Thursday, November 17, 2011

Apple Removes “Texas Hold’em” From App Store

Eric Slivka reports that Apple has silently removed its own game from the App Store. It hadn’t been updated since 2008, but it still worked, and I know people who still play it. Rather than explaining what happened to the game, the Web page now simply redirects to the main App Store page.

This is troubling on two levels. First, there’s a reasonable expectation that a successful app, especially a first-party one, will be updated for new hardware. Texas Hold’em never got support for the Retina display, and it may stop working on future versions of iOS.

Second, if you had been relying on the cloud for backups of apps that you bought, you may have lost access to your purchase. Even though it could run on your current iPhone, you can’t re-download it. I recently deleted a large number of older apps from my Mac, to reduce clutter in iTunes and free up disk space. One of the new iCloud features in the App Store is a list of everything you’ve previously purchased, so you don’t have to worry about keeping backups on your Mac. Not surprisingly, you can’t re-download an app that Apple has pulled.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

Eh. Software expires. Sometimes a company decides to kill off a product. I don't get the (mild) outrage.

@Erik The second point is more significant to me. They want to discontinue a product? OK, that happens. It’s not like I had documents in that format. But pulling an app shortly after emphasizing that you could retrieve anything you’d purchased from the cloud? That’s not a good precedent if you’re trying to build trust.

[...] is currently the #8 Kindle book (#1 on paper) so presumably this will affect many, many people. Again, the lesson is: don’t trust the cloud. Make your own backups. And don’t believe every [...]

At no time in the past have I ever had (purchased, locally stored) desktop software "expire". Sure, if a company decides to kill off a product, there's no guarantee that I'll be able to install it on new hardware or a new OS, but I can always go back and use it on the old machine. I can't install Illustrator 10 on my new computer, for example, which is too bad, but it is a different CPU architecture, and the program still works just as well as always on the one I had when I bought it. I can even pull out my old SuperBase64 disks and put them in my C=64 and run it.

I think the problem is largely with naming: we've assumed that "app" meant, well, an application program. We all have 25 years of experience with what that means -- that it's running locally, that its data is stored locally, that I can back it up and restore from the backup, and so forth. It's never before meant "the publisher can basically delete it from your computer without asking". All the "apps" on Apple's "app stores" are really more like services-with-a-local-component. You may view this as a good thing or a bad thing, but it's certainly a *different* thing than the name suggests.

This is why I never upgrade iOS "apps" that I really care about, any more, or iOS itself. I have the apps I want, and they're working just fine today. At least a couple of my favorite apps have been discontinued and are no longer available in the store, and others have gotten worse when I tried updating them. Why risk losing what I have?

Leave a Comment