Apple App Store Has Started Pruning Outdated Apps

It seems app stores are cracking down on apps that may have been abandoned, doing so in the name of providing a better experience for users. Google recently announced that it will require apps on its Play Store to adopt the semi-latest versions of Android or risk being booted out. Apple is apparently doing the same for the App Store, but it's casting an even wider net. In addition to removing broken and wayward apps, Apple is warning developers that apps that haven't been updated in a very long time will receive similar treatment regardless of whether they comply with App Store rules and still work as intended.

Apple already has pretty stringent rules when it comes to publishing apps on the App Store and maintaining their validity after every update has been submitted. Now it's making a new one, explaining that an app should be updated regularly or it will be removed from the App Store (via Apple). The company doesn't say why it's adding this requirement, especially for apps that are still in good working condition, aside from ensuring they offer a better user experience. It's possible that Apple may assume an outdated app has bugs that could present problems for users even if there aren't any bug reports. The app or game may also be based on an older version of iOS or macOS that could have unpatched security holes, leaving them vulnerable to attackers even if the app is running on the latest version of the OS.

Developers aren't happy about the news

Unsurprisingly, this has raised concern from quite a number of developers, especially the solo and indie ones. Based on social media posts, many consider this to be an onerous new requirement that offers very little gain, especially for the developer. Emails alerted these app creators that they have to submit an update within 30 days of receiving a notice (via The Verge), which means going through a rigorous approval process that could end with the app or game being removed for completely different reasons.

Apple offers a few concessions, including allowing developers to receive in-app purchases even after their app has been removed from the App Store over the lack of activity. The app will remain installed on devices that already downloaded it before the deadline, and the app name doesn't suddenly become up for grabs just because the product was removed.

This new policy touches on one of the thorniest subjects in the current app industry: should old apps and games that still work completely fine be preserved regardless of developer activity? Many such digital assets, especially popular games like "Infinity Blade," have all but disappeared into history. Thanks to Apple's walled garden, there is no other way to get those games, and they may end up lost forever.