Apple Is Culling Apps From the App Store That Haven’t Been Updated in Two Years

Emma Roth, writing for The Verge:

Apple may be cracking down on apps that no longer receive updates. In a screenshotted email sent to affected developers, titled “App Improvement Notice,” Apple warns it will remove apps from the App Store that haven’t been “updated in a significant amount of time” and gives developers just 30 days to update them.

“You can keep this app available for new users to discover and download from the App Store by submitting an update for review in 30 days,” Apple writes in the email. “If no update is submitted in 30 days, the app will be removed from sale.” While Apple will remove the outdated apps from the App Store, any previously downloaded apps will remain on users’ devices.

This seems logical on the surface — culling apps that haven’t been updated in a while sounds like a good way to keep everything in the App Store fresh, for lack of a better word. And there have been various technical transitions over the years where something like this has been necessary (for some definition of “necessary”) like the 32-bit to 64-bit transition.

But in practice, there are a lot of apps that haven’t been updated in a while that continue to run just fine. It’s often not just a matter of opening a project file in Xcode and recompiling to get a new build. Sometimes you open an older project and it takes a lot of work to get it to recompile against the current SDKs.

I get the feeling this has a particularly heavy cost for indie game makers — and, ultimately, the players and would-be players of their games. We can watch really old movies today — movies that aren’t just years or decades old, but generations old. We can read works of literature that are centuries old. But we can’t play iPhone games that are three years old unless the developers constantly devote time and attention to making sure they keep up with latest SDKs every 2-3 years? Pixar doesn’t have to re-render Toy Story every couple of years.

It’s a hard problem and I can see the upsides of Apple automating the clearing of truly abandoned apps from the App Store, but it seems like there ought to be a way for developers of not-updated-for-a-while apps and games to just log into Apple’s developer portal and hit a button to vouch that they still work and don’t need an update. Apple could then only cull the apps from developers who didn’t respond.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022