Apple is preparing to take down App Store apps that no longer receive updates

Apple is conducting an App Store sweep, prepping to take down outdated iPhone and iPad apps, those that don’t no longer function as intended and similar.

App Store icon on a dark background
  • Another App Store purge looms, with millions of zombie apps potentially affected
  • The goal is to free the App Store of apps that haven’t been updated in a long time
  • Even with an app removed, previously downloaded copies remain on devices

Outdated App Store apps could be removed soon

Apple seems to be preparing to remove lots of apps that haven’t been updated in a long time. Well, how precisely a long time are we talking about here? That’s the key problem because Apple is looking to take down apps that haven’t been “updated in a significant amount of time.” The scope seems to be intentionally arbitrary.

Another problem is that Apple gave developers just 30 days to comply and update the apps or risk seeing them removed from the store. When an app is removed from the store, any previously downloaded copies of it stay on users’ devices. Theremoved  app is no longer listed in the store and won’t surface in search.

From Apple’s “App Improvement Notice” to developers:

You can keep this app available for new users to discover and download from the App Store by submitting an update for review in 30 days, If no update is submitted in 30 days, the app will be removed from sale.

Some affected developers took to social media to vent their frustration with Apple’s move, including Kosta Eleftheriou, who created the FlickType Apple Watch keyboard, and Protopop Games developer Robert Kabwe who said on Twitter that Apple is eyeing his game Motivoto just because it hasn’t been updated since March 2019 even though it works perfectly on the latest devices and iOS versions.

Many other developers of similar apps or games that haven’t received updates in about 1-2 years confirmed receiving this email from Apple, with some of them saying they didn’t have the time to work on app updates.

The previous App Store purge

This isn’t the first time Apple has been combing through the App Store catalog in search of outdated apps. In 2016, it also gave developers 30 days to update abandoned apps before taking them down. Apple calls this an ongoing process, saying its main goal is to remove apps that “no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines or are outdated.”

Emma Roth, The Verge:

That said, it’s unclear whether Apple has continuously been enforcing this rule over the years, or if it recently started conducting a wider sweep. Apple also doesn’t clearly outline what it considers to be “outdated” — whether it’s based on the time that has elapsed since an app was last updated, or if it concerns compatibility with the most recent version of iOS.

Regular people like you and me should benefit from the purge because the App Store shouldn’t be a place for old fart apps or beer simulators from 2010 that saw their last update back when Touch ID was all the rage. For some developers, especially smaller ones, unfortunately, it’ll be a struggle to keep up with Apple’s ever-evolving APIs and major new iOS versions. Read: How to clear App Store cache