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The App Store has started removing obsolete apps again

In a letter that Apple sent to some developers, the company warns that it will remove apps from the App Store that “haven’t been updated in a significant amount of time” and gives developers only 30 days to update them.

Apple has begun cracking down on outdated apps that no longer receive updates. In a letter that Apple sent to some developers, the company warns that it will remove apps from the App Store that “haven’t been updated in a significant amount of time” and gives developers only 30 days to update them.

“You can keep this app available for new users to find and download from the App Store by submitting an update for review within 30 days,” Apple wrote. “If an update is not submitted within 30 days, the app will be removed from sale.”

While Apple will remove legacy apps from the App Store, all previously downloaded apps will remain on users’ devices.

Many developers have expressed concern about this change. For example, Protopop Games author Kabwe tweets that Apple is threatening to remove his full-featured Motivoto game because it hasn’t been updated since March 2019.

In addition, Kosta Eleftheriou, developer of the FlickType keyboard for the Apple Watch and noted App Store critic and researcher, noted that Apple removed the visually impaired version of his app because it hadn’t been updated in two years. As Eleftheriou points out in a tweet, the once-super popular Pocket God app is still on the App Store despite having received its last update in 2015. Developer Emilia Lazer-Walker also revealed that Apple has removed “several” of her older games from the App Store. Several other developers shared the same experience, noting that they simply didn’t have time to update their apps.

Back in 2016, Apple announced that it would start removing “abandoned” apps from the App Store. At the time, the company also warned developers that they would have 30 days to update their app before it was removed. However, it’s not clear if Apple has consistently enforced this rule over the years, or if it’s recently started to do more extensive scrutiny. Apple also doesn’t clearly define what it considers “outdated” – whether it’s based on the time that has passed since the app was last updated or compatibility with the most recent version of iOS.

Critics of this policy argue that mobile apps should remain accessible regardless of their age, just as older video games can be played on consoles. Others say the policy is unnecessarily harsh on developers and argue that Apple doesn’t fully respect the work that goes into indie games.

Earlier this month, the Google Play Store similarly announced that it would begin restricting the visibility of apps that “do not target the modern API layer.” Android developers must update their apps by November 1, 2022, but also have the option to apply for a six-month extension if they miss the deadline.

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