Users around the world are noticing that they’re no longer able to re-download older iPhone and iPad apps and games that their developers have removed from sale on the App Store.
The abnormal behavior flies in the face of Apple’s policy of allowing people who bought apps from the App Store to re-download them to other devices through the App Store’s Purchased tab.
As a result, questions arose as to whether this pointed toward a big problem in the App Store. Sadly, as PocketGamer points out, this is definitely a new Apple policy meaning you now have to back up your purchased mobile apps in iTunes to keep them forever.
As it turns out, an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad application must remain on sale on at least one local App Store for it to appear in the Purchased tab as a re-downloadable app. If an app is removed from sale on all App Stores, it won’t appear under the App Store’s Purchased tab, meaning customers who previously paid for it won’t be able to re-download it.
“If an app that you own is removed from the App Store, you will no longer be able to download it from your purchase history,” an Apple spokesperson confirmed to Pocket Gamer.
“If developers remove their apps from the store, they cannot be redownloaded until the app has been resubmitted to the App Store,” an Apple spokesperson clarified.
Tweetbot developer Tapbots has confirmed this is true after discovering that Tweetbot 3, which they removed from sale after releasing Tweetbot 4, has also disappeared from customers’ Purchase histories.
“The solution to this problem comes from keeping Tweetbot 3 up for sale somewhere, which miraculously re-enabled anyone who had bought it before to download it,” TouchArcade explains.
@hodapp that definitely didn’t happen before and is catching a lot of devs by surprised. Putting it back for sale in 1 territory fixes it.
— Paul Haddad (@tapbot_paul) October 6, 2015
“The region they chose was the landlocked, French speaking, west African nation of Burkina Faso. The Burkina are the only people on the planet lucky enough to have the choice between buying Tweetbot 3 and Tweetbot 4,” the publication continues.
In the meantime, the affected developers have no other choice than going into their iTunes Connect accounts to set all their defunct apps for sale again in some tiny region, like Burkina Faso.
Those who want to keep their purchases forever are advised to back up their iOS app purchases by downloading them to their computer with iTunes as this is obviously a new Apple policy rather than just a bug in the App Store.