Apple Tells Some App Store Developers to Update Older Apps

Apple had earlier warned developers it would remove "abandoned apps." Google has created a similar policy for its Android software.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read

Apps that haven't been updated could pose security risks or worse.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple sent out warnings to developers recently, asking them to update their App Store apps or risk having them removed in the next month. The move, which some developers bristled at, appears to be part of Apple's "App Store Improvement" program to ensure app quality and security.

The notices, tweeted by at least two developers in the past few days, both appeared to impact older video games on the platform. 

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move appears to be the latest in a series of steps Apple's taken to ensure quality of apps offered on its App Store, which has an estimated more than 2 million apps available, according to data compiled by Statista. The company typically focuses its moderation efforts on reviewing apps before they're made available on its App Store, which is the only place Apple allows people to download apps for the iPhone and iPad. But it's also increasingly acknowledged potential security and compatibility issues of apps left on its service without updates over the years.

Since at least 2016, Apple has said it will remove older apps that hadn't been recently updated from its App Store, though it's unclear how often the company's followed through. Apple's support documents on its website say that apps in "all categories on the App Store will be evaluated to make sure they function as expected, follow current review guidelines, and are not outdated."

Google as well announced a similar program earlier this month aimed at "hiding" apps that haven't been updated in years. Google develops the Android mobile software that powers most of the world's smartphones not made by Apple, and its Google Play app store is widely used to sell and distribute apps. Google said its new policy won't go into effect until this fall.

While it's unclear how many apps are affected by Google's or Apple's app store cleaning programs, both companies may take an opportunity to discuss their rules during their upcoming developer conferences. Google I/O will be held on May 11, and Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) will kick off on June 6.