version of his app made specifically for the visually impaired because it has not been updated in two years. As Eleftheriou points out in his tweet, the once so super popular Pocket God the app still remains on the App Store, even though it received its last update in 2015. Developer Emilia Lazer-Walker also reported that Apple is removing “a few” of its older games from the App Store. More Other things developers shares the same experience and notes that they just have not had time to update their apps.

On Apple’s App Store enhancements page, the company says, “We’ve implemented an ongoing process of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer work as intended, do not follow current review guidelines, or are outdated.” There is no timestamp on the page, so it is not immediately clear when Apple published or last updated the post. Apple did not immediately respond The edge‘s request for comment.

In 2016, Apple said they 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 removed. That said, it’s unclear whether Apple has continuously enforced this rule over the years, or whether it has recently begun conducting a broader review. Apple also does not clearly outline what they consider to be “outdated” – whether it’s based on the time elapsed since an app was last updated, or whether it’s compatible with the latest version of iOS.

Critics in this policy argues that mobile apps should remain available regardless of their age, just as old video games can still be played on consoles. Others say the policy is unnecessarily harsh on developers, and requirements Apple does not fully respect the work that goes into indie gaming.

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 Android release.” Android developers have until November 1, 2022 to update their apps, but also have the option to apply for a six-month extension if they are unable to meet the deadline. With both major app stores cracking down on older apps, this could cause some developers, especially indie studios, to struggle to keep up.