Apple shares criteria for removing ‘discontinued’ software from App Store, extending response window

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In response to recent coverage of software being removed from the App Store, Apple shares its criteria for how it chooses to remove abandoned apps. The company also recalls that the practice is not new but rather part of an initiative launched six years ago. Developers will also have more time to comply after being notified.

Discontinued Apps

The effort began in September 2016 as part of a larger initiative to revitalize the App Store with daily editorial decisions and clearer policies. The company said it would retire software that had been abandoned by developers or simply no longer worked. It makes sense to remove software created years ago that doesn’t work when downloaded by customers onto new hardware, but it hasn’t always been clear that this is what happens. There’s nothing stopping Apple from pulling apps that still work but just aren’t maintained.

Criteria

Six years later, after resetting developer relations, Apple is still learning how to improve its developer relations. Part of that effort is to publish its criteria for how it chooses to remove apps it considers abandoned.

As part of the App Store improvement process, app developers who have not been updated in the last three years and have not reached a minimum download threshold – which means that the app has not been downloaded at all or very few times in a rolling 12 month period – receive an email letting them know that their app has been flagged for possible removal from the App Store.

Pointing out that the program has been running for years as standard App Store maintenance, Apple shares that it has removed nearly 2.8 million apps and counts to meet those criteria.

Longer call delay

One thing that’s new, however, is the amount of time Apple now gives developers to respond to abandoned app notifications. When Apple notifies a developer that an app appears to be discontinued and is likely to be removed, the company now gives developers 90 days to update their app and avoid removal. Prior to this change, developers had 30 days to comply.

Learn more about the policy on Apple’s developer site. Apple says it has also revised its page detailing the practice for clarity.

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