iOS 7 (App Store teaser 004)

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.

“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.

Source: TouchArcade, PocketGamer

  • osm70

    Do they want us to pirate?

    • osm70

      Ok, someone explain this: I said WANT and it published WATN. I even edited it and it changed back to WATN after refreshing.

      EDIT: Weird, it just fixed itself

      • h4nd0fg0d

        It’s not close to 100% fixed.

    • Bugs Bunnay

      Welcome to the dark side.

    • John

      Any excuse, right?

      Developer has decided not to sell the app anymore so it’s not available in the App Store, what’s your desperate need to pirate something that’s no longer available?

      • Yohannon

        I dunno, maybe someone is stuck on an older phone and CAN’T run the newer version? 😛

      • osm70

        Not an excuse. I CANNOT buy it, so I am not causing any damage by pirating.

        Also I don’t need to make excuses. I am a pirate. I know it’s not right, but I don’t really care.

        But I still think, pirating something you cannot buy is OK.

      • Tupring

        Counterfeiters have the same attitude. You can’t buy money so they make their own.

      • entra0

        What’s my desperate need to pirate something that’s no longer avaliable? Maybe BECAUSE it’s no longer avaliable. I would buy it if I could.

      • carrot

        I already paid for it. They won’t let me redownload? I will pirate, just to get it back.

      • Had you backed the app up in the first place you wouldn’t need to pirate it. Backup everything since you never know when something might disappear from a store somewhere or when data might be lost meaning you need to recover it from a copy somewhere (a backup).

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, but apple big on pushing cloud usage. And ive bought into that system. Wouldnt you agree that this move contradicts apple cloud based ecosystem?

      • Wouldnt you agree that this move contradicts apple cloud based ecosystem?

        Definitely! An iCloud backup isn’t really a backup if it doesn’t contain everything (well technically it is, it just isn’t a very good backup). They also don’t backup health data and I think there’s other data that isn’t included in an iCloud backup too.

        It’s best just to do a full device backup once in a while to ensure that you don’t lose anything. It also might be a good idea to download apps to your iTunes Library.

      • John

        Isn’t him pirating the same as backing your phone up, especially beacuse he owns it.

      • In theory yes, from a legal standpoint probably not.

      • John

        yeah. but aren’t you allowed to play pokemon emulators if you own the game, or it that not true?

      • Tupring

        Many people who don’t even own a computer have iPhones.
        How are they supposed to back up their Apps in iTunes?

      • They should have thought about that before buying an iPhone. Although in a world where more and more things are being sold as a service (SaaS – Software as a Service) backing up won’t help.

      • Tupring

        That’s not really pirating. Especially if you have your App Store purchase receipt email. You have a right to possess what you paid for and can prove you paid for. Let them try prove you pirated it when you have proof you bought it.

      • Thai Amulet

        yes but if you email apple asking for it.. they dont reply
        tried that ten times at least. Apple knows as well as i do, that if you ask a lawyer to take issue, you will be asked to deposit 10,000$ retainer first. So Apple know that there is little chance of an angry kid taking legal issue about his 3$ app. A good idea if humans knew how to collaborate, would be a kickstarter fund for legal fees for ‘we the consumers’ to sue apple

      • Anonymous

        Its not pariating if you already bought. And if the dev dosent wanna sell it then there no harm. I do believe you should buy someone hard work. But in the event the dev, or any artist dosent wanna sell it, prate away.

      • djkm

        I guess everyone just imagined that they didn’t need to back up the files on their machine and that they would be there in perpetuity. Can’t think of software I can’t download from the source again if I want, at least.

      • Qmish

        The situation in article is about different thing, though: IF YOU BOUGHT app, now u cant download it from appstore anymore if developer is out of business there.

      • Thai Amulet

        so if you buy a book from me and one day i take it back and say im not selling it anymore.. and you tell me ‘but i bought it beforehand and its mine!’ and they say ‘well it isnt available anymore’ and you say ‘so give me my money back’ and they dont reply

    • Thai Amulet

      no they are just too stupid to realise that their policy is a provocation and an instigation to boycott and as you say, to pirate. Boycott is definitely the feeling that Apple is generating in the hearts of many of its long standing fans, including me

  • Lame. Some new app updates are awful compared to their older versions.

    • Fardeen Beharry

      snapseed comes to mind

  • Jason B

    Agreed, glad I got Jelly Car installed on our old iPhone 4s’s (for the kids) before this happened, because I couldn’t find it on the app store anymore, it wasn’t until I was browsing my purchased apps, that I ran across it…

    • Rick Kreuk

      NOOO… Why must you give me the urge to play Jelly Car after all this time, when it’s just been made unavailable? WHY?!?!

      • Jason B

        Hahahaha, I know, right? One of the best games. Found it on an old iPhone 3G I still had, and the kids loved it. Had to put it back on our other phones. The music is so cool.

  • John Wolf

    Big deal! Apple is actually creating consumer responsibility. BACK UP YOUR PHONE! It should never have been Apple’s responsibility to keep the purchase history of apps no longer in their store.

    • Vince Reedy

      But they could have said so before they just started pulling apps.

  • ravinigga

    Devs dont make premium they make now freemium pay2comtinu? -(

  • rockdude094

    This is blasphemy !!!

  • besrate hogsa

    I made it a habit to backup my purchased apps in iTunes

  • rfow

    RIP Tweetbot 2, all the FIFA apps that came out on iOS before IAP, Ultimate MK3, many more… To be reasonable, if they were pulled by the developers then they’re probably just not compatible anymore.

    • Bugs Bunnay

      Not RIP. Pirate.

    • besrate hogsa

      RIP Tweetbot 3

      • rfow

        Whats ironic about this is that I did a restore set up as new like 2 hours before I saw this article. I probably got it downloaded just as they were pulling it lmao.

      • besrate hogsa

        you were lucky

  • F ucking unbelievable- there are a number of apps I have fondly ‘kept’ in my history. Really sad I won’t be able to get them back! WTF Apple, you sons of b1tches!

  • Rick Kreuk

    I do hope this means we get a partial refund for every app that has disappeared, as class-action lawsuits will and should be plenty if not.

    • besrate hogsa

      I think that is fair

    • Remember that EULA you agreed when you upgraded to the latest iOS? You accepted the changes they made before they pulled this shit on us!

      That lawsuit won’t work, unless people with older firmwares decide to go for it.

    • John

      Why? What policy has been breeched?
      Show me somewhere where Apple agrees that ALL legacy applications will be available to download forever.

  • Glad I always transfer my apps to my computer every so often. This would have been really bad in the days when we needed to use apps to tether.

  • Zachary Price

    I knew this was going to happen. I called it 2 years ago. Been backing up manually ever since.

  • dudeimmexican

    Shoot! Apple give me a refund for apps you remove that I paid (if any paid apps) I

  • diggitydang

    Even if you back up on iTunes, as new OS’s come out and bugs are introduced, the app will eventually fall off because it won’t be supported anymore and won’t be updated.

    • besrate hogsa

      That is a shame

  • DM Cook

    Everyone please note that you CANNOT BACK UP apps from an iOS 9 device to iTunes, effectively sealing us out from even being able to back up. This is intentional on Apple’s part, and it relates to the App Thinning feature. They claim that App Thinning makes it impossible to back up an app in iTunes because the app would only be installable on the device it came from. So, they’ve removed the feature entirely.

    • You can still download the apps from the AppStore in iTunes though can’t you?

    • Anonymous

      Question? If people have a back up could they download it to there new phone? Like they have an app in there itune libary. I dont back up using itunes. I perfer cloud base. So i dont know. But for all the post of idb users saying they have back up all there app. And say they have a new iphone 6s/plus could they upload it to there new phone?

    • mav3rick

      This should be sticky on top. User Options Thinning…

    • stormy_skye

      Exactly the reason I use iTunes on my PC to purchase or update apps. That seems to be the only way to now get the full app every time.

      Then backup the .ipa in iTunes library to another drive, just in case.

  • John

    Actually Don, how many times have policies changes changes when we haven’t read each page? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did publish the change and everyone has just glanced past it.

    • Don Walker II

      I don’t disagree with that at all. My point here is that it was once their obligation policy wise and somewhere along the line that policy was changed unfortunately.

  • John

    I also agree that the customer backing up to iCloud SHOULD have all apps available to them but I don’t believe that if you take the responsibility to back up yourself, Apple should keep legacy apps available for you to download.

    • Don Walker II

      Backing up to iCloud is backing up yourself, and Apple even strongly encourages such activity. However due to the fact that the App Store handles app downloads after a restore from iCloud ,either the system needs to be revised or the legacy apps should remain available for download from Apple, at least to those who have already purchased the apps.

  • WolfgangHoltz

    Tanks Apple.
    Now you showed your real face.
    Whats next paid music?

  • igobythisname

    I always have backed up my .ipa files! Comes in VERY HAND when an app’s update turns out to be for worse rather than for better.. (ie: pretty much every Facebook update!), and also for situations like this… ;-D

  • Guy

    This is gonna piss off lots of people

    • IkillYou

      many ripping time!

  • Guy

    So the backing up to iCloud is now rendered useless. Start backing up iTunes if you want to keep your apps.

  • Jason Baroni

    I believe this gives us the right to get a refund, right?

  • iDude

    This is absurd! the first app that came to my mind is NBA 2k14 which i prefer over 2k15.

  • Terris2212

    This is the big thank you from Apple to all their customers.
    As for me and my family : NEVER buy apple products AGAIN.

    • Kyle

      Go buy every product from the Apple Store. Now.

  • kickinghorse99

    Too bad ifans, we (Apple) do what we think is best for our loyal customers!

    • stormy_skye

      My gawd, you sound just like our local government. Always knowing what’s best for the peoples.

  • Mike Colacone Saal

    So two months ago when I was looking for the old Tiger woods game that has been removed I could have just went to the purchased tab. -_-

  • M_Hawke

    I don’t know…gut reaction is that this is stupid.

  • Mukund Bhatla

    Has anyone noticed that you cannot back up your purchases anymore to iTunes v12.3 and iOS 9.x!?

  • 5723alex .

    Question : If you buy an app/game on Google Play or Microsoft app store and the app/game has been removed by the developer, can you re-download ?

    • XcodeGhost

      Yeah I can still re-download FIFA 14 on my Android smartphone.

    • George

      Of course, and even then you can get apks for it on Android.

  • David Cawthorne

    I purchased Word Lens after it was recommended on iDB. It has been pulled now but I have it backed up in iTunes. The problem now is that even if I reinstall the app, I still can’t restore any in app purchases. The message is you have no purchases linked to your account!

  • Since I paid for apps that are no longer available and cannot be used on my devices again, would Apple allow a refund for them?

  • h4nd0fg0d

    I’m a big mobile gamer, spent untold on games. Been following this for a bit now. And I gotta throw Apple great big GO FCK YOURSELF. Never considered jumping ship, but this bullshit has me pissed. Come on jb and my second love, appcake. Ftmfw

  • I just checked my purchases again and some that were missing are now back. If I were you I would check again to see if they’ve been added back after so many people complained.

  • thismarty

    This is the kind of thing that makes Windows look good. Apple iOS with its curated, appliance-y approach to software is great as long as your attachment to the software you use is merely casual. Heaven forbid you actually start to count on it though.

  • Owen Sky

    They seem to have removed the ability to download an app onto multiple devices without paying twice.

    I have apps that are still on the app store that I have paid for, but cannot download to another device without paying twice.

    Wish they had come clean with this change when they released IOS 9!

  • Handsome Jack

    Apple has screwed me over like this more than once. Of course Apple is too cheap to issue a refund. This kind of practice needs to be stopped via a lawsuit.

  • mariocampie17

    So I downloaded the iMessage Application Phoneys and I was unaware that once you uncheck it on my phone that it will the remove the iMessage Application from my iPhone immediately. Apple has since removed this Application from it’s iTunes store and with there recent updates to their terms of service the Application no longer shows up in my Purchased section. Is there anyway I would be able to get this Application back? I have it installed on my iPad as of right now if there is anyway I could transfer it to my iPhone but I don’t know how. I tried to transfer my purchase to my Mac but whenever I do this none of my Applications appear in iTunes for me to download them to my iPhone then. Does anyone know any way of fixing this issue, please help!

  • M T

    Those who want to keep their purchases forever are advised to back up
    their iOS app purchases by downloading them to their computer with

    Just how do I do this — with iTunes-12.x? There is one application on my old iPhone, that is not getting transferred to my new one — I assume, that’s because it is no longer available in App Store… I can “see” it in iTunes, when I connect the old iPhone to computer, but the old advice of going to File->Devices->Transfer Purchased does not seem to do anything…

  • Thai Amulet

    Is it not illegal that io buy chaos rings 1 and 2 for 20$ each. and then Apple removes them from the appstore?
    They should be something in the constitution about it, and im sure there is. You cannot remove the goods which are paid for. This shows the disadvantage and dangers of using digital goods marketplaces such as appstore.. nobody knows if they wont go bust like Yahoo Geocities did, deleting millions of websites of peoples blogs etc.. If appstore goes bankrupt i will lose 15,000$ of digital goods.. Im now back to hard goods on bluray and screw this rubbish – what happened with chaos rings 1 and 2 from squarenix 20$ each? and OSX Server? renamed to ‘Server’ and removed from my purchase list.. asking to pay again! wont buy another app from appstore ever! its too unsafe.. any app can be removed and lose purchased goods = 1 year later appstore falls into decline due to consumer disgust