Apple and Google are removing unused apps from their app markets

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Apps already downloaded to an iPhone or Android will stay on the phone. However, should the app be “neglected,” on the app store, Apple and Google can remove it and prevent further downloads. This policy represents a retreat from an earlier rule that Apple had revealed through emails to developers this spring: Two years without an update would make an app subject to removal, with only 30 days to ship an update.

Apps for smartphones and tablets Apple and Google are restricting the availability of programmes that have been out of current for an extended period of time, but the two giants aren’t being equally tough. For the time being, each enables a workaround. Apple declared on April 29 that if an app hasn’t been updated after three years and hasn’t been downloaded at all or only a few times in a rolling 12-month period, it would be considered ignored. If the software meets both conditions, the developer will be notified that the app may be removed from the App Store — which, given the App Store is the only realistic option to distribute an iPhone or iPad app, is a death sentence. Developers have up to 90 days to release a new version.


  • Apple declined to comment on the record but confirmed that outside of titles removed for being malware, an app no longer available in the App Store will transfer to new devices via the backup-and-restore process. “It doesn’t make sense to keep apps on the App Store that crash on launch, or that have been entirely abandoned,” emailed Adam Engst, publisher of the long-running Apple newsletter Tidbits. But outside of that, he wondered whether this rule helps users much – people can decide for themselves whether old but functioning apps offer value or not.

  • What happens when an app is removed from the store? In either case, users with the app already installed should be safe. “Your app will remain fully functional for current users,” Apple’s policy reads – including support for in-app purchases. And backing up an old iPhone or iPad device and then restoring that backup to a new phone or tablet should move the app over. “This is another reminder that Apple controls all distribution of iOS apps, which means that these rules, and any others, can leave developers and users without choice,” emailed Brent Simmons, developer of NetNewsWire and other apps.

Engst’s suggestion: “It would seem better to hide the app on the App Store to prevent new downloads while still keeping it available for existing users who are upgrading or transitioning in such a way that they can’t copy from their old device.”


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