This would be ok if you could sideload apps.
Google does the same thing, but you can go to F-Droid and other places. Apple... you can't, unless you go through the pain of jailbreaking.
Apple has warned developers it will remove their products from its App Stores if they've not been updated for three years. A policy update issued last Friday explained apps that "fail to meet a minimal download threshold – meaning the app has not been downloaded at all or extremely few times during a rolling 12 month period" …
"So if you could side load apps, these apps would be magically updated?"
Not all apps need constant refreshing, and in some cases the manufacturer has wandered off and forgotten the device, but you still make use of it.
Therefore, you assess whether or not the app is useful and you assess whether or not it poses a security risk and you can install it.
Indeed, I'm setting up a new tablet and have run into exactly this problem (old thingy, app no longer on the store). Thankfully I can extract the apk from my phone and toss it to the tablet using Bluetooth and install it on the tablet and, whoo, it works just fine.
"A policy update issued last Friday explained apps that "fail to meet a minimal download threshold – meaning the app has not been downloaded at all or extremely few times during a rolling 12 month period" will also be at risk of deletion from the App Store. The policy applies to iOS, iPadOS and macOS."
"Extremely few"??? do they mean only a few times?
I'm glad other people caught that.
Pretty ballsy to argue that being a monopoly is ok because that's how your business runs. Wouldn't fly outside of business law.
"I know I was speeding officer, but its ok, because driving the speed limit undermines the time it takes for me to get where I'm going"
"I know murder is illegal your honor, but it's benign, because not murdering people undermines my interior decorating scheme of lampshades made from human flesh"
It is called bitrot.
It is a digital process in which bits spontaneously decide to flip. The lucky ones do an exclusive apple-or-die with nothing. But, there are, inevitably, some unlucky bits that meet ones in exclusive apple-or-die mode and are forced to change.
As the article states, apps "that no longer function as intended, don't follow current review guidelines, or are outdated" could already be removed under Apple's previous policy. This easily includes apps which are using outdated, less-secure APIs.
This change to their policy is purely based on the age of the app, even if said app requires no permissions, uses no insecure APIs, works at any screen size, and does not need any new or updated functionality to work as advertised.
If you have an app that "doesn't need any change" all you have to do is recompile it and submit for update. Surely that's not much of a burden. Yes, there's that $100 dev fee, but if your app isn't making enough to be worth paying that you aren't losing anything by having it removed.
I'm not sure how that $100 fee works - you may have to keep it current to have your app remain in the app store. If so it costs you $0 to recompile and resubmit.
Yes, recompile the code, reconstruct the package, presumably change at least a couple pieces of metadata so it's not byte-for-byte identical to the last package, and republish. This has done nothing for your users. It may have taken you some time to do. Now it has to go through Apple's verification system and all your users will have to download this app that's no different than the last one. If you fail to do it, new users won't be able to use your thing anymore. Why is this needed, again?
Sometimes an app's developer has washed his hands of the whole thing, so there's not going to be any of that effort to keep the thing in the App Store, but it could still work just fine. The users who would benefit from having that option will be the losers here.
I know I am wary of software that is that old, and usually if it is that old with no updates, it has been abandoned or at least put on the very back burner by its developer, but sometimes it still works quite well.
Whilst true, an old app with no updates is less likely to be suddendly borked by "improvements".
i can't speak for Jobsian situation as I don't have any such handheld devices, but certainly with Android I've lost count how many times fairly well working app has been broken or made useless by improvements that either make it less stable, slower or in some cases lose functionality in some cases by bait and switch of trying to make people buy the paid for version.
I don't mind paying for something I use frequently or depend on. For something rarely used less so. To be pushed to upgrade by crippling existing version I'll just find another that does what i need (and pay for that if I need to).
"As the article states, apps "that no longer function as intended, don't follow current review guidelines, or are outdated" could already be removed under Apple's previous policy. This easily includes apps which are using outdated, less-secure APIs."
I hate to defend Apple, but under the existing rules a human has to go and look at the app, apply guidelines, work out what the app was intended to do, see if the app still works as intended, and then decide whether to kick it off or not. By applying rules like "app has been downloaded fewer than x times" and "app hasn't been updated in y years", that process can be objective and automated...
...and 98% of the stuff that will be kicked off is untended rubbish that no-one will miss anyway.
And those security updates would be? Yes, your app might use dependencies that have fixed security vulnerabilities, but it also might not. If you wrote all your functionality yourself, then there might not be any vulnerabilities you know about. In addition, Apple didn't say they were scanning for library usage and removing apps based on that, so it looks like you could change the version number in your about screen, make a new package, and publish that update to meet this time requirement.
Does it still work? Have they broken something because it was insecure. How some upstart decided that some API is now deprecated because now I can do this thing so much better now and consume twice as many resources as before.
Or does you app even match the new look of the newer OS, depending on where we are in the OS cycle with flat buttons rounded buttons 3D buttons grey rainbow etc schemes.
I have one app\time, a wasting game that is 64bit but hasn't seen an update in years, but does exactly what it should it plays pinochle, and there is nothing on android that even comes close, I have both kinds of phones... Should Apple remove it, it will be another reason not to continue with the iPhone, cost is a major factor, especially I've only spent €100 on my second hand SE. And as I look at the comment form it says Add an icon, I'd like to add the Apple with worms...
So Apple ban them?
I have a few apps that were last updated about five years ago.
They work. They do the stuff I got them for.
The only reason any of them would need updating is if the operating system manufacturer deliberately broke an API they use.
I do not want to use an operating system where the developers are forced to their waste time fixing things that the OS broke.
They should be spending their time doing things I, as a customer, actually care about, not pedalling furiously to stay still because Tim Cook (or some Googler) says so.
Sure, but maybe they don't link the latest Apple advertisement SDK. There are some apps that do not talk to anything, don't gather any data, and perform simple tasks that do not change. For example I have an app to compute hyperfocal distance, filters factors. and the like. What kind of updates it needs?
What kind of updates it needs?
Simple - it needs building with the latest version of the SDK so that it can't now be loaded onto iDevices that Apple no longer wants people to be able to use. Being able to use older devices because "they still do what people want them to do" is an anathema to any business that's built its business model on selling a new shinier gadget to everyone each year.
"I do not want to use an operating system where the developers are forced to their waste time fixing things that the OS broke"
You're not alone in this. I suspect, nobody who has thought about it does. But these days we don't have much choice. Quite apart from 'OS' changes we have abortions the like changes to PHP that render older code inoperable. Constant tinkering is now a fundamental element of the general 'developer culture'.
Oh, god, don't mention PHP.
I can't believe that a globally prominent language seeing a lot of server side use has such an unbelievably poor concept of backwards compatibility. I dread when my host does server updates because something is going to break.
(that said, I think PHP is less of a debacle than Python2 to Python3!)
On the one hand this is a good idea because, even if the software works it might contain security issues, be linked against deprecated libraries etc - and requiring developers to do some housekeeping is no bad plan. But…
On the other hand it’s a bloody horrible idea which is likely to generate a ton of e-waste. I have a couple of iPad 2s, 32 bit devices for which no new software will ever be written - but the old software is still available. I can, today at least, install apps from the App Store for it - so they’re still handy devices for the kids to play with. I assume that this stunt will remove all that old software and, in doing so, turn all those old 32 bit devices into paperweights.
It should be said that it is possible to build software for your iOS devices and install using Xcode, and there’s a wealth of open source software available, in effect making side loading a possibility. But it does require technical savvy, and even with that technical knowledge it is a bit of a pain in the arse.
"On the one hand this is a good idea because, even if the software works it might contain security issues, be linked against deprecated libraries etc"
With all the vetting of applications apple claims to do i'd expected them to scan for issues like outdated libraries and known security issues. Banning an app that is found by that kind of security scan is something not many would disagree with.
" - and requiring developers to do some housekeeping is no bad plan."
I don't see how requiring developers to do housekeeping for the sake if it is benefical to anyone.
Do your daily chores!?
I'd rather go with "if it ain't broke don't fix it"
"I can, today at least, install apps from the App Store for it - so they’re still handy devices for the kids to play with. I assume that this stunt will remove all that old software and, in doing so, turn all those old 32 bit devices into paperweights."
Apple wants you to buy a new one. Old ones being e-waste paperweights has long been part of Apple's business model.
I had a game in the AppStore that was removed years ago because it was "too old".
I was given fair warning and I could have updated it. However, that would have involved reinstalling Unity, digging up the source as it stood when it was released - I'd been slowly upgrading it to v2 - and having to deal with Xcode again. In the end, I decided life is too short.
I have several reasons this makes perfect sense:
1. A number of app developers either don't exist anymore, or are too lazy to update after getting our hard-earned
2. There's a dearth of apps that just are unstable after recent updates to iOS and their developers seem to not care
3. This will hopefully force developers to not drop a product without a sunset period.
I lead a SW company and we work hard to keep our SW updated - regardless if it is browser or mobile based. Reputational damange by being removed from the App Store should hopefully wake some of these developers up.
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“1. A number of app developers either don't exist anymore, or are too lazy to update after getting our hard-earned”
Your hard earned paid for an app that works on the IOS versions it was released for, you did not pay for a support contract with upgrades for future releases of IOS. Outside of fixing bugs in the app when running on IOS versions the app was released for, the developer’s work is done.
“2. There's a dearth of apps that just are unstable after recent updates to iOS and their developers seem to not care”
They probably do care that after all their hard work in developing their app, Apple made it unstable with an update to IOS.
“3. This will hopefully force developers to not drop a product without a sunset period.”
If developers support the App on the versions it was released for, then their sunset period is the life of those IOS versions.
Downvoted as your comment is, I agree. I've had a few times that I was looking for specific functionality and it then emerged the app I installed was an antique in IT terms and no longer worked well with the new version of iOS.
To be fair to Apple it is not hard to get such a purchase refunded, but cleaning up this mess will at least get rid of some of that rot.
That doesn't mean it applies to all apps, though. Some just work well and need no further change. I really don't see what, for instance, you can add to the Step Two 2FA software - it happens to be perfect exactly because of its simplicity.
3. This will hopefully force developers to not drop a product without a sunset period.
No. It will cause developers to drop iOS products like a hot potato the moment Apple demand they do something.
You say you run a software company. What's the RoI on spending a few developer-weeks simply to bump a version number?
You won't. You'll simply drop it when Apple come knocking.
"1. A number of app developers either don't exist anymore"
Reading this article, I can't help but scratch my head and wonder why...
"or are too lazy to update after getting our hard-earned"
Your cash repays the investment that the developer put into creating the app. Whether or not you get updates for free is up to the developer. It's usual these days, but it's a generosity rather than a contractual obligation.
"apps that just are unstable after recent updates to iOS and their developers seem to not care"
Rule number one of operating system design. Don't fuck up existing applications.
There's obviously a grey area if said applications are doing things that are technically wrong or using undocumented features; but if the app is using the correct API in the correct manner and an OS update breaks it, the fault lies entirely with the OS.
"3. This will hopefully force developers to not drop a product without a sunset period."
Brilliant. So you can pay for the product, then pay extra for the support contract.
Or, as is being done more and more because "free updates" are expensive to the company, make it SaaS and release it as a monthly subscription.
Either way, the end user loses.
"I lead a SW company and we work hard to keep our SW updated"
For free? Pay once forever updated? You know, the more users you have eventually you'll reach a point where the cost of maintenance is more than you're getting in sales.
Or do you recoup costs by piling in all manner of scummy adverts?
Rule number one of operating system design. Don't fuck up existing applications.
Rule number 1 (and 0, and 2, 3, 4, ...) for both Apple and Microsoft - keep breaking stuff, it forces users to upgrade. A number of OS X upgrades have broken my workflows - typically by quietly deleting a service that something relies on. Yeah, it might be in the release notes, if you can find them and stay awake to read page after page after page of dense technical stuff and spot the stuff they've deleted that you rely on.
And some of my workflows Apple has broken, I have not found newer "stuff" to replace.
"There's a dearth of apps that just are unstable after recent updates to iOS"
That they were stable before OS updates points the finger firmly at Apple.
"... are too lazy to update after getting our hard-earned"
As you lead a SW company you ought to appreciate it takes a huge investment to develop software. For us indie devs, the payback period for an app is often years. And infrequent updates can be part of the business model: once, say, a game is finished and the bugs have been ironed out it should remain stable for years without updates.
Even an app that does get updates can go a year between releases because you are working on other stuff. I'd love to work on it but that's the hard economics.
But I can see automated jobs to increment the revision of the codebase by 1 and push new binaries every 3 months to comply to the letter of the rules. The end result will be flash chips inside phones failing faster and Apple selling more devices due to continual updates. Oh and a yearly fee from all developers to remain being apple developers.
If automated builds build against the latest SDKs and use the latest xcode, that's basically the end game for Apple anyway - getting apps to use the latest (bug-fixed) libraries.
If your developer membership expires, all your apps are automatically removed from the store anyway, so you always have to pay that - even if you're just publishing free apps.
I'm in two minds about this. As a user, there are times when I've needed or wanted a particular facility from an App, and the only app I've found that offers it hasn't been updated in a couple of years. I've downloaded it, only to find that the app no longer works (possibly due to a change in the OS, or requiring access to a server that is no longer available). That's annoying. I'd like to see those apps removed.
But if the app still worked, and merely hadn't been updated because it did everything the author intended, and well, it would be irritating if it went.
I *think* what Apple is trying to do is get rid of the former apps, those that no longer work, but they don't want to (or can't) test all of them, so they are relying on the app developers to test and, if necessary, fix and update them.
Of course, I could be wrong.
All of the former type should be relatively simple for Apple to detect, and is in fact something they claim to do. Though it'd be a lot easier if they documented intended API behaviour.
Rebuilding against newer libraries is very likely to break things under normal circumstances. Add Apple, and it's certain.
If you're lucky, updating xcode breaks the build. More often, it breaks something else.
"they don't want to (or can't) test all of them"
This is the reason, not for the *removed* apps but for the inventory of *remaining* apps. They are removing 1278 apps per day, there is no chance they are doing more than examining the metadata on those. What those removals mean is when they change their App Store developer TOS (as they do) and need to re-review 100% of the inventory, there are fewer apps to look at.
I don't own any Apple products and no interest but it's their shop front, their shop space and if they want to make up rules about expired good, that's their business to do so. On the face of it, it seems reasonable to clear out the crap but I'm sure as usual there are "3 sides to every story, yours mine and the truth".
But you are missing the critical bit - your argument would be valid only if using Apple's shop was optional.
OK, technically using an iDevice is optional - but in practice you have a choice of iDevice and all the issues that go with that; or using Android and all the issues that go with giving up your soul to the devil. For developers there is no choice - if you want your wares to be available on iDevices, then you use the Apple store (for now, but it'll be a while before various legal challenges work their way through the system).
Increment version number, repeat. Done. Assuming your app isn't broken by dependency borkage, which it probably will be.
What happens if you already own an old version of an app that is discontinued by the developer? Does your right to install it in future get pulled along with the store cutoff? Steam has plenty of examples of discontinued titles (usually due to music licensing issues) that owners can still install.
Imagine you have a simple and 100% finished app that does what is needed perfectly, is used by hundreds of thousands of people and doesn't need any changes.. then Apple removes your app because it "hasn't had updates". This is a sign of the stupidity in the world of software where everyone assumes something is outdated/useless if it's not constantly being changed (often in the form of bloat).. or when M$ push a new version of a product with no real new features just so they can extort more money out of customers for the sake of keeping current (before they end support for the previous version).