Abandoned apps policy could see a third of apps removed

The crackdown on “abandoned apps” announced last month by Apple – and a similar move by Google – could see a total of 1.5 million apps removed from the two app stores.

This would represent, according to a new report, about a third of all the applications available…

Background

Apple’s monitoring of abandoned apps – those that haven’t been updated for a long time – is nothing new. The company previously announced a similar purge in 2016, though it appeared to focus on apps that were no longer fully functional with current devices.

The Notice to Developers today says Apple will begin reviewing and removing non-functional apps on September 7 across all App Store categories. Apps that automatically crash on launch will be removed from the App Store immediately, but other apps will have 30 days to submit an update to keep the app in the store.

This saw almost 50,000 apps deleted.

Apple made its latest announcement last month.

Apple has sent some developers an email titled “App Improvement Notice”, warning that the company will remove apps from the App Store that have not been “updated for a long time”.

Developers complained that this could result in apps being removed that remained fully functional, leading Apple to be more explicit about its removal criteria, while giving developers more time to comply.

As part of the App Store improvement process, developers of apps that have not been updated in the past three years and have not reached a minimum download threshold, which means that the application has not been downloaded at all or very few times in a continuous period of 12 months. — receive an email notifying them that their app has been flagged for possible removal from the App Store.

The company also stressed that this was not a new policy; it was just to alert developers to an existing policy.

Impact of Abandoned Apps Crackdown

CNET reports that Pixalate used analytics data to estimate the number of apps that could be removed.

These “discontinued” apps make up a third of the App Store and Play Store’s combined app catalogs, according to the report from analyst firm Pixalate. Google’s store had about 869,000 apps that had been neglected for more than two years, while Apple’s store had about 650,000. […]

Many apps are more up-to-date, according to the report, with 68% of apps on both stores, or more than 3.1 million apps, updated in the past two years. The most frequently updated apps tend to be those with significantly more downloads: 84% of apps with over 100 million downloads were updated in the last six months.

We noted earlier in the year that we’re also seeing a lot of Apple Watch apps disappearing – although in this case it’s the developers who decide they’re no longer worth maintaining.

We can officially add Uber to the long list of big brands that have discontinued their Apple Watch apps. The ride-sharing company quietly discontinued its watchOS app, displaying a brief message to users who attempt to launch it. Uber joins Twitter, Instagram, Target, Trello, Slack, Hulu, Evernote and many other companies that have discontinued their Apple Watch apps.

I said at the time that it was neither surprising nor worrying.

Many Watch apps just didn’t make sense. Rather than providing quick access to relevant information, or a simple way to do something useful (like unlock a door), they made apps too complex, requiring too much interaction. Far from making anything more convenient than using an iPhone app, they made it more inconvenient and time-consuming.

Photo: Jeremy Bezanger/Unsplash

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Lance B. Holton