Trending: Apple Removing Outdated Apps From the App Store
Following reports that Apple had threatened to remove a number of its apps from the App Store, Apple has acknowledged and reiterated its policy on removing any obsolete programs from the store. The regulation has been in effect since 2016, and it applies to apps that have not been updated in the last three years.
Several app developers, including Protopop Games, Kosta Eleftheriou, Emilia Lazer-Walker, and others, reported on Twitter that they received an email from Apple warning that some of their iOS apps would be removed since they hadn't been updated in a long time. Apple also stated that the only way to retain those apps on the App Store was to submit an update within 30 days.
According to Ariel Michaeli of AppFigures, this restriction might affect up to 750,000 live apps out of the slightly more than 2 million currently available. This procedure will take time, according to Michaeli, but Apple has already weeded out hundreds of thousands of programs over the years. Apple, for example, made 64-bit support required a few years ago, resulting in the loss of many abandoned apps that were not rebuilt with a contemporary compiler.
Affected app developers, on the other hand, expressed their displeasure with Apple's policy, claiming that it was particularly harsh on indie developers, particularly game developers. Lazer-Walker put it this way:
“It isn't viable for me to spend multiple days updating each of a few free small games I built in 2014.”
In a similar vein, Robert Kabwe of Protopop Games described how difficult it can be for a developer to keep up with the rapid rate of change in mobile game production, especially after their day job.
Apple clarified the situation in a blog post, stating that apps that haven't been updated in three years and don't satisfy a certain download threshold are candidates for removal. The business defends its policy, which it claims was introduced in 2016 under the name App Store Improvements and aims to improve discoverability, security and privacy, as well as user experience with apps downloaded from the App Store.
While Apple's clarification is helpful in defining the parameters of the debate, it fails to address the core of a number of criticisms of the policy. This regulation appears to be overly restrictive for games, which can be deemed a complete work of art at some point in their evolution, similar to a film, and not allowed for further development. This should eliminate the potential of them being played.
While it's true that Pixar doesn't have to re-render Toy Story every couple of years, as Daring Fireball's John Gruber put it, it's not the end of the story. Indeed, as Matt Deatherage adds, "the VHS tape of Toy Story you bought in 1996 does not work on your Apple TV box attached to your 8K TV." Deatherage adds another argument in favor of culling outdated apps, attempting to lessen the platform's technical debt produced by apps that use ancient APIs. Those APIs are only needed to preserve backward compatibility for apps that aren't updated on a regular basis.
Apple's message does, however, provide two key points that may be useful to developers who get Apple's warning emails. For starters, they will be allowed up to 90 days to update their apps. Above all, Apple claims that developers who believe their apps should not be affected by the regulation can appeal the decision and have their case reassessed.
Finally, it's worth noting that Apple's approach is comparable to Google's newly announced policy, which aims to improve user security by removing apps that target API levels older than two years.
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