(Photo: James Yarema/Unsplash)Apple is beginning a spring clean of its App Store, but its strategy isn’t for everyone. In an email to app developers sent last week, Apple announced it would be de-listing apps that haven’t been “updated in a significant amount of time.”
Developers have a limited amount of time to prevent their apps from being removed from the App Store. The email, posted to Twitter by an indie dev known as Protopop Games and spotted by The Verge, says devs can “keep [their apps] available for new users to discover and download from the App Store by submitting an update for review in 30 days.” Apps created by devs who fail to submit updates for their apps within that 30-day window will be removed from the App Store once time is up.
“This is an unfair barrier to indie devs,” Protopop tweeted. Others echoed Protopop’s sentiment, pointing out popular iPhone app Pocket God has remained available for download since its last update seven years ago. Apple has reportedly removed apps for not being updated in shorter spans of time, including accessibility apps like developer Kosta Eleftheriou’s FlickType Keyboard, which Eleftheriou says was intended for the visually impaired. (Eleftheriou is currently suing Apple for the app’s removal and other alleged abuses, having carved a niche for himself as a self-described “App Store critic.”)
“Games can exist as completed objects!” another developer tweeted. “These free projects aren’t suitable for updates or a live service model, they’re finished artworks from years ago.”
Apple’s email says iOS users who have already downloaded the older apps will continue to be able to access them. But this means devs are stuck with a set number of users if they can’t come up with an update to push.
It’s also worth mentioning that Apple said it would begin de-listing old, “abandoned” apps back in 2017, beginning with apps that crashed upon launch. According to a Reddit post from 2020, this never actually happened (or Apple did such a bad job with its clean-up that it appeared as though the company never followed through). Of course, we have no way of knowing whether that will happen again until we do or don’t begin seeing apps drop off the App Store.