Archive for September 6, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Removing Abandoned Apps and Shorter App Names

Apple (details, Hacker News):

We know that many of you work hard to build innovative apps and update your apps on the App Store with new content and features. However, there are also apps on the App Store that no longer function as intended or follow current review guidelines, and others which have not been supported with compatibility updates for a long time. We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps for these issues, notifying their developers, and removing problematic and abandoned apps from the App Store.

I think this is what most people expected Apple would do all along. We’re long past the point where Apple should be bragging in keynotes about how many apps are in the store. People don’t want quantity; they want better apps that are easier to find. Hopefully, Apple will not remove useful apps that still work but that have not been updated in a while.

In hopes of influencing search results, some developers have used extremely long app names which include descriptions and terms not directly related to their app. These long names are not fully displayed on the App Store and provide no user value. App names you submit in iTunes Connect for new apps and updates will now be limited to no longer than 50 characters.

This makes less sense to me. If the terms are irrelevant, Apple should never have allowed them to begin with. If they’re legitimate, why the arbitrary limit? Long names are a workaround for the fact that the App Store’s search engine doesn’t work very well, so this change could potentially make apps harder to find. As with search ads, the name limit is not necessarily a bad idea, but it’s worrying that Apple continues to work on the edges of the problem instead of just improving its search engine.

Manton Reece:

My worry is that Apple attempts to fight problems with new policy alone instead of also encouraging the right behavior with App Store features.

David Smith:

It looks like only around 9% of apps currently have names that are longer than 50 characters (around 200k).


The average length of an app name is 22 characters. The mode is 11. The median is 17. Which tells me that the 50 character limit was added largely to constrain the problem rather address it directly.


At the very least I suspect the trend of adding a dash/colon to the end of your app’s name and then appending a subtitle will be strictly forbidden.

Daniel Jalkut:

There are over 2 million apps in the App Store, and Apple has effectively announced that they are prepared to re-review all of them in the name of improving overall quality in the store. This hints strongly that there has been some systematic improvement to the review process. It boggles the mind to imagine that all 2 million of those apps were in fact reviewed by humans, but that happened over the course of almost 10 years. Whatever process Apple is gearing up to apply, they claim apps will start dropping from the store as early as September 7.

Swift 3’s “Never”

Erica Sadun:

SE-0102 removes the rarely-used @noreturn function type and replaced it with a dead-end return type[…]


Never allows a function or method to throw: e.g. () throws -> Never. Throwing allows a secondary path for error remediation, even in functions that were not expected to return.

As a first class type, Never works with generics in a way that the @noreturn attribute could not.

Erica Sadun:

Guard conditions require you to exit scope. Never mean you cannot return from your function. So, instead, add a simple do-scope layer[…]

Fortunately, I don’t think this sort of contortion is commonly needed.

iTunes 12.5 Removes Unreadable Custom Colors

Kirk McElhearn:

“Someone at Apple thought it would be a good idea, a few years ago, to have iTunes display content in certain views using colors extracted from album artwork. Sometimes this is quite attractive. But sometimes, this borders on torture.”


Well, Apple is changing this in iTunes 12.5. They’re eliminating this feature entirely. While there is currently an option to turn it off, I suspect that most people don’t bother to look for the setting, or don’t know it exists. And they then end up with a display that is simply unreadable.