Apple is removing up-to-date applications from the App Store

Following Apple’s threats to remove a number of its applications from the App Store, Apple has acknowledged and revised its policy on removing malicious programs from the App Store. Since 2016, the process has been in effect, and only applications have not been updated in the last three years. Several app developers, including Protopop Games, Kosta Eleftheriou, Emilia Lazer-Walker, and others, reported on Twitter that they had received an email from Apple warning that some of their apps would be removed because they had not been updated regularly perfect. Apple also explained that the only way to keep those apps on the App Store was to submit an update within 30 days.

News of a new policy that seemed to come from Apple quickly made the rounds on the website and sparked interest in the conversation. According to AppFigures’ Ariel Michaeli, this policy could affect as many as 750,000 live applications in just over 2 million existing applications. This process will not be fast, Michaeli noted, but Apple has accumulated hundreds of thousands of applications over the years, he said. For example, a few years ago, Apple supported the mandatory 64 bits which led to the elimination of many of the leftover applications that were not reworked with the current collection.

The developers just, though, expressed their concern that Appleā€™s policy is unfair especially for indie devs and especially for game creators. As Lazer-Walker puts it: It was not possible for me to spend several days updating each of the few free games I wrote in ~ 2014. In a similar vein, Protopop Games’ Robert Kabwe explains how it can is for indie development to try to keep up with the pace of change in mobile game development, often after their day job.

To clarify matters, Apple published a post stating that apps that have not been updated in three years that failed to meet the minimum download threshold are competitors for removal. The company justified its policy, which it said was launched under the title of Store Improvements in 2016, in terms of improving access, security and privacy, and user experience with applications downloaded from App Store.

Apples’ reference, while useful to set the exact rules of the discussion, does not address the subject of the number of objections to the policy. Essentially, this policy seems very restrictive for games, which can plan perfect artwork at one point of their evolution, as well as a film, and does not allow further evolution. This should prevent the possibility of playing them.

While it is certainly true, although, as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber put it, Pixar doesn’t have to repeat Toy Story every two years, this is not the end of the story. In fact, as Matt Deatherage puts it, “VHS tape of Toy Story you bought in 1996 did not work on your Apple TV box attached to your 8K TV”. Weakness also raises the bar further in favor of proposing older applications, aiming to reduce the technical debt caused on the platform by applications that use more APIs. Of course, those APIs should only be maintained to ensure backward compatibility for applications that are not constantly updated.

Apple’s information includes two key areas that can help developers receive Apple warning emails. First, they will give them more time to update their applications, up to 90 days. Most importantly, Apple says, if developers believe that their applications should not be affected by the system withdrawal policy, they have the opportunity to appeal the decision and reconsider their case.

As a final comment, it is worth noting that Apple’s policy similar to Google’s recent advertising policy aims to strengthen user security by removing applications that target the API level of more than two years.

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