App Store removal claims cause uproar among developers

25 Apr 2022

Image: © Nicole Lienemann/Stock.adobe.com

Developers have shared an email from Apple saying that apps will not be available for new downloads in 30 days if they’re not updated.

Apple appears to be making a push to remove apps from the App Store that have not been updated in years, according to an email screenshot shared by affected developers.

Titled App Store Improvement Notice, the message suggests that apps that have not been updated for “a significant amount of time” will be removed from the App Store unless a new update is made. The email added that users who have already downloaded an app will still be able to access it.

Future Human

“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,” the email said. “If no update is submitted in 30 days, the app will be removed from sale.”

As first reported by The Verge, multiple app developers have shared their concerns about the changes on Twitter. Protopop Games designer Robert Kabwe tweeted that he was sent the email by Apple because his game, Motivoto, hasn’t been updated since March 2019.

Other app developers complained that only certain apps are being targeted for a lack of updates. Kosta Eleftheriou, the developer of the FlickType keyboard app who has accused Apple of abusing its power with the App Store in the past, said on Twitter that the Pocket God app is still on the App Store even though it hasn’t been updated since 2015.

There are many theories why Apple would make the decision to remove apps that have not been updated in recent years. Nick Lockwood, an iOS developer, said Apple could be making specific apps update because their old advertisement frameworks violate new privacy rules.

However, Lockwood added that he was told by several developers that their removed apps did not use any kind of tracking that would violate privacy rules.

On Apple’s App Store Improvements page, the company said: “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of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated.”

However, this page is not timestamped, so it is not clear when Apple last updated the notice. The tech giant first said that it would start removing outdated apps in 2016.

Apple isn’t the only company looking at outdated apps. Earlier this month, Google shared plans to limit the visibility of outdated apps on its Play Store from the start of November this year, The Verge reported.

Responding to the latest Apple news, Valve software developer Fletcher Dunn tweeted that Microsoft has a “Hippocratic approach” when dealing with older apps. He added that the company “does an absolutely heroic job of backwards compatibility”, which has been seen with Xbox games.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com