Tuesday, September 6, 2016 [Tweets] [Favorites]

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.

2 Comments

"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."

Considering how many apps have been infringing on trademarks, copyright or were rip-off clones of successful apps, it would be highly surprising that all apps have been reviewed by humans.

>Hopefully, Apple will not remove useful apps that still work but that have not been updated in a while.

Apple is really in an impossible situation here. They *have* to start cleaning out the App Store, because right now, it's bordering on unusable for normal people. At the same time, they're destroying history by removing old apps from the App Store while also preventing people from installing apps in any way other than via the App Store. Only allowing installation via the App Store should simply not be acceptable for a platform like iOS.

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