A new estimate from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower predicts that nearly 3,000 semi-active apps, if not more, could be pulled from the App Store in the latest sweep designed to remove apps that are no longer updated by their developers.
The news that Apple is doing another cleanup of its App Store was spread this weekend, in the wake of Google’s recent announcement that its Play Store will start blocking old app downloads.
In recent days, many iOS developers have taken to social media to report receiving notifications from Apple that their old apps will be removed from sale within 30 days if no updates are sent.
After Sensor Tower analyzed apps that had at least 10,000 installs in 2022, it turns out that about 2,966 apps and games could be removed during Apple’s last cleanup where they were last updated before or during 2018. But, based on anecdotal reports from developers Some said their apps were recently updated, but they’re still getting a warning from Apple. This indicates that the actual number of affected apps may be higher.
Unfortunately, Apple was not accurate in its communication with developers. It just informed them that if their apps haven’t been updated “for a long time”, they will be removed. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.
Apple has a history of cleaning up its App Store at regular intervals.
These App Store checks are usually designed with the needs of consumers in mind, not necessarily developers. When consumers are looking for apps and games to download, they want to make sure they’re installing something that actually works, is optimized to fit their device’s screen, and keeps up with any recent security improvements. Many apps on the App Store do not meet these requirements after the developers abandon them. These applications can also target deprecated APIs, which can render them non-functional. This is a poor end user experience, and ultimately one that Apple wants to avoid.
But complaints from affected developers indicate that the app’s functionality isn’t always an issue.
Instead, they see your app as a completed project that doesn’t necessarily need constant updating, similar to artwork. They argue that some of the apps and games that were caught during the purge are still usable and running.
According to one of the developers, Simon Barker, his now-deleted Tap Timer app is not receiving any crash reports and is still seeing downloads. He admits that the app doesn’t “set the world on fire”, but it works and distinguishes itself from other timer apps on the market. The app would require re-encoding to satisfy Apple’s request, and Parker admits it hasn’t kept up with Swift. In the meantime, it indicates that another app of it has been downloaded more, but has not received a similar warning. He says this kind of anti-developer policy is why he stopped developing for the App Store.
Another developer, Simen Gjermundsen, echoed the complaint on Twitter, also noting that his children’s game, Motivoto, was still “fully operational” and calling the policy an “unfair barrier to independent developers”.
iOS developer and app store critic Kosta Eleftheriou also suggested that the policy could be enforced unevenly.
He said that a version of his keyboard app designed for visually impaired users was removed from the App Store because it was outdated, but that Pocket God remains online even though it hasn’t been updated for seven years. (It’s unclear if Pocket God would be immune to scrutiny, however – the Twitter account is no longer active and its website has been shut down. It’s possible the developers got a warning as well. We should know in…about 30 days. )
Although the application may be uneven or choppy, it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Apple notifies developers in advance that consistent app updates are part of the agreement with respect to doing business on the App Store. In Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines (section 2.5.1), the company informs developers that apps must use public APIs only and that developers must keep apps “up to date”. More specifically, the guidelines direct developers to “make sure that any outdated features, frameworks, or technologies are phased out that will not be supported in future versions of the operating system.”
Although Apple may not apply this how-to guide for periods of time, it has still done so at a semi-regular rhythm over the years — including on previous larger scans.
Several years ago, for example, Apple disabled support for 32-bit apps and then removed those apps from App Store searches. In 2016, it also targeted outdated apps in a similar cleanup of the App Store. After a massive crackdown on outdated, spam, and cloned apps in 2017, Apple’s App Store has shrunk for the first time. And after banning apps built with app-creation templates and services, Apple came under fire for the potential harm to small businesses and nonprofits that didn’t have the in-house expertise or funds to create custom apps from scratch. Apple later modified this policy as a result of the developer’s reaction – and an inquiry from Congress.
In previous years, Apple told developers exactly when the cleanup would begin, as this cached support page from the 2016 scan indicates. Today, the web page itself exists only to tell developers what to do when they receive an email. Mail – An indication that App Store checks are Now a more routine functionality for the App Store.
If anything, what has changed may not be App Store policy per se, but the fact that developers feel able to talk about aspects of running the App Store they don’t like — especially now that Apple’s complaints to developers may inspire new regulations.
Apple itself has notably fought against several proposed new laws that would force it to allow alternative app stores on iOS as on Mac, saying they risk user privacy and security. But if that requirement is indeed passed, it opens up the possibility for developers to host a sort of “archive” app store that showcases their best work from previous years — but one that Apple has introduced into its own app market. Such a store can extend the life of the developers’ work, even after technologies have advanced and screen sizes have changed.
Source – techcrunch.com