Apple may have begun a new push to remove outdated software from the App Store

The company recently sent a notice to some developers about its App Store Improvements policy.

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Igor Bonifacic
April 24, 2022 9:02 PM
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Cherlynn Low/Engadget

Apple may have begun more rigorously enforcing its policy against unused and dysfunctional apps. Back in 2016, the company vowed it would go out of its way to remove applications that had stopped working, not kept up with its latest guidelines or become outdated. After not drawing much attention over the last few years, that policy came back into the public consciousness this week. In a series of tweets spotted by The Verge, a handful of indie developers shared an email notice from Apple prompting them to update their games.

“This app has not been updated in a significant amount of time and is scheduled to be removed from sale in 30 days,” the company states in the email. “You can keep this app available for new users to discover and download from the App Store by submitting an update for review within 30 days.”

Apple notes developers can continue to earn revenue from microtransactions even if it removes their app or game from the store. Moreover, their programs will continue to work for those who have them downloaded to their devices. Some people who shared screenshots of the notice on Twitter expressed concern that the policy disproportionately affects smaller developers.

“This is an unfair barrier to indie devs,” Protopop Games developer Robert Kabwe said. “I’m sitting here on a Friday night, working myself to the bone after my day job, trying my best to scrape a living from my indie games, trying to keep up with Apple, Google, Unity, Xcode, macOS changes that happen so fast my head spins while performing worse on older devices.”

On a support page dedicated to its App Store Improvements initiative, the company states the policy is designed “to make it easier for customers to find great apps that fit their needs.” It also notes it wants to ensure all the software you found on the platform is “functional and up-to-date.”

Obviously, there isn’t an easy answer to the situation. From the perspective of an iOS user, it’s not great when you buy a new Apple device and find apps that aren’t optimized to take advantage of the hardware. I encountered that situation when I bought my 2020 iPad Air and downloaded Klei’s tactical espionage RPG Invisible, Inc. Playing the game for the first time, I was disappointed when I found out the studio had not updated the game to support the iPad Air’s 2,360 by 1,640 resolution. In fact, Klei hasn’t updated the iOS version of Invisible, Inc. since 2016. That hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the game, but I wish I could play it without black bars letterboxing the interface.

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