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semi-active apps, if not more, could be pulled from the App Store in the latest sweep designed to remove apps that are no longer being updated by their developers.
Apple, unfortunately, has not been precise in its communication with developers. It only informed them that if their apps had not been updated for a “significant amount of time,” they would be removed. Apple did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.
Apple has a history of cleaning up its App Store at regular intervals.
Typically, these App Store sweeps are designed with the needs of consumers in mind, not necessarily developers. When consumers seek out apps and games to download, they want to be sure they’re installing something that actually functions, that’s been optimized to fit their device’s screen and that’s up-to-date with any recent security enhancements. Many apps on the App Store don’t meet these requirements after developers abandon them. Those apps may also be targeting deprecated APIs, which could make them non-functional. That’s a poor end-user experience, and ultimately one Apple wants to avoid.
But the complaints from the impacted developers indicate that an app’s functionality is not always an issue.
Correction – my last update for Motivoto was March 2019, so more than three years ago, not two.
My concerns are the same though – that a fully functioning indie app can be removed from the store with relatively little warning, and for no solid reason.
I had a fully functional and original game for kids being removed from sale for this reason just a few hours ago. I have simply not had the time the last month to update it and publish a new version. Stupid decisions.
While Apple may not enforce that guideline for stretches of time, it still has done so at a semi-regular cadence over the years — including with larger past “sweeps.”
If anything, what’s changed may not be the App Store policy itself, but rather the fact that developers feel empowered to speak out about the aspects of the App Store operation they don’t like — particularly now that Apple’s inattentiveness to developer complaints may inspire new regulations.