Apple Gives Developers More Time to Update 'Outdated' Apps Before Removal

Late last week, controversy erupted after Apple began notifying some developers that their apps that had not been updated in some time would be removed from the App Store as part of an "‌App Store‌ Improvements" project to clean up "outdated" apps.

iOS App Store General Feature Sqaure Complement
Many of the affected developers objected to Apple's policy, noting that their apps continued to function just fine despite a lack of updates, highlighting the amount of work that might be needed to submit even a minor update, and pointing out that many apps can exist as finished works without a need for continual updates.

Apple has now shared a new developer update clarifying its ‌App Store‌ Improvements policies and extending the amount of time it is giving developers to update their affected apps from 30 days to 90 days.

Apple says that apps that have not been updated within the past three years and which do not meet a minimum threshold for downloads ("not been downloaded at all or extremely few times during a rolling 12 month period") are subject to the policy, with developers receiving notices via email.

As part of the App Store Improvements process, developers of apps that have not been updated within the last three years and fail to meet a minimal download threshold — meaning the app has not been downloaded at all or extremely few times during a rolling 12 month period — receive an email notifying them that their app has been identified for possible removal from the App Store.

Developers can either appeal the pending removal or submit an update within 90 days in order to keep their apps live on the ‌App Store‌. Apps that are removed will continue to function normally for users who previously downloaded them.

Top Rated Comments

BootsWalking Avatar
8 months ago

Yes it is, because you don't have a lifetime agreement with Apple when you sign a developer agreement. In fact, you specifically agree that Apple has the right to introduce new policies or change existing ones regarding App Store requirements.
I checked Apple's developer agreement and found this (source ('https://developer.apple.com/support/downloads/terms/apple-developer-program/Apple-Developer-Program-License-Agreement-20211213-English.pdf')):

4. Changes to Program Requirements or Terms Apple may change the Program Requirements or the terms of this Agreement at any time. New or modified Program Requirements will not retroactively apply to Applications already in distribution via the App Store or Custom App Distribution; provided however that You agree that Apple reserves the right to remove Applications from the App Store or Custom App Distribution that are not in compliance with the new or modified Program Requirements at any time.

I'm scratching my head. How can Apple say it wont retroactively apply newly-created requirements to existing apps but only if the developer agrees to allow Apple to remove apps that don't comply with the new requirements? That's some mind-blowing circular attorney double-speak.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
8 months ago
This is going to result in the loss of a lot of vintage software.

Think about it, right now you can download old games and applications from the 90s to fool around with you on your 90s-era retro PC. You can play those old games and enjoy the nostalgia.

If Apple does this, nobody will be able to download and play games from the early years of the app store on older iOS devices. A lot of this software will be lost forever, since there's no archive of it out there and even if there were you need to jailbreak to load it up.

This policy is really bad for historical preservation. Apple really should re-think this.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KENPHOTO Avatar
8 months ago

That's all well and good, but what if the rule or criteria Apple is using to take an app out of the store didn't exist at the time the developer created the app? Is that fair to the developer? For example, here is the criteria Apple is using in their recent "App Store Improvements" page:

Developers of apps that have not been updated within the last three years and fail to meet a minimal download threshold — meaning the app has not been downloaded at all or extremely few times during a rolling 12 month period — receive an email notifying them that their app has been identified for possible removal from the App Store.

Source: https://developer.apple.com/support/app-store-improvements/

Did these rules exist before this new announcement? If not, is it fair for Apple to apply them retroactively?
Honestly, any developer that is concerned about this policy from apple is either a lazy developer that never updates their apps, or they are a developer that is not making any money from their app anyway so who cares. This BS excuse that software (Which is all an app is) is like a work of art that you just make once and never update is complete BS. I am a developer myself (CEO of a small app development company) and I have been developing for over five years now on iOS and every year when a new iOS is announced, it is just good business practice to ensure your app is updated. The only time updating an app just to keep up with the current iOS/Apple Design rules should cost a developer any real money is when they let their app fester for years without doing any updates. If they take the small amount of time each year to keep up to date, the cost should be negligible for 99.9% of developers.


That's all well and good, but what if the rule or criteria Apple is using to take an app out of the store didn't exist at the time the developer created the app? Is that fair to the developer? For example, here is the criteria Apple is using in their recent "App Store Improvements" page:

Developers of apps that have not been updated within the last three years and fail to meet a minimal download threshold — meaning the app has not been downloaded at all or extremely few times during a rolling 12 month period — receive an email notifying them that their app has been identified for possible removal from the App Store.

Source: https://developer.apple.com/support/app-store-improvements/

Did these rules exist before this new announcement? If not, is it fair for Apple to apply them retroactively?
Yes it is, because you don't have a lifetime agreement with Apple when you sign a developer agreement. In fact, you specifically agree that Apple has the right to introduce new policies or change existing ones regarding App Store requirements.


Honestly — and it’s VERY surprising — Apple gives WAY too much leniency towards devs not adhering to changes. From APIs and beyond, I wish, as the App Store stands, they took their own mandates seriously. The big devs don’t comply because they know Apple will never disable them.
Completely agree. Half of these apps have probably not been updated because the developer is either too lazy or doesn't want to have to fill in the privacy labels.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
_Spinn_ Avatar
8 months ago

Many of the affected developers objected to Apple's policy, noting that their apps continued to function just fine despite a lack of updates, highlighting the amount of work that might be needed to submit even a minor update, and pointing out that many apps can exist as finished works without a need for continual updates.
I'm fine with Apple cleaning up broken abandonware but some apps don't need updates once they are "done".
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
supernova82 Avatar
8 months ago
This is a very narrow way of looking at it. Like not every app needs update. Why should developers update something which is working fine? Also many of these apps are probably free. If you want the developers to update the app frequently, then they will have to start charging the money. Also what's up what that minimum threshold for downloads? If the app has less download then it dosen't mean it is not useful. It is just that it is not noticed by many people yet.

Or maybe I am missing something about Apple store. Comming from Android, where there are no restrictions like that.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheLunaPark Avatar
8 months ago
Personally, I can’t even remember the last time I downloaded an app. ?‍♂️
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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