Apple and Google remove neglected apps from online stores


Collecting antiques becomes more difficult but not impossible when it comes to apps for smartphones and tablets. Apple and Google limit the availability of apps that have gone too long without an update – but the two companies aren’t quite as strict about it. For now, each allows a workaround.

Apple announced on April 29 that it would consider an app neglected if it had “not been updated in the past three years” and had “not been downloaded at all or very few times in the past three years.” ‘a period of 12 rolling months’.

Meeting both of these criteria would result in the app developer receiving a warning of the app’s possible removal from the App Store – which, since this is the only practical way to distribute an iPhone or iPad app, amounts to a death sentence. Developers have up to 90 days to send an update to remove this threat.

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The policy represents a step back from an earlier rule that Apple revealed via email to developers this spring: two years without an update would make an app subject to removal, with only 30 days to submit an update.

What happens when an app is removed from the store?

Either way, users with the app already installed should be safe. “Your app will remain fully functional for current users,” Apple’s policy states, including support for in-app purchases. And backing up an old iPhone or iPad device and then restoring that backup to a new phone or tablet should move the app.

Many developers remain indifferent to this policy.

“This is another reminder that Apple controls all distribution of iOS apps, which means these rules, and all others, can leave developers and users with no choice,” Brent Simmons emailed , developer of NetNewsWire and other applications.

Apple declined to comment on the filing, but confirmed that aside from titles removed for being malware, an app that is no longer available in the App Store will be transferred to new devices through the backup and restore process. restoration.

“It doesn’t make sense to keep apps on the App Store that crash on launch or have been abandoned entirely,” emailed Adam Engst, editor of longtime Apple newsletter Tidbits. But other than that, he wondered if this rule helps users much — people can decide for themselves whether old but working apps offer value or not.

Engst’s suggestion: “It would seem best to hide the app from the App Store to prevent new downloads while keeping it available to existing users who are upgrading or transitioning so that they don’t cannot copy from their old device.”

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Google’s approach to legacy apps is different

This is the approach Google will take from November 22. In April, the company announced what amounts to a two- to three-year policy: Android apps, which must already specify the latest Android version they support, cannot drop. more than two years behind the current version of Android.

If this rule were in effect today, when the current version is Android 12 vintage 2021, apps would need to support at least Android 10 from 2019.

The penalty is less severe than Apple’s: Google’s Play Store will hide non-compliant apps from users who haven’t installed them yet and whose devices are running a newer version of Android. Everyone will still see the app in the Play Store.

And even if an app disappears from the Play Store – for example, the nifty augmented reality measurement app that Google removed from the Play Store last year – it may linger for individual users who transfer it from one Android device to another. the other using Google. phone migration software. At least until an OS update leaves it crashing on every launch.

Rob Pegoraro is a Technical Writer based in Washington, DC To submit a technical question, email Rob at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at


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