Apple clarifies conditions for App Store app removal, extends update deadline to 90 days

Posted:
in iOS edited April 30
After a week of confusion and speculation, Apple has attempted to address developers' concerns about the company removing outdated apps from the App Store.

App Award


In mid-April, Apple had notified developers that any app that has not been updated for "a significant amount of time" would be pulled from the App Store. However, developers would be able to circumvent the removal by submitting an update for review within 30 days.

Developers took to social media to speak up against the policy, stating that the changes were unfair to indie developers.

In response, Apple has issued a press release on its developer website. The release explains the situation in more detail.

First, Apple clarifies that a "significant amount of time" means within the last three years. This also seemingly only applies to apps that fail to meet a minimum download threshold in a rolling 12-month period, though the company does not clarify the minimum threshold.

Apple states that it is doing this to provide users with a better App Store experience. By removing old, outdated, or abandoned apps, it hopes to offer better discoverability for apps that are actively maintained.

Additionally, it ensures that apps meet the App Store security and privacy guidelines, which Apple notes are "constantly evolving."

Lastly, the company wants the apps to conform to a certain level of quality. The apps should work across all modern screen sizes, SDKs, APIs, and other features offered in the iOS and macOS ecosystems.

Apple has increased the time needed to update old apps from 30 days to 90 days as a show of good faith to developers. Additionally, Apple notes that if the app has been downloaded by a user, it will not be removed from the users' device.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,143member
    Seems to me that allowing developers to resubmit apps for review as is would probably satisfy the complaints. If it’s not up to scratch, it gets rejected and the dev has to make changes by the deadline or be delisted, but if the app is fine then no problem. And if it’s been abandoned then no one will resubmit it, so it’s gone.
    dewme
  • Reply 2 of 7
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,036member
    Apple put in their App Privacy rules a while back. It's been very clear to me that some developers have resisted updating their apps in order to not have to comply with the rules. This is Apple cracking down on them. Good for Apple. 

    Note to any developers out there: If I'm looking at an app and it doesn't report anything in the App Privacy section, I assume that you are mining my data and I look elsewhere. At this point if you haven't updated your app and started reporting on what you collect and what you track, I assume you are spyware. Get your act together, or get out. 
    lkrupptdknoxscstrrf
  • Reply 3 of 7
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,646member
    It would be nice if they specified the 'minimum threshold,' but it makes sense to me. If an app is old and no one is downloading it then it's becoming 'dead weight' in the App Store that just clutters up search results.

    Like I said before, though, age alone is not an indicator of an apps usefulness, so deleting an app just based on age makes no sense. (should we delete Tim Cook just based on his age?)
  • Reply 4 of 7
    Fidonet127Fidonet127 Posts: 358member
    crowley said:
    Seems to me that allowing developers to resubmit apps for review as is would probably satisfy the complaints. If it’s not up to scratch, it gets rejected and the dev has to make changes by the deadline or be delisted, but if the app is fine then no problem. And if it’s been abandoned then no one will resubmit it, so it’s gone.
    Submitted as is, means no work done and privacy statement is not updated. These apps are flagged because of some problem. People complain about dead apps that don’t work and people complain that Apple is being harsh on developers. Old code can contain security threats and isn’t optimized for current devices. At some point, the devices these apps are optimized for,  are no longer going to be working or people have moved on. Imagine if apps that were optimized for the original iPhones were still in the App Store without any changes. Old apps clutter the App Store and take up space. 
    scstrrf
  • Reply 5 of 7
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,143member
    crowley said:
    Seems to me that allowing developers to resubmit apps for review as is would probably satisfy the complaints. If it’s not up to scratch, it gets rejected and the dev has to make changes by the deadline or be delisted, but if the app is fine then no problem. And if it’s been abandoned then no one will resubmit it, so it’s gone.
    Submitted as is, means no work done and privacy statement is not updated. These apps are flagged because of some problem. People complain about dead apps that don’t work and people complain that Apple is being harsh on developers. Old code can contain security threats and isn’t optimized for current devices. At some point, the devices these apps are optimized for,  are no longer going to be working or people have moved on. Imagine if apps that were optimized for the original iPhones were still in the App Store without any changes. Old apps clutter the App Store and take up space. 
    Yeah?  Any of those problems and it’s not up to scratch and gets rejected, as I said.
  • Reply 6 of 7
    nicholfdnicholfd Posts: 793member
    Sound like no posters took the time to read Apple's actual notice/clarification (linked in the article):

    Clarifying criteria & new timing extension for App Store Improvements process


    Actual clarification:

    As part of the App Store Improvements process, developers of apps that have not been updated within the last three years and fail to meet a minimal download threshold — meaning the app has not been downloaded at all or extremely few times during a rolling 12 month period — receive an email notifying them that their app has been identified for possible removal from the App Store.

    Apple always wants to help developers get and keep quality software on the App Store. That’s why developers can appeal app removals. And developers, including those who recently received a notice, will now be given more time to update their apps if needed — up to 90 days. Apps that are removed will continue to function as normal for users who have already downloaded the app on their device.

  • Reply 7 of 7
    beowulfschmidtbeowulfschmidt Posts: 1,592member
    There are a few very good reasons for such a policy, even if Apple's clarification doesn't mention them.  Primary among these, in my opinion anyway, is dependence upon libraries which have known security problems which could compromise a user's device.  This includes Apple's own libraries, which are regularly updated with security fixes and changes to make apps conform to Apple's policies.  An app using such a library which hasn't been rebuilt with a fixed version remains a risk.

    Of course, such a policy alone isn't a complete solution, as a developer could simply not upgrade to a fixed version of the library.  Nor is there any way to force a user to upgrade an app that continues to work.  But given modern development practices, it's more likely than not that a developer is at least notified of library updates, and importing new versions is relatively simple.  Of course, my experience is with .Net and Java, both of which have robust open source dependency management in place, so maybe it's different for Apple developers.  I'm likely to find out here in the next year or so, as I'm getting sick and bloody tired of apps that claim to do what I want, but won't do it unless I fork over a subscription fee.

    Even my simple home dev setup lets me update dependencies at the push of a virtual button.  I recognize that sometimes updating dependencies that have undergone severe interface or implementation changes can break an app (been there, done that), but a developer who has a profitable app should consider that a cost of doing business.  An unprofitable app is probably better removed anyway.
    scstrrf
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