Apple may be breaking down on apps that no longer accept updates. In a screenshotted email sent to concerned developers, titled “App Improvement Notice.”
Apple cautions it will terminate apps from the App Store that haven’t been “updated in a noteworthy amount of time” and provides innovators just 30 days to revise 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 reports in the email. “If no update is submitted in 30 days, the app will be removed from sale.” While Apple will terminate the outdated apps from the App Store, any hitherto downloaded apps will stay on users’ devices.
Like Protopop Games developer Robert Kabwe, several app makers have communicated their concerns about the change. Kabwe states on Twitter that Apple is threatening to remove his fully-functional game, Motivoto, because it hasn’t been updated since March 2019.
Meanwhile, Kosta Eleftheriou, the FlickType Apple Watch keyboard developer, says Apple took down an understanding of his app specifically for the visually impaired because it hasn’t been updated in two years.
However, as Eleftheriou points out in his tweet, the once-super-popular Pocket God app remains on the App Store even though it acquired its last update in 2015.
Developer Emilia Lazer-Walker also noted that Apple is removing “a few” of her ancienter games from the App Store. Several other creators share the same experience, noting that they just haven’t had the moment to update their apps.
On Apple’s App Store Improvements page, the company says: “We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated.” Unfortunately, there isn’t a time stamp on the page, so it’s not immediately obvious when Apple published or last updated the post.
In 2016, Apple said it would commence removing abandoned apps from the App Store. It also cautioned developers to have 30 days to update their app before it got brought down. That said, it’s indefinite whether Apple has continuously been implementing this rule over the years or if it recently started driving a more comprehensive sweep.
Apple also doesn’t sketch what it considers to be “outdated” — whether it’s established on the period that has elapsed since an app was last modernized or if it affects compatibility with the most contemporary version of iOS.
Critics of this policy reason that mobile apps should remain unrestricted no matter their age, much like old video games stay playable on consoles. Others state the policy is unnecessarily tough on developers and reason Apple doesn’t fully appreciate the work into indie games.
Earlier this month, the Google Play Store similarly announced it would begin limiting the visibility of apps that “don’t target an API level within two years of the latest major Android release version.”
Android developers have until November 1st, 2022, to update their apps and have the alternative of devoting for a six-month extension if they can’t push the deadline. However, with both significant app stores cracking down on older apps, some developers, especially indie studios, could struggle to keep up.