Last week, Apple angered some developers when it sent out notices saying it would remove old apps from the App Store, those that hadn’t been updated for a while.
While several developers objected to Apple’s seemingly capricious decision, it turns out that it’s not an entirely new policy. Apple has been doing this since at least 2016, although it’s never been entirely clear how often it eliminates the App Store in this way.
However, from what John Gruber of Bold Fireball has been said, Apple does this fairly regularly – at least every few months. It just seems like this time around the company has struck a chord with some developers who feel their apps are being treated unfairly.
Of course, it doesn’t help that Apple can be somewhat opaque about the process. The notice sent to developers last week contained few details, only telling developers that one or more of their apps had “not been updated for a significant time” and, therefore, would be “removed. of sale in 30 days.”
The policy didn’t seem to distinguish between apps that work fine on iOS 15.4 and therefore don’t need to be updated, and apps that do so because they lack functionality or are incompatible with the latest version of iOS. in one way or another.
Indie game developers, in particular, have taken umbrage at Apple’s approach, with many insisting that their games still run great and don’t require an update just to update them.
Apple explains the criteria
Undoubtedly, following the negative rejection, Apple issued a developer update, providing more details on the criteria it uses to eliminate these apps while extending an olive branch to developers by giving them more time to comply.
Specifically, Apple considers an app ready for the chopping block if it meets the following criteria:
- It has not been updated in the last three years.
- It failed to “reach a minimum download threshold”. Apple doesn’t explain exactly what this threshold is, but describes it as “not downloaded at all or very few times in a rolling 12-month period.”
Developers of apps that have not been updated in the past three years and have not reached a minimum download threshold (meaning the app has not been downloaded at all or very few times over a rolling 12 month period) receive an email notifying them that their app has been flagged for possible removal from the App Store.Apple
The first point gives us a better idea of Apple’s sync threshold, but the second explains why some much older apps remain on the App Store.
For example, FlickType Keyboard Developer Kosta Eleftheriouwho has been a vocal opponent of some of Apple’s App Store policies in the past, pointed out last week that pocket god remains on the App Store although it received its last update in 2015.
Apple also removed a version of my FlickType keyboard that was specifically aimed at the visually impaired community because I hadn’t updated it for 2 years.
Now that Apple has shared its criteria, that explanation is considerably more obvious. pocket god is popular. In Eleftheriou’s screenshot, it appears as the number one app in the Entertainment category with over 2,300 ratings.
Apple also shared some pretty staggering numbers, noting that it’s nearly phased out. 2.8 million apps as part of this “App Store Improvements” process over the past six years.
Apple’s raison d’être is to “ensure apps work for the vast majority of users and support our latest security and privacy innovations.” It also helps remove a lot of clutter from the App Store by improving discoverability; You’re more likely to find a useful app to meet your needs when you don’t have to sift through search results that include dozens of older apps that haven’t been properly updated.
For affected developers, Apple is now offering 90 days to submit an update to keep their apps active on the App Store. Although an update must pass through the usual App Store review procedures, Apple requires nothing more specific from developers than simply ensuring that they are working with the latest software kit. iOS 15 software development.
In other words, developers can update their apps to make sure they work with iOS 15 while resubmitting them to the App Store as is.
Even if the developers do not meet this extended deadline, Apple notes that the app will not be removed for users who have already downloaded or purchased it. Also, the app name will remain associated with the developer’s account and therefore cannot be used by anyone else.