Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Removing Unmaintained Apps from the App Store

Gavin Hope:

Here’s why I don’t want an unmaintained app in the App Store:

  • It goes again my values. I value good software and I try to make good software. Leaving apps around that I have no intention of improving feels wrong.
  • It’s not good for the customer. Allowing someone to invest time and/or money into software that’s been written off seems unfair; I like the software that I use to be kept up to date, bugs fixed and improvements made.
  • It looks bad. Out of date apps don’t reflect well on the other things I’m developing. They can suggest poor decisions, habits and practices. They make the overall portfolio look disjointed and messy.

I recently discovered that Gameloft’s The Oregon Trail (App Store) has been abandoned. I purchased it when it was released for $6. 65,652 ratings later, it’s still for sale at $5 with this too-subtle disclaimer in the description:

We are aware of an issue that might prevent the game from running properly on iOS 7 or iOS 8. We apologize for any current inconvenience this may cause.

It turns out that it doesn’t launch at all on iOS 8 or even iOS 7. So it’s been broken for a long time. It’s apparently abandoned because the last update was in 2011. When I reported the problem to Gameloft, they said:

Unfortunately, The Oregon Trail has not been optimized for new Apple devices, that is why you may experience problems of this kind.

We suggest the following solution:

  • delete The Oregon Trail
  • install The Oregon Trail: American Settler Free+

The “solution” is to install a completely different game (App Store). Or, I guess, you could play the free JavaScript version, although that doesn’t work on my iPhone.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

To fix this problem Apple could add to its policy that apps will be reviewed automatically every 2 or 3 years, and removed from sale if it doesn't pass the review. But having said that I fear the review will remove perfectly valid apps just because some review criteria has changed so I'm not so sure it's a good idea.

It should be possible to define which maximum OS version is compatible with the application via iTunes Connect so that it won't get installed on a device whose OS version is not compatible.


- by default, when you submit a new application, it should be set to be compatible up to the latest iOS release in iTunes Connect.
- the developer can only list it as being compatible with the the upcoming new iOS version when Apple sends the usual spa… ahem mailing to invite developers to submit updated versions of their applications for the new iOS release.

Compatibility opt-in seems to be a way to weed out a good portion of unmaintained app.

While this solution would not remove the apps from the visible list of apps in iTunes (*), it would on a device (**).

* unless you told iTunes to only look for apps compatible with the devices it knows about.
** of course, it should be possible to show all of them if you want to purchase an app for another older device from your up-to-date device.

If you have an old iOS device around, it is very nice to be able to download games and applications for it.

For example, my daughter inherited my ancient 2008 iPod touch 2nd generation... and it is still going strong, every day.

Is there a way for me to get a list of ALL my downloaded Apps with their last date updated? Any App that hasn't been updated in the last 12mos is obsolete. If I have a special one that hasn't, I can contact the developer directly to see if an update is coming. If Apps are just allowed to go stale, the value of the App stores will be doomed.

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