Apple warns developers that it will removed outdated apps from its App Store

Apr 25, 2022

Apple has sent out emails to app developers, who haven't updated their apps for a long time. The Cupertino-based company has informed them that it will remove outdated apps from the App Store.

Apple warns developers that it will removed outdated apps from its App Store

Apple isn't the only one practicing this, Google has a similar rule in place for apps on its Play Store. The Search giant has given developers a deadline of November 1st, to update their apps to target an Android API level that is less than 2 versions old. Since Android 12 is the latest release, devs will have to set the Android 10 API as the minimum supported version. Android's OS fragmentation however is a different headache.

Indie game developer, Robert Kabwe (Protopop Games), shared a screenshot of an email he received from Apple. The message titled "App Store Improvement Notice" says that developers will have 30 days to update their apps, and submit them for review. If they don't update the app within the given time limit, it will be removed from the App Store. A support page for App Store Improvements, on Apple's website, confirms the existence of the rule, though it remains unclear when it was implemented.

Other app developers have also shared screenshots of a similar email. Some devs claim that there is nothing wrong with their, they work on modern devices, and that updating them on a whim is unnecessary. The Verge points out that this rule seems to be inconsistent, and that some apps and games that haven't been updated in several years, continue to exist on the App Store. For example, Pocket God hasn't received an update since 2015. Apple's own iTunes Movie Trailers app hasn't been updated since 2017. So, the removal of apps from other developers doesn't seem fair, right? You don't see such rules affecting Windows programs, games, or even on gaming consoles.

Why is Apple removing outdated apps from its App Store?

This is purely speculative, but in Apple's defense, outdated apps could result in incompatibility with modern hardware such as a notch in the display, which could hide certain parts or buttons of the app or game, making said app/game unusable. Then there is the possibility of old apps which could contain security vulnerabilities, or result in crashes on newer versions of iOS, etc. There are other aspects that may need to be updated, such as menus in the apps, long-press options, etc, that work with the latest devices.

From a user's perspective, you want everything to work perfectly. Old, broken apps could look bad on Apple's part, users will blame the device, which is something that the company may want to avoid. Apple likely wants developers to use the latest Xcode and iOS SDK for apps and games, to offer the best possible experience for users.
That could be one of the reasons for purging abandonware apps from the Store, I'm not saying that's correct.

App development and support requires a considerable amount of resources. It isn't as simple as clicking a few buttons and saying the job's done. The developers have to analyze the source code, build it using newer engine versions, e.g. Unity. They will then need to test it for compatibility, make changes to the code as necessary, ensure that their app meets the latest standards, before submitting it to Apple for review. The fact that many indie developers may have moved on to other projects, and/or have a daily job, makes it even more difficult for them to update their older work.

Remember when the tech giant ended support for 32-bit apps with the introduction of iOS 11, in 2018? That forced developers to update their apps to target the 64-bit architecture on iPhones, and iPads. This rule resulted in the removal of many old apps and games that could have been preserved.

Do you think Apple should remove apps that haven't been updated for a long time? Which old apps and games do you miss?

Apple warns developers that it will removed outdated apps from its App Store
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Apple warns developers that it will removed outdated apps from its App Store
Apple's email to developers says it will remove apps that have not been updated for a long time, from its App Store.
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  1. Dave said on April 26, 2022 at 10:40 am

    Good thing with Apple is they support their hardware with software updates for a long time,with Android you are at the mercy of the device maker when they decide your phone/tablet is obsolete.I have a perfectly good Huawei tablet stuck on Android 8 because it’s classed as a mid range product and basically abandoned by Huawei.I know there is already apps I can’t see in the Playstore because of my OS,but why should I have to buy another tablet when the one I have is more than capable of running a newer OS that I will never be offered.Short of flashing a new OS my tablet is obsolete.

  2. Yuliya said on April 25, 2022 at 7:58 pm

    Typical appke bullshit. I have an open source hashing application, last update was three years ago, and this application could go on for many many years without the need of any maintenance. Well, I’m on Android, so even if google decides to do such nonsense I could just install it from GitHub – Google’s current policy is that an update or any newly published application needs to target an Andoid version no older than two major iterations. On iOS you’re screwed. Daddy Tim Apple does not allow you to do such things. The fact that there are people defending this is pure insanity.

    1. Janne said on April 25, 2022 at 11:57 pm

      “The fact that there are people defending this is pure insanity.”
      Yes that is right, old doesn’t mean in any way broken. It does the thing, works without issues, no need for removal.

      And then they scream how bad thing it is to “sideload” applications to devices. They are insane.

  3. John G. said on April 25, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    I wonder how they consider an app to be oudated so forth. If no security issues have been warned in this way, then an app should be remain available for long time. For example, Firefox store is plenty of outdated addons and Mozilla doesn’t complain about them. Thanks for the article! :]

  4. Andy Prough said on April 25, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    >”Some devs claim that there is nothing wrong with their, they work on modern devices, and that updating them on a whim is unnecessary.”

    If they haven’t been updated in 5-7 years, it’s more likely that they don’t have an issue tracker and/or are ignoring user complaints. Even small projects like browser extensions need adjustments as the underlying platform evolves. Apps that take advantage of all the constantly changing parts of cell phone hardware and software that don’t update for years at a time are simply abandonware from my view.

    If Apple and Google have not been doing this regularly, then it shows how much rot and corruption has probably accumulated in their app ecosystems.

    1. Anonymous said on April 26, 2022 at 2:26 am

      I have some small game that works without issues before. To update the game to newer version, I need to update the game engine. For some reason they just won’t work so I just left them unattended. The time is just not worth it to update and those app stores prioritizes newer apps than old ones to be shown.

      Browser extensions are not small project, it depends on the project. Are you saying that ublock and noscript are small projects?

      If you have never developed any app, better shut up.

      1. Andy Prough said on April 26, 2022 at 4:08 pm

        Some browser extensions are small projects, some are quite large. My apologies for not posting a 1,000 page doctoral thesis on the current state of browser extensions. I will shut up since I committed the heinous crime of not listing the size of every browser extension project in existence.

        Other than talking about your abandoned game app that won’t update to newer game engines for some reason and telling me to shut up, did you have anything else you’d like to chat about?

  5. Yash said on April 25, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    Apple rightfully removed 32 bit applications in 2018, infact the adoption was already very high for 64 bit by the developers. This still hasn’t been implemented by Android fully yet. This is one area where Apple is always miles ahead which includes performance in Apple devices. Apple shamed Qualcomm back in 2013 by launching 64 bit processors.

    But one huge downside which this article perfectly summarised is – ‘Old, broken apps could look bad on Apple’s part, users will blame the device, which is something that the company may want to avoid.’ It has created a culture where folks are somehow hypnotised where they really think this is the issue. Result of repeating same thing over and over again. More towards perfection instead of change. But due to this it makes tracking easier – PRISM, Pegasus, something which hasn’t been named yet spyware. App requirement – from Apple point of view that may result in more adoption of latest proprietary APIs which makes tracking easier sorry I mean security.

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